When you go out to get a photograph, there are two ways you can set out. Prepared and unprepared. When I was in Basic Combat Training (Basic for short) I heard all about the “7Ps.” At the time, I thought it was just my instructors being, well – you know….difficult :)

But it turned out, they were trying to (and did) save my life.

As a photographer, my circumstances aren’t quite so dire. If I fail, it just means I missed a good photo. But I hate to fail. So, I prepare.

How about you? Do you prepare or just rely on luck.

Here are a few tips for Prior Proper Preparation that Prevents Piss Poor Performance…

a. Check and double check your gear. Are your batteries charged? Are your memory cards formatted? Do you even have your memory cards with you? Do you have a memory card in the camera – ready to shoot? How about your sensor? Is it clean? Also make sure to be familiar with your camera. Bring the manual.

b. Make a packing list. One of the worst things you can do on a photo field trip is get to your pristine, beautiful location, only to find out you forgot ______ (fill in the blank.) I like to keep a list for each type of trip I am likely to take. For instance, if I am going out into nature to photograph birds, I check my bird list. If I am going into the studio to photograph a model, I check my model list. In any event, I check the list just like a pilot does. I check it – and then my assistant checks it – to make sure we leave nothing behind.

c. Know your subject. If you’re about to photograph people, places or things that you know nothing about, you might find yourself unlikely to succeed. Study your subject. If it’s a person, try to meet them first and learn something about them. If it’s a place, try to research the local hot spots. Look at maps, and check Flickr for shots of the area taken by other photographers.

d. Meet the elements. Check the weather forecast for the area you’ll visit. Be sure to have layers of clothing so you can adjust to warming and cooling temps. Make sure to have a first aide kit with you. When traveling in backcountry areas, bring along a survival guide and remote communications gear in case you are lost.

There are lots of other things you can do to prepare for any photo shoot. These are just a few idea starters. Feel free to share others in the comments section.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store