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When I arrive at a clients premises for a photoshoot more often than not the client will look at my gear and say to me, “do you really need all that for this shoot?”

I do take a lot of equipment on every shoot – two camera bodies plus my x100, multiple Speedlights (flashguns), an assortment of lenses ranging from 24mm through to 200mm, flash triggers, at least two sometimes three stands, two umbrellas, a softbox, various reflectors, spare batteries/flash cards and various clips and clamps.

As with all things electrical, if it can fail, it will fail, at some point, and its better to be prepared for that failure rather than have to cancel a shoot (and have an unhappy client)

Case in point – only yesterday I had the final shoot (of three) for a client that had signed up to my, “My First Year” package. I shoot the child when it’s born, then at six months and finally at its first birthday, this provides the client with a record of their child’s first year.

As with every shoot I do, I prepare the day before, make sure everything works, all the batteries are charged up, and pack everything I need for the shoot.

But yesterday was just one of those days.

I set up, went to fire a test shot and one of my Speedlights did not fire, even though it fired the night before. The client then said to me, “can you smell burning? Sure enough, the smell was coming from my fried Speedlight, slowly cooking inside. I quickly whipped out the batteries and put the unit outside – the client watching on nervously.

After setting up another Speedlight I took another test shot and this time once again, the flash failed to fire. Worried now I checked the unit and it appeared ok and fired when I manually fired the test button – I could not smell burning – so I suspected the remote triggers. Swapped out the batteries and all worked ok.

By this time young child was getting a little agitated and restless, so I said to the mother to give him a feed while I finished my setup. While she was feeding him I needed to change the angle of my umbrella, so I twisted the handle of the Manfrotto 155 bracket and it snapped right off in my hand.

At this point I was beginning to wonder who I had upset “up there” as things were going wrong one thing after the other and I was running out of excuses for the client!

I was down a flashgun, I had no way of modifying the angle of the umbrella now the bracket had broken – what could I do – I had to get this shoot finished (started!).

Then I had an idea – the Dad was just stood around watching so I asked if he would mind holding a reflector for me while I used my Speedlight on camera and bounced the light into the reflector being held by Dad.

The shoot turned out ok in the end, everyone was happy.

Happy one year old - Lit with Speedlight fired into reflector held by Dad

Happy one year old – Lit with Speedlight fired into reflector held by Dad

But THAT’S why I have to lug around a huge bag of equipment and assorted items when I go out on shoots!!

Best – Colin