My dad knows nothing about photography, but he is a mechanic who loves his tools. I learned a lot working with my dad on automobiles and home remodeling projects. I now pass these lessons on to my assistants, and I hope they pass them on to their assistants.
1) Always use the appropriate tool for the job.
Unless you are “Macgyvering,” never use a kitchen knife in place of a screwdriver, a leather shoe for a hammer or a camera body for a doorstop. I have witnessed all of these things on photo shoots, and it has never turned out well.
2) Always buy the best tools you can afford.
A cheap tripod will fail when you need it the most. Same for light stands, hard drives, flash heads, etc.
3) Store and pack your tools (cameras, lights grip gear, et al. ) with these in mind:
- Ease of use – have the primary components together or at least accessible.
- Weight – especially when traveling by air but also to reduce strain on your team members and yourself.
- Safety – keep your gear protected, you want it to last.
- Security – always pack your gear the same way, in the same location. This way you can quickly identify if something is missing, has a technical issue or is still in use.
4) Batteries not included.
The weakest link will bring a production down. A five thousand dollar camera is a brick if the batteries are not charged. Always have backups, and backup to the backups. Ditto for memory cards, hard drives, cables and any other affordable piece of gear.
5) The package matters, too.
Good, well padded equipment cases and bags are worth their weight in gold. I like cases that don’t look expensive and are not so big that I can fill them up without making them too heavy (see #3). For any gear that I put through baggage check, I use waterproof cases as well; my gear got soaked on the tarmac one time, and that was once too many.