Non-Traditional Photography Gear

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"Out of the Comics" by D. Travis North

Very often when we think of photography equipment and accessories, the things that come to mind are lenses, flashes, filters, shoulder straps, and so on. But not everything in your kit needs to be explicitly designed for photography. Whether your kits fits into your camera bag or whether it’s a pile in the corner of your living room, there are countless other items that you might want to consider having for your photography. Here’s a list of non-traditional items that I consider part of my photography kit:

  • Flat Bed Sheets – I have two flat bed sheets that I use only for photography: A plain white one and a navy blue one. They work well as a quick and dirty backdrop for products. Albeit – my sheets are from a twin bed, so when it comes to larger items, I have to resort to the living room carpet. If you were buying one flat out, I’d recommend a Queen size or even a King size sheet.
  • Bungie Cords (various sizes) – I read recently on Strobist about the various uses for bungies (they specifically call out ball-bungie loops). You can use them to hang flashes in odd places, strap extra gear to your bag (your sheets, perhaps), stabilize a tripod or even use it to hang things like backdrops and keep them tight.
  • Ruler – I always carry a ruler with me. Well, actually, I carry an engineering scale – same difference. I use mine as a focusing aid when I shoot macro. But it’s also useful when you need to quickly document the relative size of things – the size of a leaf you see.
  • Compressed Air Duster – These are almost vital to the maintenance of any piece of equipment. The squeeze ball blowers, in my opinion, aren’t as effective at getting dust out of tight spaces as a nice can of compressed air. You can even get small collapsible tubes to toss in your travel kit.
  • Boxes (various shapes and sizes) – I have a number of boxes that I use to prop things up for a shot. Don’t worry about appearences, that’s what the sheets are for – drape a sheet over any box, and it will look great.
  • Small Screwdrivers – For emergencies, I keep a set of small precision screwdrivers. These are often available at DIY electronics stores (Radio Shack) or your local hardware store in the form of a kit. You won’t need to carry all of them, but two or three in varying sizes would be good if you need to tighten or fix something in a pinch.
  • Small Notebook – I am partial to Moleskine’s products. They are small, durable notebooks that I carry with me at all times. I primarily use it for notes about a specific photo (the stuff that isn’t in your EXIF data). But I also jot down ideas about possible shots or opportunities. Don’t forget to pack a pencil/pen as well.
  • Props – I have children, so I have countless objects and toys that I can use as props. But before my kids came along, I had plenty of knick-knacks and toys that I kept for shooting props: dried flowers, matchbox cars, wood carvings and so on. If you shoot portraiture, you may wish to consider things like bikes, benches, silk flowers or even costumes.
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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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