While digital cameras seemingly get more miraculous every year, one thing that won’t change is the likelihood of something going wrong. I can flat out guarantee that, on a long enough timeline, you will have equipment failure as a professional photographer. Engineering and automated manufacturing can jam more and more sophisticated electronics into impossibly small spaces, but doing so only raises the potential for one of those electronic bits to go bad.
There are some things you should always have with you in case disaster strikes.
A Spare Body
For some people the idea of dropping $2,200 to carry around a spare Canon 5D MK II seems crazy, but taking on a contract to shoot a wedding with a single body and no backup is folly. You’re not only risking your reputation, you’re risking someone’s lifetime memories.
You don’t have to carry two identical bodies, but you need a capable spare. Maybe something like a Canon T3i instead. Preferably a spare body that accepts the same standard lenses you use on your main camera.
Consider yourself lucky if you’re not a butterfingers like me and are constantly dropping your batteries. That repeated fall from a height of three to four feet is not recommended by the manufacturer for extended life of that product.
Try not to drop them and you know those little plastic covers they come with that keep the terminals covered when in your bag? Keep track of those. Over time dust, dirt and corrosion will make the battery contacts weaker. Keep them covered when not in use and they’ll last longer.
A Spare Flash
I always have at least two flash units at all times. They both don’t have to be top of the line e-ttl compatible whiz bang speedlites, the spare can be a plain old manual flash. If you’re forced to use the spare, you’ll just need to chimp more to make sure the exposure is right.
Spare Data Cards
I not only have spare data cards with me, but I have an emergency data card taped to the neck strap of every camera, just in case I become separated from my data card pouch.
I missed some amazing shots on a fire call one time because I was dashing to the station without a spare card. Okay, I was there to fight the fire, not take pictures of it, but it was still a lost opportunity.