Ditty Bags! A quintessential part of every photographer’s stock, a ditty bag holds our essential necessities for a shoot. I don’t know what you guys call it but I got used to the term years ago and always lovingly refer to mine as a ditty bag, even though I get the strange looks from my ’20 something assistants. When researching the reason for the name I found this great little article about ditty bag: The Ditty Bag is “a small bag in which a sailor keeps small tools and equipment, also personal articles” according to John Rogers in Origins of Sea Terms: A modern Glossary of seagoing terminology. They did and still do have one main purpose: to hold a sailor’s personal possessions and some tools of the trade. They have even been referred to as a “housewife” because they held all the essentials for repairing clothing, personal belongings as well as everything that was needed on deck!
Nowadays they are used frequently in the film industry. Gaffers and grips have them around their waists. I technically don’t own an actual “ditty bag” but I still refer to any bag that isn’t my housing my cameras and lenses as my ditty bag. B and H makes a really nice one here. And you’re welcome to invest in a nice one like this. I just buy cheap canvas type duffel bags. They get thrown around a lot and I’m okay with not having them on my person when I’m shooting. If you’re an assistant though, it’s a nice thing to have so you can keep all those essentials at arm’s reach! But let’s take a look at what I keep in mine because I’m sure you are all DYING to know!!
My Ditty Bag Includes:
2. Dust off. Great for keeping lenses, uh, dust free! Good for when you’re shooting on the beach on a windy day and you want to do everything you can to keep the sand out of the camera.
3. My handy gloves. Let’s face it: I’m a skinny girl. I get cold very easily. These gloves are great because they keep my hands warm but leave the two most important fingers I need to shoot with exposed! YAY for Etre gloves! I can’t rave about them more!
4. A bottle of Rosco’s Fog juice. One time someone who’s opinion I didn’t really respect told me that they weren’t a “fan of fog machines”. I vowed to use them as often as I could possibly get away with! In fact, I use them so often that I just buy the juice instead of renting it along with the machine. I should just buy the damn machine!!
5. 2 25’ extension cords. SO important, I can’t even tell you!
6. About 50 AA and AAA batteries. Again. You just don’t want to be stranded without them especially when you need….just one……
7. Flash light. Yep. Good to be able to see in dark places.
8. Gels that go over lights. Imagine that! I’m so damn old school I still use color gels!!! Haha….bet you’re going to click on that link…..
9. A manila folder full of blank model releases! Learn to use them cuz I’m terrible at it!
10. A couple of A clamps. Good for holding shit together. Better than a paper clip and a piece of gum, MacGyver!
11. SP Studio Systems 5 in 1 Reflector kit. Why the hell not!
12. An 18% grey card to measure my white balance. Again, learn to use one cuz I just rely on my assistants to figure that out. ; )
13. Camera manuals, pocket wizard manuals, profoto lighting gear manuals. I keep them in a big plastic bag. Its nice to know you can trouble shoot something when you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no phone reception to call the guys at Samy’s and ask the Dumb Question of the Week!
14. Paper cups. Just good to have on hand.
15. Breakfast bars. I try not to encourage my models to eat but if they’re fainting…….( I’m Just KIDDING. Jeez, you guys are so serious!)
16. Bobby pins, hair ties, rubber bands, body stockings, nude bras, hair brush, comb, etc. Yep, the stylists should have all these things but it’s always good to have back up!
17. Latex gloves. Just good to have around.
18. Pot holders. Ditto. Hot lights, Hot heads. Just good to be able to throw one on in case of an emergency.