You can't shoot another session without this photographers survival kit!

Photographer’s Survival Kit…. It’s Not What You Think..

I’m not talking  survival in that you and your client are stranded somewhere in the Adirondack Mountains needing to make fire with your lens and portrait contract. I’m talking about what you need to help make your session go more smoothly or as a just in caseOther than your phone, extra SD/CF cards, battery, lenses, squeeky toys and lollipops for kids….here are few things you might not have thought of, along with my own secret items!

#1. First Aid Kit! Ideally this would be in your vehicle.  You can either put your own together and keep it in a small tote or purchase one. You never know when a client might need it.(Or you!)

#2. Baby wipes. Even if you don’t work with babies. You need some. These are great to clean off dirty faces, hands or even wipe away some of that coffee you spilled on yourself while in a hurry to get to your location.  Read here for more extraordinary uses for baby wipes: Not Just for Booties. <—— My words, not theirs.

#3. Fresh Chapstick. I say fresh because nobody wants to use your old crusty bottom of your purse Chapstick. Grab a few tubes to keep with you in neutral color (the cherry leaves a pink residue that might not be best for boys). There are also cute little EOS lip balm spheres that are just adorable and at $3 are a perfect little take home gift for girls and ladies alike. These are a life saver especially during dry months when lips are likely to be chapped. (*FRESH is the word here, don’t have multiple clients using the same stuff, that’s grody.)

#4. Scissors, string, tape. You never know when you might need them for a prop or a pesky tree branch.  Got some annoying weeds in your shot? Scissors are faster and easier to use than trying to break a thick branch or stomp them down. As always though, please be respectful of the environment you’re in. (String works great to tie back branches or thick plants without killing them.) Tape will come in handy if your prop decides to slip and slide. I usually have electrical tape on hand, works great.

Time to have the kids leave the room and make sure yours windows are closed….

Now we are getting into my Secret Weapons…

Repeat after me, “I do solemnly swear that I will not reveal these TOP SECRET items to anyone! Not even my own mother!”

Just kidding……

#5. A vintage camera! Yes, you can find one under $10 if you look. These are GREAT for entertaining little ones when your trying to get those cute shots and keep their attention. Furthermore, they look great in the images without being a distraction. Look for vintage finds that are solid. I’m not talking a 1914 Brownie. I found this camera online for $15 shipped and it is sturdy and functioning so the kids can play with the knobs and the cool viewer at the top.


Yes, even cats like them….

#6. Metal Decor Vehicles. Got an active boy (girls too!)? Go check out Ross, TJMaxx or Marshal’s…they have $10-$15 old school cars, trucks and motorcycles that are supposed to be for decor but I use them for sessions and if they get pieces broken off, who cares! It was cheap! Plus these also look great in photos of all sorts.


Metal Decor Trucks come in all sorts of colors and styles.

#6. A sturdy old wooden chair. This can be used to stand on, for a weary mum to sit on or to help pose a tot that’s running all over. I say old or at least old looking. I always find that vintage items look so appealing in images and aren’t as jarring as more modern items. (Personal preference)

#7. Pack of bobby pins, clothes pins. Life savers! They hold on bows, hats, fly away hair or even help hold a wildflower in the hair.  Clothes Pins! These are great for fixing wardrobe malfunctions and tying back a scarf or other accessory. I use them to tie back dresses that are too big for my little girl.

#8. Bug Spray…Personal and household. <——– Check for allergies first before applying to a child or client!!!!! I keep several bottles of Skin-So-Soft bug spray in my truck for not just me but for clients during sessions, especially in the summer months. I am a Mosquito attractor!! They always bite me so more often than not, they are busy feasting on me and forget everyone else. 😀 The household bug spray. (Note: PLEASE consider natural bug repellants, especially if your using them in a session location so that your not altering the natural ecosystem.) This might be a bit controversial for some people but yes, I’ve used defense spray BEFORE a session to clear an area where I would be placing a child. I’d spray a perimeter around the area I was going to use. I try to pick a spot that has no ant hills as well (big deal here in Florida).  I do this to keep any unexpected guests from ruining my session especially during the warmer months.  OFF! makes a great clip that blows around you, grab a few of these and place them around the area where your working, does great for creating a sort of bug shield. 🙂

#9. Bubbles. These are amazing. You can do so much and in fact can use them for another trick, but that will be another post. 😛  I use them to help cheer up kids who are having a rough time or to distract a toddler thats running around. You can also use them for all other sorts of sessions since they usually make people smile! (Think engagement, family etc..)

#10. Light Meter App. Yup! Check your App store for a light meter app. I found a free one I use called…. Light Meter…lol

As I learn and grow I’m sure I will find more great things to drag along to sessions. I don’t always have all of these things with me, but I find that they have helped me out in so many situations. If you have a great Survival Kit idea or something you use please let us know! I’d love to add your items to the Photographer’s Survival Kit!

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Alethia Rains (13 Posts)

Hi Ya'll! My name is Alethia and I'm a curly headed fun-tographer who loves to garden, read and run. I call myself a part time photographer because when I'm not taking photos I'm usually nose deep in my books or pulling three kids apart. I won't lie and say I spent an epic adventure trolling though the amazon with my film camera and it inspired me to become a photographer. I do this because its my creative outlet, also because I can't draw or paint to save my life. I have spent the last 8 years going to college earning three undergraduate degrees and I am finalizing my masters degree in environmental management. I am self taught in the art of photography and hope I can inspire others by sharing what I've learned along the way. Please feel free to check out my shop: