A Pre-Shoot Checklist

posted on 11th of november, 2012

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.

Comments (10)

Posted by Mike2focus on December 09, 2012
Davidwatmough wrote: I like your list but with so few sales why worry about tax

David, with all due respect to you, it sounds like you don't understand how taxes work here in the U.S. As a freelance photographer, which is what I am classified as, I pay about 40 percent of my earnings to taxes. Every mile I drive reduces the amount I can be taxed on by 52 cents. I do a lot of driving for my stock photography!! AND I do photography for a local jeweler AND architectural photography for a developer that I'm related to. If it wasn't for the tax write off I get for the miles I drive, I'd pay a lot more in taxes. And I mean a lot more!! So naturally I'm going to take advantage of the tax break I get from my mileage. It would be foolish not to!!!!
Posted by Davidwatmough on December 09, 2012
I like your list but with so few sales why worry about tax............ your income wont buy a lens let alone a camera so why talk to the tax people. Its nil income or even negative without considering motoring costs ? David
Posted by Cosmostellar on November 13, 2012
Appreciate these comments..Thank You.
Posted by Mike2focus on November 12, 2012
Thanks for your comments everyone!
Posted by Laurasinelle on November 12, 2012
Thanks for share!
Posted by Celiaak on November 12, 2012
So usefull. I've runned out of batteries a lot, and other times bummed for not transporting my camera around.
Posted by Egomezta on November 12, 2012
Great blog, thanks for sharing, very useful.
Posted by Perstock on November 12, 2012
You are really right!
I will write down in your checklist swedish and make a "luggage tag"!
One more thing. I allways let the flash manual be in the gearbag, it´s so damn complicated to reset the flashes after some settings :-)
Posted by Thanatonautii on November 12, 2012
Great blog! Thanks for sharing your checklist!
Posted by Rosariomanzo on November 12, 2012
Useful, thanks. I also have a kind of checklist, but I always forget to reset the EV compensation!

Comments (10)

This article has been read 1780 times. 4 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Mike2focus.

About me

I am a photographer, art director and designer living in Florida. My passion is to capture great stock images. Thanks for checking out my portfolio!

confidential info

February (1)

Stock Photography that BLOGS!

Interact, make friends, share tips and techniques, have fun. Dreamstime wants your ideas and thoughts whether you are a photographer, designer or regular user. Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite images and photographers, post tutorials or simply exchange opinions with your with fellow dreamstimers.

Don't forget words and pictures go great together so make sure you choose some Dreamstime favorite pics to brighten your article. For inspiration, check out the hottest or the most useful blogs on the left.

Create a blog to tell your story, promote favorite stock images and photographers

Create your blog

My favorite articles


More favorite articles

Related image searches

checklist photo shoot prepare planning

Checklist related stock images