Do You Have a Photography Checklist? You Should. Here is a Quick Start

Modern DSLRs have so many features that it is sometimes difficult to keep track of all the settings. One of my biggest concerns is that a shot will be ruined because some switch was not in the correct setting for what I wanted to create. I don’t want to be like the wedding photographer who accidentally shot an entire wedding with the camera set to the small JPEG setting.

photo session preparation checklist

“wedding photo” captured by PictureSocial member Konstantin Koreshkov

To help ensure that such things are unlikely to happen, I decided to take a lesson from the way pilots operate. Pilots don’t just jump in the pilot’s seat and take off. Instead, they have a list of items that they check. Similarly, photographers can have a list of things to check before starting a photo session. Thus, the subject of this article is creating a photographer’s list of things to check to make sure that everything is done right.

Camera Items to Check

Sensor: Is the sensor free of dust?

Lens: Are the lenses and filters clean?

Battery: Is there enough power in the battery? Are spare batteries easily accessible?

Memory: Is there enough space on the memory card? Are spare memory cards easily accessible?

Image Recording Quality: Is the image quality set properly?

checklist for great photography

“Morning Glow” captured by PictureSocial member Debra Vanderlaan

Image Settings: If not shooting raw, are the image settings set properly?

ISO: Is the proper ISO for the shot selected?

White Balance: Is the white balance set correctly?

Metering Mode: Is the proper metering mode selected?

Shooting Mode: Is the camera in the correct shooting mode (e.g., fully automatic, manual, aperture priority, or shutter priority)?

Drive Mode: Is the drive mode set properly (e.g., single or continuous shooting)?

Auto focus: Is the auto focus turned on?

Scene Items to Check

Image Periphery: Are any objects protruding into the image from the periphery?

Objects in the Image: Are there any unwanted objects (e.g., an old beer can) in the image?

Tripod Items to Check

Camera Level: Is the camera level (this is best done with a bubble level)?

Tripod Levers/Knobs: Have all of the tripod levers/knobs been tightened?

Tripod Weighted: If desired, has the tripod been weighted?

Remote Switch: If desired, has a remote switch been connected to the camera?

Mirror Lockup: If desired, has the mirror lockup been enabled?

tripod setup checklist

“Tidal Pools” captured by PictureSocial member Debra Vanderlaan

That’s pretty much it. At some point, this all becomes automatic. Until then, it is not a bad idea to memorize your list.

About the Author:
Ron Bigelow (www.ronbigelow.com) has created an extensive resource of articles to help develop photography skills.

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One Comment

  1. Excellent idea of having a check list! As a matter of fact, I’m planning on printing this so I can put it in my camera bag. There is one more item on the checklist that I think is important. (Yes, I’ve over looked this a few times.) Make sure you check the exposure compensation setting. Just yesterday I was taking photos of jewelry and discovered when I got home that my exposure compensation was set for plus one. Fortunately, shooting RAW takes care of this mistake.

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