What to bring to your next photo session - a must have list for photographers

We recently asked our amazing fans on our Facebook page what their must have items are for every shoot.


The responses were incredible.  

Some of the things we were already bringing along to sessions … but oh boy … others we had not even thought of until now.

You will not go wrong by carrying a duffle bag full of these goodies below, which should cover your tail in most situations.  

A great suggestion is to keep this bag in the trunk of your car with the essentials always in there.  That way you don’t even need to worry about packing it the night before.  Take note & enjoy!  

You never know …  someone’s creative idea might just make your life a whole lot easier.

(make sure you snag the photo session checklist to ensure you have everything packed the night before)


Squeaky Toys

It is NOT something you would normally think of when packing for a photo shoot! But thanks to our fans you just might bring one to your next session that includes a little one.



Aka teen or husband.  Enlisting someone from a family member is a great way to get some help on a budget.


Baby wipes

Great for runny noses.  I don’t know about you but I haven’t stopped buying these even though my kid is 10.  I have some in the car, some in the beach bag and some in sandwich bags all over the place. They come in handy for messy faces, makeup mishaps, etc.



This is brilliant, especially on location shoots.  Keeping wardrobes clean and adding an extra layer or color or texture are always bonuses.


Bug Spray

This is a staple, especially here in the Midwest during the summer.  I have seen mosquito’s bigger than birds (maybe an exaggeration, but not by much!)



I hate cash, hate it! But not every location I shoot at takes a credit/debit card.  Some parks and rural locations are strictly cash operations.  Which leads me to another good idea.  If you consistently shoot at a local state or federal park, you might as well invest in the annual sticker.



Uhg, yes get the good kind with SPF not just pretty shimmery stuff (Bet you can tell who is writing this).


Clothes pin

These are convenient little tools to have around.  Great for wardrobe fixes or even background/props holders.



You know the kind you got when you had your school pictures taken. Grab a couple from the dollar store and you won’t feel bad about giving them to the clients (or just tossing it if you have some of the same issues I do  )


Dog Squeaker Toy

GENIUS! Young ones love them.  Great way to get a little one’s attention and keep them entertained.


Emergency Kit

This is a good idea to have in the car no matter what.  You can even get them pre-assembled and in hard cases.  Having a Band-Aid handy so you don’t bleed all over your camera is just good planning!


Epi pen

If you have allergies you know you must have this with you.  Especially if you are allergic to bee stings and you are out on location.


Extra Batteries

Think about all the things you use that run on batteries (unless you are sporting battery packs for everything) you should have some extra AA, or AAA whatever your flash, triggers and etc. take and an extra camera battery).  Always better safe than sorry.


Feminine products

Guys, you too. Listen your client may not want to come out and ask you but if you have “stuff” available it might just save the day. Ladies no explanation needed.


For outdoor cold weather – Hot chocolate

A thermos full of hot anything sounds good this time of year.  I suggest not spiking it while you are out and about … or maybe I do – I don’t know.


Garbage bags

In case it rains. Very good idea for a cheap raincoat. Also helpful if you have a location shoot with props that need to be thrown away after. You can even throw those blankets you had on the ground in one so you know it needs to be washed. Even cooler, use it to get in the way of your camera lens for a very awesome foreground look.



The dollar store is your friend. Load up on generic products that do the job or even some travel samples.  You might want to pick up some gel, lotion and clear nail polish (do people still wear nylons?).


Happy Attitude

This is a good one. And while you don’t necessarily pack it in your bag next to your camera, you need this just as much. Your attitude will set the tone for any client interaction – especially during a session. So put on a happy face, even if you have are faking it.


Device for music

Whether it’s on your cell phone or some other device music can lend to the feeling a session has. Personally I think all engagement sessions should include some Marvin Gay but you can choose whatever you like. (Singing to myself “let’s get it on” – OMG I must quit now!) Maybe the couple has a song (the one they are going to dance to at their wedding) and that song will get some unplanned smiles/tears that make their images even more special.


Jacket with lots of pockets

I plan what I wear to a shoot knowing full well I will need extra hands (pockets).  I have cargo capris/pants and a hoodie for every season (light weight to fleece lined) just to maximize the number of pockets I have on me.


Lens Wipes

These are the equivalent to baby wipes in the Photography business.  They also work great on the cover of your Colorvale Planner 


Lint brush I have pets so these are a must for me personally, but have you ever gotten home and looked at your clients pictures and wondered, How the hell did I miss all of that animal fur on their black pants? Save yourself the editing hassle of trying to make those babies disappear.    


Matte Powder or oil pads for shine Magic little helpers that make life so much easier. I would rather deal with these issues during the shoot then in post-processing.  


Meds Whether you have prescription medication or you just know you will need some pain reliever after a long wedding day, make sure you have them packed safely. Also, don’t be quick to hand out any medication over the counter or holistic to your clients. It may sound rude but being sued later because of some unknown allergy or reaction will be much more costly.    


Pepto and antacids What can I say? Sometime that fast food you grabbed on the way to your session (or in some cases the wedding reception meal) just doesn’t agree with you. Don’t let heartburn ruin a session.    


Pez dispenser for your hot shoe What a cute idea for entertaining little ones and people like me, who have issues looking at the camera for any amount of time. I tried it on my Nikon D7000 and it only fit in backwards. I could however put it in the flash trigger and put that on backwards.    


Ponytail ties If not for you, for your clients.    


Pop-up changing tent What an amazing idea.  Your seniors will love you for it.    


Reflector Yeah you should never leave home without one.    


Safety Pins These come in handy for wardrobe issues and more.  I personally have needed them to hold a bridesmaids dress I was wearing together.  It’s better to be prepared.    


Photo Session Organizer by Colorvale This is an amazing tool geared at keeping your client info and session workflow organized.    


Snacks Now if you know me at all you know that I am not a nice person when I am hungry and I am pretty much always hungry. And let’s not even talk about H’angry Stacie!  I have an apple or granola bar with me where ever I go.    


Static release The spray that saves you from a daily dose of electric shocks.  Yep that stuff is awesome when you have quick wardrobe changes or crazy flyaway hairs.  It helps with the pet hair issue as well.    


Step stool I am still learning my angles and compositions and have found that this is a valuable tool in creating different shots. I am tall but if I want a full body shot of someone laying on the ground I can’t just stand over them. To get all of them in the frame I have to stand on something. I would rather have a trusted ladder than try to find the nearest thing I can fall off… I mean stand on.    


Tissues Fun fact – I am a crier.  Not something I am entirely proud of but I have no choice but to own it, because I cannot control it. So a touching moment will without a doubt get me going.  These are also handy for cold weather nose runs and most definitely at weddings.  


Towels How many times have you looked around and thought I wish I had a towel.  Even if they are the old ones you refuse to keep in your bathroom anymore, won’t hurt to have them around just in case.    


Water Bottles This is a big one and one I usually forget.  Staying hydrated is important especially during long session like wedding days.    


Ziploc Bags These things always come in handy. From keeping the details together (jewelry, etc.) to keeping equipment dry they are always nice to have for the just in case.  


Thank everyone from our Facebook page for your suggestions.  These are great.  


But wait ... before you go, scroll down and comment below what your must have items are for every shoot!

1 comment

  • Krystal

    Bribe Box. (Check with the parents first)
    Box full of dollar store/bin toys for both boys and girls… its almost like rewarding the kids for putting up with the photo session when they so clearly would rather be playing.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Binge read these posts