Did you buy yourself a camera and some lights? Good! Have you recently invested in a permanent studio to create awesome work? Awesome! You should know there are many ways to make your photo and film set secure, productive, and organized, even on a Ramen Noodle budget.
I’ve been lucky to produce over 100 music videos and photoshoots. I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen how the right grip gear will solve many of your future headaches. Let’s start by defining what is grip gear.
What Is Grip Gear?
Grip gear consists of tools that help photographers and videographers shape lighting, sound, or props on any given set. You have the choice to take most of these items on location or in your photography studio.
These accessories vary widely in price. Luckily, you can still enjoy the benefits of great grip gear even if you are working with the tightest budget. These items will support you throughout your career. Is your budget flexible? There is also something for the established professional.
The Ramen Noodle Budget: Essential Photography Grip Equipment
These 3 pieces of gear I’m about to share with you are essential for most photographers, even the natural light ones. After buying a camera and a light, these should be next in your shopping cart. The best news? I’m sure you can afford them.
According to the National Safety Council, one of the most frequent sources of workplace injuries are bruises, punctuations, and lacerations, causing 26% of all incidents. It seems most photography gear is built to give you those injuries.
Although the technology has immensely improved to be more inclusive for creatives with disabilities, fingers are a crucial part of our job. Fingers type our proposal emails, click the shutter, and navigate social media. Protect them from falling lights, carrying gear, and building a photography set.
A good and affordable pair of work gloves will act as the first layer of protection. I recommend shopping for a pair of gloves such as the Gig Gloves with touchscreen capability so you can use your electronic devices while working. This small investment will protect you to keep on doing what you love.
Clamps are lifesavers. Whenever you want to hold something in place, clamps will be there to get the job done. Does a gel filter need holding? Clamp it. Do you need to frequently refer to your shot list? Clamp it. A reflector doesn’t stay in place? You know what to do.
You can get a set of 6 aluminum A clamps for less than $12 and they will last a while. If you can afford it, also shop for clip clamps with rubber ends for additional versatility.
Do you know what is the best insurance for your lights? Making them immobile.
If your lights move too much on set, they are at risk of falling and breaking. If they break, you will have to be on your ramen diet for a little while longer. Make sure to grab a couple of sandbags, to keep your investments safe and secure. Sandbags will support your lighting equipment by making sure they stay still when your client’s kid runs around the set.
At a starting price of $5, they are affordable and versatile. For example, when I am too lazy to tape a seamless roll on the floor, I leave two sandbags at each corner. It saves on tape and saves the roll!
If you need more information, look out for my video on my YouTube channel where I review more grip gear under $10 I can’t live without. I wish someone would’ve told me this earlier!
The Burger Budget: Grip Gear For The Casual To Professional Shooter
Congratulations! You can eat protein once in a while! These items are in line with your evolution as a creator. Take these 3 items to the studio to solve challenges you will face when working as a photography pro.
Don’t leave your expensive strobes on a small flimsy stand. Get yourself a solid 10-foot c-stand. In the film world, c-stands are sometimes called century stands because they simply don’t break. They will last longer than your career.
You can throw on some heavy-duty strobes without fear of your light falling over. When you’re budget ready, you can improve them by adding a grip head and a boom arm. You’ve just unlocked 360° lighting!
These versatile wood boxes will positively impact everything in your photo set, from your equipment to your subjects.
Does your subject need to have a footrest? Throw in an apple box. Is your tripod is a little short? Tuck an apple box under to it. Need to shoot at a low angle but don’t want to kneel down for hours? Sit on an apple box! They come typically in one stackable set, for better organization.
If you ever had the pleasure of mounting a hand-painted canvas, you know this exercise can be truly painful. With a Matthellini clamp, getting your canvas perfectly centered is a breeze.
The Matthellini clamp can hold most studio accessories in place using the leverage of a grip head and a c-stand. This tool will make your lighting control much more efficient. You can safely clamp flags, overhead strobes, props, and much more.
The Caviar Budget: Grip Gear for High-End Photographers
Well, you are on top of the food chain. These items might help you stay on top, apex creator.
I’m not talking about any roller cart, the Rock N Roller Multi-Cart R12 Max Transporter works for all situations, on location, and in the studio. This roller cart works in two ways.
The first: as a way to transport your photography gear safely. Remember that your body is your business. Hauling your gear by hand steals energy from your shoot. Support yourself. Come in fresh and ready to create mind-blowing work.
Director chair is sold separately
The second function of the Multi-Cart is to act as a tethering and accessory station. You can leave your laptop and lenses on this cart to improve your workflow. Simply add the additional shelves to transform your cart into a mobile photography workstation.
In a pinch, it can even act as a dolly - results may vary.
I am a HUGE proponent of v-flats like the V-Flat World V-Flats. On top of acting as fill or negative fill, they can even double as backdrops, set prop, etc... The versatility of V-Flats is endless. Search for the V-Flat World Instagram for tons of inspirations. Your photography studio needs one.
Re-creating a diffused soft natural light is difficult. For your natural-looking lit portraits, the scrim might be the accessory of choice. Although they require a lot of space, scrims can turn a difficult lighting day into a great one.
Bonus Grip Gear For The Organized Photographer
Get some milk crates to organize all these pieces of gear! They are sturdy and won’t break easily. Paint them a funky color for additional aesthetic.
I hope this article was useful for your future shoots. Remember, most grip gear is typically made for heavy usage - these investments will outlast many cameras and lights. Grip gear is really there to save you from an unsafe working set and the many difficult situations you will face during your photography career.
Stay safe, protect your clients plus your gear and keep on shooting!
YvensB is a sports and fitness photographer located in beautiful Montreal, Canada. I spread the good word on lighting on Instagram and YouTube.
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