Of course the first thing I would never want to be without on a shoot is a Gripvan but I think that’s the Desert Island Discs equivalent of having your entire record collection and reading library as your luxury item.
So, assuming all the really important stuff, like cameras and lighting, is taken care of... when forced into working with minimal kit due to travel or budget restrictions what essentials get pride of place in my Grip case?
1) Smart Phone
I tried not to put this first but I hate to say it the phone is the first thing I check I have with me. It is my call sheet, map, weather forecast, walkie talkie, viewfinder, digital polaroid, sunpath chart, angle finder, spirit level etc. So important, that now I have to carry the USB battery everywhere too!
2) Light Meter
I’m surprised how many shoots I’m on where no one uses a light meter! I’m never without my Minolta Auto Meter IV F. I like it because the controls are well laid out and easy to operate, it is simple without a lot of unnecessary functions plus it is small and lightweight.
For years I eschewed the multitool, mostly because it pained me so much watching people use the pliers to undo nuts and bolts. I bought a first generation Leatherman Wave and it rarely leaves my belt. When it does I’m lost without it.
Still always in my pocket.
Like all of us I love the convenience that apps like Helios and Sunseeker offer for calculating where the sunpath is. I never completely trust the smartphone though and always carry a traditional compass so I can at least be sure of the azimuth bearing.
6) Croc Clips
Who doesn’t love a croc clip ? I can’t remember all the things I’ve used them for but one favourite was rebuilding a broken rail clamp on a sinar F standard using a refashioned croc clip. I always travel with some as many countries just don’t use them. They’re also perfect for taking the lids off beer bottles.
7) Gaffer Tape
So obvious, so essential. Marking, repairs, waterproofing, cable management, fluff removal and on and on and on!
8) Sash Cord
My Dad's advice was “Always carry a knife, some string and some 2p pieces for the phonebox” I’ve already got the knife covered and I still carry string or sash cord on all my jobs. I use it for plumb lines, straight lines, guying lamps or frames, securing tripods etc and it makes a useful alternative to super clamps and Jhooks. Sadly if I’m out of batteries I don’t think 2p will buy me a phonecall anymore.
9) Tape Measure
I favour a Stanley self retracting 10M tape with Metric and Imperial scales or a Leica Disto for longer distances. So many jobs now involve multi-part comps or at least a few background plates. I’m always prepared to measure camera heights and distances or to properly tech recce a location.
10) Plug Strip and Local Adaptor
Everything needs charging in the digital age. I carry at least two adaptors compatible with the AC outlets at my destination. My 4 gang power strip is the baby brother to the 6 gang version we carry on all the Gripvans and features a global socket that will accept almost any AC plug except the South African 15A style round pin ones. This is invaluable when you need to power a mixture of personal and rented kit from different countries.
Doesn’t matter if it is the roof of a multistorey in Walthamstow or the middle of the Kalahari you need to be wearing the right kit and that includes the sunscreen.
In order to be able to keep doing my job I can never be without the right kit, be it a sun hat and sports factor 50 in the desert or state of the art Norwegian underwear in the snow.