Checklists – Yes – Checklists!

Partial-Faire-GearWhat?  A post about checklists?  Are you bored or something?
No – well, maybe – but mostly no. Checklists can really save your proverbial bacon (there’s a proverb about bacon? – hmmm, nevermind).

So I’ve got multiple checklists that I use when I’m doing photography stuff.  A simple example is my checklist for a day-trip to a renaissance festival (doesn’t matter which one):

* tickets/pass
* camera
* lens (wide)
* lens (tele)
* memory cards in holder
* flash (gelled) – usually with 1/8th or 1/4th cut CTO – color temperature orange
* batteries – camera
* batteries – AA (flash)
* white balance card (WhiBal) – some stages will throw a color cast that I want to correct and then re-warm in post processing
* light meter (optional) – I take it when I know I’m going to hit a challenging stage and need a starting point and also when the light is consistent – not really useful for dappled light
* camera strap – I like the BlackRapid R-strap
* hand wipes – some faires are porta-potty only, and sometimes soap runs out
* glasses wipes – all faires are dusty
* Advil – can come in handy sometimes
* photo cards
* pad and pen
* water bottle
* iPhone
* gear belt  – a padded work belt from Lowes on which hangs my lens pouches, water bottle, leather custom made case that carries stuff, etc… keeping as much weight as I can off my back/neck.  BONUS: The Lowes (or Home Depot) work belts are WAAAYYYYYY less expensive than the gear belts you buy from a photography store, and they’re made to be abused.
* garb (shirt, pants, boots, hat, sash)

Why bother to have a checklist? Isn’t it obvious what to take?  Well for the most part, since I’ve been doing this now for years, yes.  However just a couple of weeks ago I was in a rush to photograph a group at faire and I zipped out of the house, got to faire early, and… noticed I had forgotten my AA batteries for my flash!!  DOH!  Thankfully the souvenir shop had Alkaline AAs, but guess what, they don’t recycle as fast as my AA rechargeables.  They also won’t hold up to as many flashes as the rechargeables will.   It all worked out fine, but just became a reminder that there’s a reason that I’ve got the checklists.

I’ve got a separate checklist for “RenFest – Travel Checklist” when I’ll be staying in a hotel.  Another checklist for photographing 3rd Coast Tribal – because I’d carry somewhat different gear for photographing in the theater vs outside in the daylight – different lens selections, different camera bodies, no flash, etc…   and yet another checklist for “Travel – Foreign” where I need to remember stuff like passport, power converters, and try to go really light on the gear.  I stache all the lists in a notebook called “checklists” in Evernote.  Yea, brilliant naming, I know!

Take-away: Think about whether checklists might save you time and potential grief.

About vstrick

I’m a photographer who loves photographing renaissance festivals and dance. They are great communities and I enjoy capturing some of those moments and being able to share them with the community. My day job is in IT at The University of Texas at Austin, wrangling the virtual infrastructure – working with VMware vSphere, vCenter Operations, SRM, Cisco Nexus 1000v, and consuming as many SAN resources as I can get. :-)
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