Photographer you get the call–Are you ready to go?


Your Go-To Bag

For most of my career, I have been getting assignments just a day or two before the shoot. As a result, I have had a fair number of requests that had me grabbing my bag and running out the door.

Now when you get that call, are you ready? I got a call to fly to NYC and to pull this off quickly. Think about all you need for a shoot that requires travel.

  • Purchase Airfare
  • Book Hotel
  • Book Rental Car
  • Book Photo Assistant
  • Pack clothing bag
  • Pack photo gear

You are also sending emails/texts to your contacts planning your trip. You need to know your contact and their Phone #s, email for example, and let them know when you will arrive after you have already checked with them about when is best for you to be there.

Streamlining your process is as key as having your workflow down for post-production.

Every pro has a go-to bag, the first thing you grab for every job. Here is what is in my #1 bag.

Bag #1 Gear

  • (2) Nikon D4 Cameras – 2 extra batteries and charger
  • Nikon D750 with Grip – 2 extra batteries and charger
  • 14-24mm ƒ/2.8 Nikkor
  • 85mm ƒ/1.8 Nikkor
  • 28-300mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 Nikkor
  • Sigma 70-200mm ƒ/2.8
  • Nikon SB-900
  • Nikon SB-800
  • (2) PocketWizard TT5 
  • PocketWizard mini TT1
  • PocketWizard AC3
  • Battery Charger for AA batteries
  • ExpoDisc
  • Microfiber lens cloth
  • Nikon MC-30A Remote Trigger Release
  • Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control
  • Shure FP15/83 Lavalier Wireless System
  • RØDE VideoMic Pro
  • (2) Zacuto Z-Finder, Gorilla Plate V2, and Z-Finder 3.” Mounting Frame for Tall DSLR Bodies
  • ThinkTank Memory Card Holder
  • ThinkTank Airport Security™ V 2.0 Rolling Camera Bag
Often I need a run and gun lighting kit, two tripods, and light stands for video. Here is what is in the second bag I grab.

Bag #2 Gear

  • (2) Manfrotto 5001B Nano Black Light Stand – 6.” (1.9m)
  • (2) Interfit Metal Umbrella Bracket with Adjustable Flash Shoe
  • (2) Cowboystudio 33-inch Photography Studio Translucent Shoot Through White Umbrella
  • (2) Neewer TT850
  • (2) Neewer 433MHz Wireless 16 Channel Flash Remote Trigger
  • (2) ThinkTank Strobe Stuff
  • (2) MagMod flash modifier system
  • Gitzo GT0531 Mountaineer 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs – Supports 11 lbs (5kg) & Manfrotto ball head.
  • ProMaster XC525 Tripod
I just put this picture of the ThinkTank Glass Taxi to the point that I have a few specialized bags that I grab, like this bag for sports. It holds my Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x & Sigma TC-1401 1.4X.

What is your go-to bag?

It is easier to grab a bag than to pack a bag. Take your time to create the primary bag that will let you photograph most of the situations you do regularly. What is in that bag will be different for each person. You most likely have looked at my list and rolled your eyes. You are probably also wondering why I don’t have something in my bag that you consider key to doing great photography.
I think you need a basic lighting kit. I have two basic kits. One is a studio strobe kit, and the other is a hot shoe kit.
It is better to have a kit ready to go and not worry that you left something at home or the office when you need it on a photo shoot than to rush to pack a bag at the last second.
The cost of an extra bag ready to go is cheaper than the blow to your brand when you cannot deliver for the client.