Three weeks ago I drove down to the beach for a shot at some sunset photos, the clouds were just right and the sky was full of color. I was pressed for time so I got there right when the sun was hitting the horizon. I hopped out of the car, threw the camera on the tripod, set the release for Quick Remote and start clicking away glancing at the screen occasionally to make sure I was getting the compositions I wanted. I was pumped, it was a beautiful sunset. I rushed home and popped the memory card into my computer only to find that every shot was out of focus. You see, I forgot to reset my lens back to auto focus after a shoot a few days earlier. I was bummed, I hate wasting my precious time on stupid mistakes.
Now, if that was the first time that I'd done something like this I probably would have brushed it off. But I've made similar mistakes too many times!
And then there's the "unprepared mistakes" like when I was photographing the animals at Lowery Park Zoo in Tampa and ran out of space on my memory card. And I had forgotten to put a second memory card in my camera bag! I hadn't even gotten to the elephants yet. Again, I was bummed.
So here's a basic checklist I do now before each shoot. Bear in mind that of course your setting are going to change with each different photo situation, but these settings are good 'safe' place to start :
• Auto Focus ON
• Vibration Reduction ON
• Check ISO Speed
• Check White Balance
• Battery fully charged
• Extra memory card
• Lens clean
• Lens cleaner and tissues in your camera bag (This one got me once when I smudged my lens horribly with a sweaty hand and I had run out of lens tissues in my camera bag. I was bummed.)
• Tripod (Always bring your tripod. ALWAYS! I've missed a number of opportunities because of laziness by not wanting to drag my tripod along. There are going to be unforeseen situations where you simply are not going to get the shot without your tripod.)
• Check the weather if you're doing an outside shoot. Bring your camera's Rain Sleeve if you're going to need it.
• Mileage notebook (If you're trying to make extra money doing stock photography you should be keeping track of every mile you drive during your photo work so you can capture the tax benefits. Here in the U.S. you get 52 cents taken off of your taxable income for every mile you drive. This is a big deal! Track your miles, get an accountant, it pays off big time.)
I've been sticking to running through this Pre-Shoot Checklist for the past couple of weeks and I must say it feels great to be confident that you're leaving the house ready for any photo situation.
Happy shooting to everyone.