A Photo Assistant’s Grip Kit

Do you have your own grip-kit? If not, you probably should.

When I first started assisting, it seemed unnatural for me to just show up to a studio, or on location, empty-handed. So, I decided to put some essential tools into a simple fanny-pack.

What should you put in your grip-kit? Here’s a list of what I have in my fanny-pack grip-kit:

•    Leatherman
•    Gaffers tape
•    AA batteries
•    Flashlight
•    Silk/microfiber cloth to clean lenses
•    Tape measure
•    Sharpie
•    Grip-gloves (for hot-lighs and cold weather)
•    Clothes pins/small A-clamps/bull-nose clips
•    2-3 plastic trash bags (to cover packs in foul weather)
•    A couple optical slaves
•    A couple 3-prong grounding adapters
•    A few patches of cinefoil
•    A few patches of spun-glass
•    Small gray card
•    Small bullet level
•    Lint roller
•    Blue modeling putty
•    Velcro cable-ties
•    A few band-aids
•    Ibuprofen/aspirin

I consider most of these items essential. But, of course, the contents of the grip-kit can include less, more, and different items based on your needs for a particular shoot. If I know I’m on location, I might bring a power strip, sunscreen, and other important items (warm clothes, towel) that are easily overlooked when packing for a particular trip across town or across country.

Maybe you wonder why you should bring a bunch of these items and tools with you when the photographer probably has all that stuff in their studio. One thing I’ve found is that tools and everyday usage items tend to get strewn about in the studio, on-set. If you haven’t worked at a studio in a while, you might not find everything where you had found it before. Or, maybe you will walk into a job, mid-shoot, after another assistant becomes unavailable on-set. If you’re on location, the answer should be obvious. It’s all about being pro-active and eliminate wasted time and frustrations. It also shows the photographer that you are mindful about being prepared.

What do you have in your grip-kit? Please leave a comment/suggestion about other important items to include in your photo assistant’s grip-kit.


  1. says

    A couple more to consider,
    Painters masking tape, for models shoes(prevents scuffing of ‘samples’ soles),
    Super glue,
    phase tester(screwdriver etc.),
    card reader,

  2. says

    Yea, eversince i started caring an AC tools in the film business, I kind of carried over to stills when I added that to myjob skills. But I added some other things too, but all in the name of durability, compactness and useability: A Scorpion LED flashlite, voltmeter, set of small flat head and Phillips screrwdriver sets, small hex sets in US and Metric, Leatherman,and a box cutter knife from Sears for slicing long pieces of boxes and paper floor papor for houses with carpeting, (it’ll dull your Leatherman in a NY minute) small scissors (you’d be surprised at how far awawy from set the real scissors are, and having a grip bag on a belt with you at all times will make you Johhnny on the spot and you will begin to be looked to for all kinds things other than scissors. Oh, those little 2 prong to 3 prong adadpters for plugs are life savers. And have plenty of fresh big Sharpies, small Sharpies, and pens that write in all condiditions, prefererably a Space Pen. Writes when its upside down and freezing.

  3. says

    Yea, I forgot the small metal torpedo level that fits compactly in the pack or belt pouch and some glues like crazy glue and epoxy kits. All cheap and small.
    Maybe if you wanted to be really the superhero, have a chip cleaning magnifier, swabs, the chemicals and everything, so that way you can at least show the photographer you have the tools and since the Dig. Tech . isn’t here and we’re loosing light, that you can save the day, assuming the camera body and back are on set.
    Also carrie lots of dif. colored types of 1 inch cloth camera tape, black 2 inch, white 2 inch, aluminum foil tape, doublestick, scotch. I carry 3 to 4 rolls of all different types of tape and I use them a lot.

  4. says

    I’ve hired a lot of assistants over the years. The best ones think on their feet, and more often than not, they bring some of their own stuff to the shoot.
    Tim’s post is right on the money. On more than one occasion an assistant I hired had an extra tripod screw adapter, a set of tiny screwdrivers, or a Leatherman that proved indispensable.
    Some people take a lot of time offering “advice” for assistants. This usually involves something to do with making coffee, not talking on the cell phone while “on-duty”, and sweeping floors. All that means nothing if the assistant doesn’t take seriously his/her role in the process of making the photographer’s job easier, isn’t 100% ready for the job, and doesn’t possess the ability to think a few steps ahead of the photographer.
    Tim’s absolutely has the right idea here. He’s shown that he takes the job seriously and he’s prepared. Those are at least a few of the reasons he’s a busy assistant.

  5. Mark says

    Oh and by the way… don’t go overboard on the gear either. I hired a guy (once) who insisted on taping a garbage bag to his pants (we were working inside a small studio with a perfectly fine garbage can nearby.) That wasn’t the only reason we didn’t work together again, but he definitely took the readiness concept too far.

  6. says

    I have worked with a photographer friend on location many times and having ones own or at least knowing how to use the photographers light meter has proven to be a time saver even with a teathered camera and MacBeth card.

  7. Byron says

    Everything said has been great and I use in my kit, but a proven winner and day saver is HOT SAUCE!!!
    bland catering, I always bring hot sauce and It will always save the day!!!
    Try it one day, Bring it to set, Take it out of your bag, use it and place it on the table. It will speared like wildfire and that will help will everyones moods throughout the day!

  8. says

    Memory Card!!
    If you are on location you could literally save the shoot with one of those in your pack. Was on two shoots in my assisting days when the photographer (meeting at the location) didn’t bring a memory card.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>