Photographer’s bug-out bag: Essential items you should always take on your shoots


posted Monday, January 30, 2017 at 3:00 PM EDT


Portrait photographer David Parish was a longtime soldier in the United States Army. This background taught him the valuable lesson of how to prepare for the worst. It’s common for military personnel to have what is called a “bug-out bag,” which is basically a bag filled with items you might need at any given time. Parish has a photography bug-out bag of items he might need on a shoot, but interestingly, it contains no photography gear. Don’t let that fool you though, his bag is full of items which are undoubtedly useful on a photo shoot.

A few of the items are standard fare, a pen, permanent marker, snacks, flashlight and a first aid kit. These are just good items to have in many cases. When working with models in particular, a lot of things can go wrong, nails can break, clothing could get dirty or stained, so Parish keeps stain remover, super glue, a lint roller (especially critical when clothing is black), safety pins, nail polish remover.

Other items he keeps handy which will help reduce the amount of time he spends retouching portraits later on are moisturizer, anti-shine gel and chap stick. Dry skin, such as elbows, knees and lips can be time-consuming to fix during image editing, so he makes sure to have lotion and lip balm available for models to use. When photographing males, who do not always wear make-up for a shoot, anti-shine gel can help reduce glare and make for much better-looking portraits. He has also been regularly asked for deodorant on the set of long shoots, so he keeps spray deodorant in his bug-out bag which won’t show up on clothing. It’s important to keep the model comfortable; it pays dividends when looking at the final product.

In total, Parish’s photo bug-out bag contains 37 items he’s found essential over the years. View the full list here.

While there is a bit of overlap, Alex Cooke at Fstoppers has made a list of ten non-photography items every landscape photographer should carry. His list contains such useful items as bug repellant, flashlight and first aid kit. If you’re going way off the grid for your photography, you should also include items in preparation of the worst, such as extra clothing and a fire starter. You never know when you might be stuck, so make sure you’re not completely helpless if something goes awry. You’ll need to keep your phone charged if you’re out in the country for a while, so a battery pack and charging cable are must-haves. To see the rest of the list, read it here.

For tips specifically about packing as a traveling photographer, watch Chris Burkard’s video below.

(Seen via Fstoppers. Index image.)