Before You Shoot: The "Preflight Check"

The term "preflight", as it name would suggest, originated in aviation, where a checklist of tasks that should be performed by the pilot and crew prior to takeoff. It's been adapted for printing jobs as well to confirm that all files required for the printing process are present. I (and I'm sure other) photographers have now adopted the term for our work as well. 

In the same way chefs have mise en place, I like to lay out all of the gear I'll bring with me, before packing it away, to ensure that it's all accounted for, avoiding any unnecessary stress or having to scramble to put together a solution, or worse — going out and having to buy supplies (that I already own) once on set. I can't count the number of times I'd forgotten to pack memory cards or batteries for a shoot, only to realize it once I'm on location, resulting in a colossal waste of time and money, when I either have to buy some, or go back and grab them, which is not always possible.

To alleviate this, before any production, I like to do a "preflight check" of my equipment and camera settings, to make sure I've got everything I need or might need on a particular shoot or project. Below is an example of my checklist, which I usually print and check off the items that I've accounted for, and place it in one of my bags to use again later when packing up to make sure I'm not missing anything.

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If you think doing a "preflight" might help you out too, I've created a fillable PDF that you can download and use for your own projects. Hit the download link below for your copy!


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