Gaffers Tape: The Photo and Video Pro's Unsung Hero

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Gaffers Tape—like duct tape—can resolve many of the world's problems. Photographers constantly use gaffers tape as a quick fix to get around many of the obstacles that they face every day, due to the fact that it is tough, heat resistant, and it doesn't leave nasty residue. I spoke to many of my photographer friends here at B&H about how they've used gaffers tape. Here are some of the ways that they've used the sticky lifesaver. 


- Taping down wires in a studio—which, among other things, can prevent the need  to replace expensive gear or to pay someone's lawsuit for tripping.

- Covering up camera brand names for extra stealth

- Reinforcing superclamps

- Sealing a Holga or other film camera to prevent light leaks. This can be done around the lens or around the back of the camera to seal it shut.

- Propping up a product for studio product photography. We often do this in our videos.

- Holding neutral-density filters in place on a lens that doesn't have a matching thread

- Holding a microphone in place when filming an interview with an HDSLR. If the person is wearing black, it can help to camoflauge the microphone even better.

- Impromptu sunshades for an LCD screen. Gaffers tape can help to make the LCD screen much more visible in harsh sunlight.

- Holding cloth backgrounds in place for a portrait session

- Holding cue cards in place for an interview

- Place markers: These are best done with the brighter-colored versions of the tape. If you color code them with tape, which you also place on lights, your assistants will easily be able to know where to place lightstands.

- Marking a CF card on a shoot to indicate that specific images are on it

- Using gaffers tape to label things, and then writing on the tape

- Putting gaffers tape on the bottom of brand new shoes that you're photographing, because you don't want to scuff them

- When shooting long exposures, a photographer's cable release once broke. Keeping some gaffers tape wrapped around a pen that he had, he found a small pebble and gaffers taped the shutter release down using the pebble and delay shooting mode on his camera. It did the job perfectly.

- At trade shows, many of our team members have used gaffers tape to hold signs in place.

- You can turn a window into a giant source of soft light by gaffers taping a white sheet in front of it.

- To get clothes to fit a model better, you can often gaffers tape the clothing into place better.

- If you happen to need rope on a shoot, you can twist lots of gaffers tape together to form rope.

- One photographer split his pants open while bending down at a wedding. He gaffers taped them back together.

- To mark your gear. I did this when I was a paparazzo and photojournalist.

- To protect your lenses from bumps. You don't want to be replacing your professional-grade gear often.

- To prevent your settings dial from moving. I've shot events where my camera took some bumps, and as a result the settings dial switched from M mode to P mode—throwing off all of my settings.

Canon S90

Photo by Steve Lyon

- Putting gaffers tape on a point-and-shoot to add a textured surface for better grip

- Making barn doors for lighting

- Making an impromptu gobo of some sort to modify the light

- Reinforcing equipment to the joint of a loose lightstand

- Large format film backs can be put back together with gaffers tape.

- Lightproofing a room by putting gaffers tape around the door

- One photographer I know covered up a part of the ExpoImaging Ray Flash that I own, for a more even light output.

- Dried out camera bellows in need of repair sometimes crack. Gaffers tape is often used to fix light-leaking issues.

In what ways have you used gaffers tape? Please let us know in the comments below.

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  wrap around thinner shotgun mics to fit holders properly

put fluorescent strips along door sides (hidden when closed), great when parked on a street or working at dusk

make little "footballs" (triangles) sticky side out to hold lav mics under clothing

color code mutiple rentals on-set

lint remover

temporary cable wrap

quiets noisy shoes when you walk

excellent job of keeping interns quiet