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Photographing someone’s Big Day is a beautiful—and stressful—job, especially if you’re not a seasoned pro. This week, PopPhoto is serving up our best advice for capturing that special kind of joy.

The job of a wedding photographer goes well beyond taking pictures. Shooters play the role of cheerleader, problem solver, guest wrangler, and much more. That’s why it’s a good idea to be prepared for almost anything. What follows is a list of useful items that could make you a hero on someone’s big day—from handy solutions to wardrobe malfunctions, to first aid and weather protection. After all: Who doesn’t like being a hero?

Pocket knife 

A simple Swiss Army Knife will do. Whether it’s removing tags from garments or trimming down stray threads, a pocket knife can be an invaluable item to carry on any photoshoot. It’s also useful for last-minute grooming needs. And if you can find one with a built-in toothpick, all the better: That way, when you inevitably notice broccoli stuck in the mother of the bride’s teeth, you’ll have an elegant solution for its removal (don’t worry, they’re washable). 

Safety pins

Accidents happen, and there’s nothing worse than a wardrobe malfunction on someone’s wedding day—delicate dresses are incredibly easy to tear! Come prepared with a small handful of safety pins, just in case. They take up no space in a bag and cost next to nothing, but in the right situation, they can be a day-saver. 

Band-Aids 

Speaking of accidents, sometimes the combination of revelry and libations can lead to bodily mishaps. While packing a full first aid kit might be overkill (one hopes the venue has one on hand), a small travel pack of Band-Aids can help turn a potentially messy situation—say, when the best man smashes his chin on the dance floor trying to do the worm—into a well-controlled one.  

Tide to go / Shout wipes

Weddings often involve wearing lots of white, and those crisp fabrics show stains pretty darn well, technically speaking. Save the day (and time editing) by coming prepared to handle even the worst spaghetti sauce splatters or bloodstains (see above). The PopPhoto staff is split between Tide To Go pens and Shout Wipes, but either will do. These bad boys can be kind of pricey, but their power to fix an oopsie is well documented and well worth the cash. 

Extra cash

Cash is still king, and it’s a good idea to have some on hand come wedding day. From tipping cab drivers to hitting the vending machine, you’ll be well-prepared with a little bit of old-school scrilla. I’ve even witnessed a wedding photographer pay a bystander $20 to move their car, all in the name of improving the shot.

Phone charging brick

Portable power packs can juice up much more than your smartphone: Some can even charge a camera. This suggestion, though, is less about powering up your own devices and more about being prepared for when, inevitably, someone in the wedding party’s phone dies. Just make sure the brick doesn’t “walk-off” (this has happened to us too many times).  

Step stool or apple box

Ok, this one you may not technically be able to fit in your camera bag. But having some sort of means to get an elevated vantage point can open up lots of new creative potential, especially when shooting portraits one-on-one with the couple.

Rain jacket, camera cover, umbrella

It should go without saying to be prepared for whatever nature may throw. Having a fully waterproof jacket is supremely important if the wedding is outdoors and there’s any chance of precipitation. Likewise, be prepared to keep your camera dry. Rain sleeves are an inexpensive way to cover your gear in downpours. Alternatively, a trash bag will do in a pinch (though this may not be the classiest look). 

An umbrella is also a good idea, not for your own sake but for the bride and groom. While wedding day rain may be a bummer, umbrella pics often have an elegant, timeless look to them. So be sure to take advantage of whatever the weather has in store. 

Gaffer’s tape

This one is actually pretty obvious—I frankly assume most photographers keep a roll of the good stuff in their bag (and maybe even under their pillows), but I’d be remiss not to include it. Nevertheless, it must be said, gaffer’s tape is a photographer’s best friend. Not only is it good for fixing gear-related issues, but it can also come in handy for garment issues as well. Groom rip the seam of his pants? A strip of gaffer’s tape on the inside might hold him over, at least for a bit.

Snacks, water, gum

Any good wedding client will feed their photographers. But just in case dinner is late, or in the unlikely event you’re forgotten about, packing a bunch of snacks is a solid move. We personally like protein and meal bars. Nuts, jerky, and dried fruit are also good calls. And don’t forget to bring water to stay hydrated! (I know I sweat profusely when documenting a wedding.) Gum or lozenges can also help keep your mouth from getting dried out, especially when trying to direct wedding guests come portrait time. 

Are there any items we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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