How many of you have ever been out shooting some awesome landscapes or some other event and after you're done shooting you realized that you were shooting small jpegs instead of RAW files? Or maybe you got up at 4:00am to get that perfect sunrise only to find out that once you set up your tripod and turned on the camera your battery was dead.

In an effort to be more methodical in my photography preparation I created a pre-shoot checklist. I have been going through a pre shoot checklist in my mind for a while now and most of the time everything turns out great, but I wanted to make sure that I am ALWAYS prepared with what I need. So I created this pre-shoot checklist:

  • Get the gear together and check that you have everything you might need.
    • Camera
    • Lenses
    • Filters
    • Tripod
    • Remote shutter release
    • Headlamp
    • Spare batteries
    • Lighting equipment
  • Check the status of the gear
    • Are the lenses clean?
    • How about your filters? (These two are crucial if you are shooting into the sun)
    • Turn on the camera and check the status of everything
  • By simply looking at the top of the camera or the back screen you can tell a lot about the status of your camera.
    • Is the battery charged?
    • Are you shooting in RAW?
    • What camera mode are you in?
    • What autofocus and metering mode is the camera on?
    • The other thing I always do when checking the status of the camera is reformat the memory card.
  • Pack up the gear into your bag. Every piece of gear should have a specific place in your bag so it will be easy to find when you are scrambling to capture some killer light.
  • Double check the details of your shoot
    • Do you have detailed directions?
    • What time is sunrise/sunset?
    • What time do I need to wake up and leave?

Going through all of this will only take about 10 minutes most of the time but it is well worth it. Nothing is worse than missing the shot because of the wrong camera settings or forgetting a crucial piece of gear.