The Essential Photo Assistant Kit


Assisting a big job in the near future? Feel like you’re missing something? If you don’t have an assistants kit, you are.

When I was in college, I had a professor that handed us a laundry list of seemingly unrelated items we were required to purchase for a studio photography class. Little did I know, that list would change the way I assist and shoot, forever. Not only did certain items on the list intrigue me, “What could this be for?”, I would ask myself, but others just seemed weird. Glycerin? Clothes pins? Museum putty? Who knew all of these items had something in common. It’s like that trip to the grocery store when you buy ice cream, band aids, and a rolling pin. People are confused and look at you all sorts of funny. But who cares what others think? You’ll have the last laugh on set when you show up uber prepared.

Here’s your essential photo assistants kit: (great for the solo product photographer too!)

• a toolbox, maybe on wheels, to house everything you need
• all kinds of tape including electrical, painters, gaff, double-sided & regular clear tape – what I use the most
• pens, pencils (regular and white), highlighters, & different kinds of Sharpies
• gray cards, white cards, and black cards – small and large
• pliers – for those hard jobs
• small and large scissors – you never know when you need mini scissors, plus their super cute.
• set of screwdrivers & a mini set – resetting watches? you need a mini screwdriver like, yesterday.
• lighter – candles on a birthday cake? need to start a fire?
• museum putty – won’t leave residue and holds objects in place fairly tightly, also reposition-able.
• atomizer – need to spritz something?
• glycerin – make faux condensation by mixing with equal parts water and put in your atomizer, it won’t drip the thicker you make it.
• box cutter
• Exacto knife and extra blades
• AA batteries – because almost everything takes AA batteries, and sometimes the rental house forgets to change them out .. a chance for you to save the day.
• pain reliever, band-aids, Neosporin, allergy medicatio, sunscreen, bug-spray, and baby wipes – just bring your whole bathroom, someone will need something.
• mini mirror – to reflect specular light back onto small objects, and for checking yo’ self.
• LED flashlight – you always need a flashlight handy.
• small pins, push pins, and safety pins – in case the stylist forgot something, our you need to pin looks/Polaroids to a board.
• ruler & a level – to even things out.
• chalk – x marks the spot.
• glue stick – because. just because.
• hot glue gun with extra glue refills – somehow this always comes in handy when you really need something to, well… not move.
• paint can key – someone always forgets it, plus it can be used to pry open a plethora of things.
• hammer – there’s not always a set-builder, and although thats not your job title, you can make a client very, very happy, if you come prepared to do anything.
• clamps – of every single size, the most used thing in my kit, besides my gaff.
• clothes pins
• hair ties and bobby pins – for you, for the photographer, for anyone.. I never want to ask hair and makeup for their tools.
• small piece of acetate – for reflections, and other things.
• sync cord – in case you’re in a place where every single radio channel is being used, or none work at all.. it happens.
• iPhone chargers & speakers – because everyone on set will forget their charger.
• bungee cords – hauling gear, strapping gear to a cart, set-building tools.
• cotton swabs – cleaning small, hard-to-reach spaces, and ears.
• lint roller – lint’s enemy.
• small Zip-lock bags – for storage of all sorts of things.
• trash bags – on location these always come in handy, and in-case it starts raining, you have ponchos for everyone!
• sand paper
• trusty tape measure – compact and useful.

The list really could go on & on… but this will get ya started.

If any of you guys out there (assistants or photographers) would like to add something to the list, feel free to put it in the comments below!