The Best Gifts for Automotive Photographers Who Already Have the Camera
Cameras and lenses are a discussion for another time. We’re focusing on accessories and clothes today.
If you like cars and you like taking pictures, then there's a good chance you've dabbled in mixing both. Cars are fantastically fun to shoot: They are interesting to look at, they come in all kinds of fun shapes and sizes, they move through the space they occupy in an excellent way, and—best of all—they don't talk back when your shoot runs too long. Say you've already got your camera. What else do you need?
Cameras and lenses are a whole separate discussion, so for our purposes today, we'll focus on the accouterments of automotive shooting. This is a list of stuff that I've found most helpful to me and my shooting over the years. It ranges from items that keep your gear and your photos safe and dry to items that keep you safe and dry. I hope you find it helpful! And if you're looking for even more camera and gear recommendations, check out our friends over at Popular Photography. They'll keep you busy for days.
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A Camera Bag to Hold All Your Stuff
Duh! You have your hardware. Now it's time to get a bag for all of it.
Camera bags are wonderful things if only because of all the compartments they can come with. Oftentimes, they include soft sectionals that you can swap around to form "walls" around your various lenses and bodies. Bigger bags tend to have an extra pouch for your laptop as well. The bags are lightly cushioned so you don't have to worry about things banging into your gear and they're generally either waterproof or extremely water-resistant. The only downside is sometimes the bags can get a bit bulky depending on how much you want to fit in them.
I personally use a similar version—albeit older, it's been a few years since I've shopped for one—of the TARION backpack case pictured above. They can range from affordable to very expensive, depending on what you need. It comes down to you and your use case!
External Hard Drive
You could store all your RAW files on your computer's hard drive. But computers can break so it's safer to store everything on a secondary, backup drive as well. The Seagate one-terabyte drives have been my go-to for years. They're compact and they've become much more affordable in recent years.
Because we live on Earth, it rains sometimes. And cameras are only so water-resistant. Do yourself a favor and have a rain shield ready. Don't be like me—I came unprepared and had to scrounge around for literally anything I could find to keep my stuff dry.
Look at this scrub:
Long-Sleeved, Moisture-Wicking Shirts
What I'm about to say applies to the next four items: Only! Buy! Synthetic! Fabrics! They dry faster than cotton and they breathe much better.
First thing on the outfit list is a long-sleeved shirt. Get a moisture-wicking one if you can and in a light color to reflect the sun's heat on a hot day. Avoid the mistake I made when I wore a t-shirt to shoot a race and went home with lobster-red arms from sunburn. To say nothing of the resulting farmer's tan....!
Honestly, your best bet is to look into workout gear for this. The stuff is designed to move with you and be lightweight and breathable. And it'll keep you dry if you get rained on or become too sweaty.
Long Pants With Lots of Pockets
Yes, I know. If you knew me, you'd know how much it pains me to recommend that you—or anyone, for that matter—buy a pair of cargo pants in the year of our Lord 2021. But here we are.
The truth is that you cannot beat the versatility of a good pair of cargo pants. Just look at how many pockets there are! Pockets for your wallet, lens caps, extra batteries, extra memory cards, phone, snacks, water bottles, and packs of Kleenex for when you need to sneak off and have a private cry.
I will stress the long-pants aspect of this, though, because not only are cargo shorts where I draw the line but also because certain tracks or events have strict long-pants-only policies. Take it from this noob again, who was forced to leave a Formula Drift event one year, drive 20 minutes down the road to find a mall, and buy and put on a cheap pair of jeans because she showed up wearing shorts that morning.
Plus, long pants protect you from the sun and other creepy crawlies that might bite or sting.
Comfortable Walking Shoes
This one is probably pretty obvious. You can wear those Louboutin stilettos if you want to help put your podiatrist's kids through college. When you're out shooting, you're likely doing a lot of walking—either around the car or around an event or meet. There won't be a lot of sitting and, in fact, there might be some light climbing as you try out different angles for the perfect shot.
Therefore, comfortable walking shoes are a must. Sneakers are always a good choice but I personally love shooting in hiking boots, like these Merrell Thermo Chill Mid Waterproof Boots. Mine are waterproof and I don't mind getting them dirty, so I'm happy to walk through snow, mud, and muck in them. I also stuck some nice insoles in them so they're extra comfy.
No one likes swamp-foot, so getting synthetic and moisture-wicking socks is a great idea. They can be any height, but I prefer taller socks just so you have some extra protection against ticks if you happen to walk through any tall grass.
Bonus points if the socks come in fun colors.
Keep the sun off your face—and the back of your neck. During my first event, I thought I'd be cute and just wear a regular baseball cap. The back of my neck was red and sunburned for the next three days. If you can find a wide-brimmed hat with a chin strap, even better. It means you don't have to carry it around in your hands and won't blow away if it gets windy.
It also doesn't hurt to put on some sunscreen, especially on the backs of your hands if you're properly covering up like I've told you to. Get your face, your neck, and don't forget your ears. Look for a dry and non-greasy formula. No, I'm not a mother. Why do you ask?
Finally, the pièce de résistance: a bandana (or some kind of neck/face covering).
Tie this around your neck to 1. Look generally rakish and 2. Keep the sun off your collarbone because sometimes the brim of your hat doesn't always cover that. And it doubles as nose and mouth protection when you're shooting somewhere with a lot of dust or tire particles flying around in the air.
If you get all the pieces of this gift guide together, you could very well end up looking like this:
Sexy, right? Totally. But here's what we're not: We're not damp, sunburned, mosquito-bitten, or breathing in vaporized tires. Well, maybe a little damp. But we're not any of those other things!
I've reached the end of this gift guide, but the last things I'll recommend are a good set of earplugs (if you're out to capture a motorsports event, it can get loud), memory card holders, lens filter pouches, and lens cloths.
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