The Checklist

There was a time when my entire setup used to fit into the trunk of my sedan that I proudly owned then. It comprised of 2 humble studio lights, stands and basic soft boxes but like I said in my earlier blog – it used to float my boat at the time. The trunk of my car was pretty much a dedicated storage space for everything photography. I was out of town on an assignment for two back to back studio shoots crammed up in the same day. I felt so smug about being organised and having planned everything down to the last detail. On reaching the studio my assistant went to get my stuff from the trunk and what he was almost made him faint. The trunk was EMPTY. And that’s one of the stories of how THE CHECKLIST came into being.

I am an extremely visual person which means that its really easy and effortless for me to imagine the shoot in my head before it happens so for example if I am imagining a certain light being put up I will also imagine the cable, the modifier, the converter rings and other things that go along with it. Works like magic for me!

Here’s summing up the things I ensure before a photoshoot.

  • Camera shooting mode. My camera shuffles between the RAW, MRAW and SRAW mode. I don’t want to be shooting a campaign shot in anything besides the RAW (Full raw mode) and that’s something I have to ensure.
  • Batteries (I have 3 batteries) – Cant ever run out of juice. I also carry the chargers with me in the event that all of them get drained on a shoot (has never happened) If you are someone that shoots video then you need as much battery juice as you can carry as continuously burning up the sensor requires a lot of battery power. My batteries have 2 colours on the flip side (black and blue) with a yellow base protector plate with a small battery symbol punched into it. What I do is flip the battery cut out on the blue for fully charged and on black for to be charged
  • Memory cards – The fact that I tether most of my shoots doesn’t really make me fret about the memory but nevertheless I have 2 64 GB cards and 2 32 GB cards which go with me everywhere, tethered or not
  • Lens cleaning wet pads by Leica which are alcohol based pads for my view finder, the preview screen and the lens. I tend to put objects in front of my lens sometimes a bit too close and this requires occasional cleaning of the front element of my lenses during the shoot
  • X-Rite ColorChecker –Your client is going to be extremely happy if you can reproduce exact colours as his product. I tried using the 18% grey card for the longest time but after upgrading to the 5DsR I realised that a lot of bright colours would change on camera. The shift to the Colour Checker was a wise one
  • ISO settings on your camera. I have seen a lot of people shoot in the AUTO ISO mode and I just can’t figure out why. People don’t take ISO as seriously as they should. My first choice is to shoot at ISO 50 unless I want to PUSH or PULL the ISO  (things I learned way back in my career working the film camera)
  • Metering mode – I use the spot metering as it lets me lock focus for the eyes and lastly
  • Monopod / Tripod – I started using the tripod rather late and realised I was compromising so much by not using one. In this market of light, lighter and lightest tripods I prefer mine to be really heavy duty. If the tripod is the base of your camera it sure as hell needs to be firm. I use the Manfrotto 055 and the 058B with the Manfrotto Ball Head 498RC4. Pan – Tilt heads are not my thing at all. I also go a Benro Monopod  A38TD recently during a shoot I did in Dubai for ease of use. The benefits that a good camera support lends to your photography is something you need to find out for yourself. Do let me know what all is a part of your checklist. Id love to know and perhaps imbibe.

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