One needs to check a lot of thing before going out to take photos and since I seen many people doing the same mistakes over and over (and I did some myself :)) here is a short list, of what one should check before going out to take photos. This is more for the beginners, as I hope pros don’t do these mistakes :)
1. Check the battery status
First thing that needs to be checked. And not even the battery in the camera, but also all the backup batteries one takes. As batteries can loose their charge over time, if you haven’t used a backup battery for a while, it can be completely empty. Also, cold environments tend to kill the batteries quicker, so have at least one spare.
2. Check that you have a memory card
First check if you have a memory card in the camera, then if you have at least one spare. Even if a memory card works, that does not mean that it wont fail on you during a photoshoot, and it’s very hard to continue without a new one. Also check if the cards are empty. A card full of photos you haven’t copied to your PC yet, is the same as no card at all.
3. Check that the camera works
One never knows what could happened after the last time you took photos. Always turn the camera on and at least try to focus. Electronics can fail unexpectedly, and finding it out after you spend time and money to get to a location, is just to late.
4. Check the camera settings
This is something that I always forget to do. Especially, if like I, one shoots in the same settings all the time. Especially things that one does not see immediately. A crazy white balance, auto ISO selected, wrong shooting mode, bracketing turned off/on, self-timer and similar. If one had to shoot something different, and then goes back to the regular stuff, it’s very easy to forget about one or more of these being changed.
5. Check the lens setting
There are actually only two settings here. Auto-focus and image stabilization. Again, checking if these are properly set, can really help avoid one or few bad photos. For instance, if one tends to shoot a lot of landscapes with manual focusing and then goes to shoot some people shots, it’s easy to forget to switch the Auto-focus on. And it’s even easier to forget to switch it back off again afterwards. Same with the images stabilization switch. Forgetting to turn it one when shooting handheld and forgetting to turn it off when shooting from a tripod can really easily happen. Also, don’t forget to clean the lens every time :)
6. Check the tripod
Here I don’t mean to check if you have the proper plate on the camera (even if that’s also important :)), but that one should check if the screws on your tripod are properly tighten. One does not have to do this all the time, but it still should be done regularly. You never want to do a long exposure, just seeing the camera slowly moving down due to a loos tripod leg. Not all tripods are the same, and not all need to have the screws tightened. So do this based on what type you have.
7. Check that you have all you wan’t to use
And last but not least, all the other stuff. Make sure you have your remote, filters, leveling cube, and anything else you think you may need.