Spring Cleaning for Photographers

Spring is here, and as the earth springs back to life so, too, do many photographers.  It’s an exciting time, fresh with the promise of colorful blooms, impossibly green grass and leaves, gushing waterfalls and cute baby birds and animals.  It’s also a time when you can’t turn on the TV or pick up a magazine without seeing stories about spring cleaning.  So, it seems like a good idea to do a good spring cleaning of our photography gear as we prepare for a lot of time in the field, shooting the glories of spring.

Purge

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo, the current guru of decluttering.  Part of her shtick is asking if a possession brings you joy.  If not, out it goes.

Does all of your photography gear bring you joy?  Do you use each and every item?  Gear seems to breed in dark places.  Put your camera away in a closet and, the next thing you know, you’ve got all these gadgets on the shelf next to it.  How did they get there?  You don’t even remember buying them.

Did something seem like a good idea at the time but turn out to be something you never use?  Are you hanging on to things you’ve outgrown?  Time to do a gear cleanse and get rid of stuff you aren’t using.  Sell it on eBay.  Give it to a high school photography program.  Give it away on Freecycle.  Why keep it if it’s just taking up space?

Clean

Gear gets dirty.  Man does it get dirty!  Spring is as good a time as any to give your gear a good cleaning.  Vacuum out your camera bag.  Clean your camera sensor.  Clean the front element of your lenses and your filters.

We rely on our tripods and we often abuse them.  They get stuck into mud, sand, salt water; they sit out in the rain and baking sun.  Although it may look intimidating, it’s not that hard to take a tripod apart, give it a good cleaning, lubricate any parts that need it, make it function like new.  You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to use when it’s been cleaned!

If you do a lot of camping and hiking to get your shots, make sure all that gear is clean, too.  And check your hiking/travel/photography clothes—maybe they need to be aired out or put in the wash.

Test

It’s a good idea to make sure everything works.  Some of the stuff we haven’t used in a while might not.  Maybe a battery is dead, a part is missing or something is broken.  Better to find out now than to learn in the field.

Are your boots, backpack, camping gear, clothes, sunscreen and bug spray still good?

Is your vehicle cleaned up, serviced, ready to roll?  Tires have plenty of life?  Battery strong?  Don’t want to have a flat or breakdown way off the grid.

Organize

We’re busy people, always in a hurry.  Sometimes, gear just gets tossed in a closet, rather than properly stowed away.  Things disappear in the clutter.  Spring is a fine time to get your stuff organized in whatever way makes sense to you.  You’re already taking it out to clean and test it.  Then, when the next unexpected photo opportunity comes up you won’t waste hours looking for that one critical thing you didn’t put away last time.  An organized space can keep your gear clean, safe, protected ready.

Update

Is your computer up to date?  Running the current version of the operating system and all your software?  Is your printer software up to date?  If you’re using external drives to store photos, how old are they and do they need to be replaced?

Check your camera manufacturer’s website to see if there’s been a firmware update.  Sometimes even older cameras get updates that add a feature or increase write speed to memory cards.

Is your insurance coverage up to date and is it adequate?  While a homeowner’s policy can cover some gear, it often won’t cover everything, particularly if something happens out in the field.  Your NANPA membership entitles you to special rates on equipment, professional and travel insurance.  See the Members’ Area for more details.

Do you have a photographer’s spring cleaning tip?  Share it with us at publications@nanpa.org.

Happy shooting!