Pre-Wedding Photographers Checklist

I mentioned on twitter (@hayesphoto) something about my pre-wedding checklist not long ago and another photographer commented on that.   So figuring that someone found it interesting  I’d post since other’s out there might benefit from it, or comment back with their own additions.

So for me the day before the wedding is gear check day.   I do this before noon so if I have to I can run to the local pro camera shops before they close if I’m missing something vital.
Hardware Inventory
Bodies, Lenses, Flash, Data Cards, Batteries
Pull all the gear out of the various bags.   Check to make sure everything is there and nothing has been left in another location.   If not using rechargable batteries make sure there’s enough batteries to change each flash unit at least once if needed.

Inspect and Clean bodies and lenses
Just getting any dust off bodies and cleaning both ends of elements on lenses.

Clean Camera Sensors
Only half of my bodies are self cleaning, but I still double check those.   Shoot a light colored wall or the sky and view in computer at 100% zoom checking for dust spots.   If found on a self cleaning run, run it’s cleaning cycle twice and recheck.   If not on a self cleaning (or self clean didn’t clean it up)  get the special brushes out and clean the sensor.  Re-test.   Re-clean if needed.

Sync all camera bodies with my iPhone (or any other cell phone)
Syncing the time on the camera bodies lets you mix the shots in one folder and view by time, this is very important with multiple shooters.
I use the cell phone since they are synced time from the atomic clocks.

Format all Data Cards
Giving each CF or SD card a format and putting away ensures that when I insert a new card at a wedding it better be empty.  If it’s not empty I know it was shot that day.   I always put used cards in my case backwords to tell them apart, but things happen.  I NEVER want to format a card at a wedding and risk screwing up.

Add business cards to gear bag and CF case –
Nothing is worse than not having enough business cards to give out.

A few additional inventory items that should be included.

Change of clothes.   Fresh socks, pants and shirt.   Nothing worse than walking in wet socks all day or sticky clothes if someone spills something on you, and we won’t even consider split seams on pants.

Water and energy bars.   I’ve become a fan of Vitamin Water.   One or two of those and an power bar can get you through a 12 hour day.   Sure most the time you get offered food, but sometimes you’re just too busy to take a few minutes to eat.

Spare set of car keys – on a different ring – different pocket or wallet.   I used to always carry a spare key to my Bronco in my wallet.  But when I got my little Focus wagon I didn’t do that because it has one of those fat electronic keys.   That almost cost me big time last weekend.

When leaving the hotel where the groom was getting ready I accidentally dropped my keys in the back with the camera bags, and slammed the hatch shut.

Now normally this hatch is stubborn and I have to slam it 3-4 times to get it to latch, but not this time.  First try.

So here I am in downtown Denver, keys laughing at me through the window, with the grooms party about to leave via limo to the wedding venue.   My wife has spare keys, but she’s 45 minutes away.   That sinking feeling of panic sets in fast.

Fortunately I found out my car is pretty easy to break into and within 10 minutes I was on the road.

Unfortunately I found out my car is pretty easy to break into……

While I didn’t loose any glass (nor resort to coat hangers)  – honestly I was only a few minutes away from having to make that call and taking out a door window rather than risk dropping the ball for a client.

So from now on a set of keys in each front pocket.

Until next time,

Mark