What’s in My Bag? Everything in My Photography Emergency Kit

Scissors and safety pins from a photography emergency kit on black background

This week I am getting ready for the 10-hour wedding of my clients, Kate and Stuart. As I’m thinking about last minute logistics and packing for the big day, I wanted to share with you everything that is in my photography emergency kit.  I bring all of this to every shoot, and a few of the items are quite surprising. 

Box of boutonniere pins from a photography emergency kit on black background
Boutonniere pins

I’m a former Girl Scout, and I live by the motto that you can never be too prepared. I have a checklist that I religiously go by for every photo shoot, and this checklist insures that I am ready for any situation. And while it is rare that I use most of the items listed below, I have found that it only takes one instance of need to make these items invaluable.

I see my job as going beyond that of simply taking a photo. I’m also on hand as a professional problem solver who comes to any event with a wealth of experience, having been in business for four years. As a photojournalistic photographer, I often work with clients who, because their weddings are low key, don’t include the aid of a wedding coordinator who normally brings these items. As such, I make sure to have plenty of band-aids and safety pins on hand. With this in mind, here is a list of what I carry with me to every major wedding. [Note that for smaller weddings, things such as the hand held steamer get left at home.]

Photography Emergency Kit – Cameras & Tools

  • Cameras (two Canon 5D Mark III bodies)
  • All lenses (24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4, 400mm extender)
  • Flashes (three Canon 600EX-RT)
  • Batteries for cameras and flashes
  • Battery chargers
  • Memory cards
  • Phone charger
  • Client folder with all contact information, permits, insurance certificate, etc.
  • Step ladder for large group photos and to get different angles during portraits
  • Tape: duct tape, gaffer tape, and electrical tape
  • Rain gear: umbrella, large plastic bag, and shower cap for equipment
  • Trash bag and extra Ziploc baggies
  • Multi-use tool (like a Leatherman; also includes a handy corkscrew opener)
  • Small scissors
  • Black plastic plaque for wedding ring photos
  • Mounting putty to keep rings in place
  • A-clamps and binder clips to keep items out of the way for a photo
  • A large swatch of black fabric for the couple to sit on in order to prevent stains


Bridal Suite Items

  • Wooden hanger for the wedding dress photo
  • Hand-held steamer (brought upon request)
  • Fabric softener sheets to prevent static
  • Spot remover pen
  • Lint brush
  • A crochet needle to handle wedding dress hooks
  • Boutonniere pins
  • Sewing kit
  • Safety pins
  • Clear nail polish
  • Double-stick tape
  • Crazy glue
  • An eraser to be broken off and used as earring backings
  • Emery boards
  • Bobby pins
  • Makeup basics, including concealer, powder, blotting papers (great for men), blush, mascara, eyeliner, and chapstick
  • Cotton swabs for makeup fixes
  • Hand-held mirror
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Medication: Aleve & Excedrin, Pepto Bismol capsules, cough drops
  • Hand sanitizer and liquid soap
  • Paper towels
  • Hand towelettes
  • Tissues and a linen handkerchief
  • Black sharpie pen
  • Black rollerball pen for signing the marriage license (you have to use black ink)
  • Small flashlight
  • Mints
  • Snacks and water
  • If I know an event is going to be outside, then I may also bring sunscreen and bug repellant

The most recent items I have added to my kit are boutonniere pins. You would be surprised how many times these pearl-headed pins get lost, or you simply need an additional pin to make that flower stick where it is supposed to.

The strangest and most useful item of my kit is my crochet needle. The hooks on the back of a dress are infamously difficult to get access to, and the crochet needle makes this process a breeze.

Crochet hook from a photography emergency kit on black background
Crochet hook
Hands using crochet hook from photographer emergency bag to close buttons on wedding dress
My crochet hook in use

The most used item of my kit is my small scissors. All too often a bridal party is breaking out a dress, shoes, or an accessory for the first time, and this is when the tags come off. Also, safety pins are hugely popular and come in handy for just about everything.

Anything else I have forgotten in my photography emergency kit? I would love to hear from you all: as a photographer, wedding coordinator, or client – what do you bring with you to your event?

Do you have a big event coming up where you need a very prepared photographer?  Drop me a line, and let’s talk about your photography needs.

If you would like to see images from wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website — KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com

Professional Canon lenses of photographer Kelly Williams
Professional Canon lenses
The camera kit of photographer Kelly Williams
My camera kit
The mobile photo kit of photographer Kelly Williams
Fully packed and ready to go

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