1. Back up camera- This depends on your level of expertise, but a back up camera is a necessity for anyone getting paid to photograph images. Even if you are not getting paid, having an additional camera just in case is never a bad thing. As a professional, my back up camera is always the same brand as my primary camera. This way, if something goes wrong with it, I can quickly grab the other and keep shooting like nothing happened.
2. Memory cards- Additional memory cards are important to keep on hand. Memory cards have a tendency to flake out at the worst possible moment. Keep spares in your bag to make sure you don't have to make an emergency trip to the store during a photo session.
3. Battery- I always like to have a spare camera battery in my bag. LCD screens can eat away at your battery faster than you think. A full day of shooting may leave you in the dark--digitally, that is.
4. Lenses- If you are using a DSLR or a compact interchangeable lens camera, it is important to have a variety of focal lengths available. Also, it's nice to have a back up lens in case something happens to your primary lens. For me, this is a kit lens that I don't normally use.
5. Flash- A flash that can be attached to the hot shoe of a camera or used off camera are great for adding additional light to your subject. If you haven't tried using them before, it will add a whole new dimension to your photography.
6. Blower or Gel Cleaner for DSLR sensors- These handy little tools can be quite useful when faced with those awful dust spots that creep on to your sensor and lenses.
7. Umbrella/plastic bag- You never know when you will get stuck in the rain with your camera. Not all cameras are weather sealed. Having a small, collapsible umbrella in your bag could mean the difference of getting the shot or sending in your camera for repair. Don't want to take up valuable camera bag space with an umbrella? Shove a plastic grocery bag, shower cap, or gallon Ziploc in your bag instead! All you need is a hole for your lens and you've got an inexpensive way to keep your camera dry.
8. Manual- Keeping your camera's manual in your bag is an easy way to fix a messed up setting quickly and easily. It's really important to learn about your camera by reading the manual, but it's not always easy to remember all the nuances about it. Keep the manual handy. It might just save you one day!
9. Pen/Paper- Have a small pad of paper and a pen in your bag. You never know when you'll need it. If you aren't into the lost art of writing, keep your smartphone close to jot down ideas about locations for future session, posing ideas, or sunrise/sunsets times of a picturesque view.
10. Business Cards- If you are a pro, you never know when you will need to hand one out. If you want to try your hand at becoming a professional photographer it is really important to have a few cards handy in case you are giving the opportunity for portfolio building. If you are not a professional, it is great to keep some nearby to other enthusiasts in your area.
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