Five Items These Photographers Find Invaluable


Think about this for a second: What is the one item in your camera bag that doesn't take up a ton of space, but that you'd be nowhere without? We all have them. They are little essentials that vary greatly—whether filters, painkillers, etc. We asked a couple of photographers what they have, with some interesting results.

Lead Image by DavidWSumner via the B&H Photo Flickr Group.

David Cardinal

“When photographers talk about lighting, they usually mean for the subject. But light to work by can be even more important. That’s why I always have a headlamp close at hand. Specifically, I’m never without my Petzl Zipka2 headlamp. There are a few things which make it uniquely suited for photographers. First, it features an elastic cord, making it a cinch to stash in a pocket or a small space in your camera bag. Second, it features multiple light levels, so it is useful for almost any situation, including checking sensors for dust. Third, the cord can be used to place the lamp on your wrist, making it ideal for times when you need light on your hands for delicate repairs or other fiddling with your gear. Finally, the light easily switches from white to red, allowing for use at night without ruining your vision or attracting bugs. Of course, headlamps are also a must-have in tents or dimly-lit hotel rooms. All in all, it is the best $40 I’ve spent in a long time.”

David Cardinal has two exciting workshops coming soon. In July, he has the Alaska Grizzly Bear & Puffin Safari, where you'll be spending a week with Alaskan Coastal Brown Bears during their favorite time of the year. In April, he has the Texas Hill Country Birds & American West Photo Safari & Workshop. It promises to be filled with lots of Southern hospitality, and endless opportunities for scenic, macro and reptile photography.

Peter Tellone

"As a landscape photographer in Southern California, I'm usually working in some pretty harsh environments. Whether it is the dry desert or a sandy beach, sand and dust are everywhere, and they usually ends up on my camera/lens. You will usually find me lying down on the job, so I am very close to those sources of grit. My little secret weapon in my bag is a small can of compressed air. So before a lens cloth or brush ever touches my lens, or before I open my card slot or take off a lens, I blast my camera with a few shots to get all the big stuff off.

*Please note: Don't use it after the lens is off or the card slot door is open, and never use it to clean your sensor*

Dust c/o White Sands, New Mexico"

Check out Peter's portfolio and some of his dusty places, at


Dan Bailey

"One of the most useful items that always seems to live in my camera bag is the Gorillapod (SLR Zoom model). I use it as a mini tripod to hold the camera steady, but more often, I use it to affix cameras, speedlights and other photo-related accessories to trees, branches, bicycles, ski poles—whatever I need! I recently shot a short video tutorial with my Flip video camera that was 'Gorillapoded' to a skate ski pole stuck in the snow. For a variety of outdoor photography work and fun, I find the Gorillapod to be a very usable item, and it’s small and light enough that I can just strap it to the side of my photo pack and forget it’s even there."

Dan is one of our guest bloggers, and has his own excellent blog as well.

Jack Hollingsworth

"I'm a thirty-year career veteran in commercial photography.

I've recently discovered a renewed sense of passion, mission and vision by shooting mobile photography with my iPhone 4s.

You can read about that journey right here. Without a doubt, my favorite iPhone camera accessory is the mighty iProlens made by Schneider. The two-lens kit comes with both a wide-angle and a fisheye. The wide-angle glass has an 86º field of view (FOV), and is like the 35mm equivalent of shooting with a 19mm. The fisheye has a 160º FOV, and is like the 35mm equivalent of shooting a 12mm. Schneider is also in the process of introducing a 2x telephoto for the iPhone, which will be the 35mm equivalent of shooting with a 60mm lens. I love these two lenses. I never leave home without them.

And who better to trust than someone who has been making quality optics for a long, long time."

Image pulled from Jack's Gramfeed. The rest of his work can be seen on his website.

David H Wells


"As photographers, we always need to clip and tie things together.  What I find works best are women’s hair bands, called "scuncis," which are cloth-covered hair bands that work like rubber bands, but because of their cloth covering they don't grab onto things like rubber bands do. They are my wife's and daughter’s favorite, and have become mine as well. I use them for holding bounce cards on flash units, keeping little pieces of gear together, keeping an external flash cord from getting stretched too far, etc., etc., etc. They are not super strong, so don't use them to hold heavy things together, but they are great for little things."

David Wells has blogged for us many times, and teaches at various workshops. Currently, he's working on a project showcasing foreclosed homes.



scuncis are now on my shopping list . thanks for the tip !

AH! I can't believe nobody picked gaffer tape. :P

Oh well, very interesting little bits of gear.

Hair scuncis?  Brilliant!  Never even crossed my mind.  Here I spent $60 on Honl speed straps.