We are starting off our 2015 photo education series because we get asked all sorts of questions about photography, gear, lighting, etc. I didn’t want to call this “tips and tricks” because that phrase has been so over used and it sounds “cheep and quick”. We want this info to be useful and real. Susan and I are working photographers and these are the practices we use on a daily basis. Also, if we learn something new, we want to share it. Susan can tell you I was reluctant about starting this series because I didn’t want it to be cheesy. We teach classes in person, but for some reason I wasn’t sure it would translate to the blog. So, if I get cheesy, call me out and I will up the ante!
Grip kits: What are they and why do you need one? A grip kit is a collection of tools used on a photo shoots for various reasons. You could almost call it your “what if bag”, because it has items like tape, wire, clamps, tools, for that “what if it’s windy and we need to secure something down” or “what if the curtains don’t close so we need to clamp them shut”. All of these “what if” moments can usually be fixed with what’s in your grip kit. The grip kits I am laying out for you are what we carry, but as you shoot more and more you can add to your kit to make it custom to you. This is by no means a definitive list, but a good starting point. I will say everytime I decide to leave something out of this kit, we need it. 🙂
We call it a grip kit, but we have it divided onto two kits. One is in a toolbox because it has smaller items and it makes it easy to carry and the other is in a canvas boat bag.
The first kit here is in the toolbox and includes:
- Cotton gloves, to keep products fingerprint free
- Eyeglass screwdrivers
- Fishing line, high test to rig things up
- Straight pins, various sizes
- Plexi cubes, various sizes
- Batteries and charger
- Gaffers tape, small roll
- Screwdriver socket set, stuff breaks
- Brush, small tip
- Makeup brush, to dust set
- Toothbrush, to clean with
- Super glue
- Chopsticks, for styling
- Tweezers, for styling
- Frogs, various sizes to stand cards in
- Lens cleaner and cloth
- Razor blades
- Binder clips, to attach gels
- Wax, to hold items in place
- Fun tack, like wax to hold items in place but comes off easier
- Cotton swabs, to clean
- Tripod tools, (came with the tripod) because things come loose in travel
- Extra bulbs, for the strobes or hot lights
- Extra fuses, for the strobes and packs
- Tripod screws and reducers
The second heavier kit here is in the canvas boat bag and includes:
- Sand bags, for tripods or stands, this one is called a sock for the tripod
- Gaffers tape, in multiple widths
- Paper tape, in multiple widths (not masking tape)
- A clamps, in multiple sizes
- Armature wire, bendable wire that can support weight
- Packing tape
- Canned air
- Super clamps, minimum two with J-hooks and studs
- Extension cords
- Multi-plug surge protector
- Articulated arm with spring clamp and adjustable gaffer clamp, minimum two
Just note for both kits that we are only showing a quantity of one of each item, but pack as many multiples as you see fit. Some items are pretty easy to figure out why they are in the kit, but there a few that might not be so apparent. Here is why we couldn’t live without them.
My favorite is the articulated arm with spring clamp and adjustable gaffer clamp. Think of these as an extra set of hands. The adjustable gaffer clamp fits on almost any table edge, thick or thin. The articulated arm can be adjusted in any position and then screwed down tight and using the spring clamp it can hold cards, plexi or flags.
The super clamps with J hooks we use on the tripods back leg with the “sock” sandbag to counter weight the camera when we shoot overhead. We also use the super clamps with the stud in them to attach lights to when a light stand won’t fit.
The chopsticks we use when styling to push fabric around or stuff stuffing underneath something gently.
The frogs, which are actually to hold cut flowers at the bottom of a vase are great for holding small cards on set. Perfect if you want to bounce light in with a white card or cut light with a black card.
As I stated before, the more shoots you go on you will start to realize things you may need for different types of assignments. Such as if you are fashion or wedding photographer you may want to pack a makeup kit or if your an outdoors shooter you may want to bring ropes to help hold down equipment in the wind.
If you start with these few basics, you’re sure to have a better piece of mind and a good shoot. The last thing you want to think about on shoot day is gear, better to be prepared. If you have a place indoors that you shoot in often, you can keep these things in a cart near close to your set.
*We would love to know what you think about this new series and what questions you would like us to tackle for you. Also I have added links from Amazon to help you find some of the kits items, but feel free to buy them from wherever you can find them.