Tape Up Your Gear

Aside from the conventional “what camera/lens are you shooting with” the most common question I get from onlookers and fellow photographers is “why is there tape all over your camera?”

And truth be told it’s not just my camera that’s covered in tape. Pretty much all my equipment and related gear is has an obnoxiously colored sticker or tape stuck on it.


I started taping up the labels on my camera back in college to help subtly distinguish my gear from my peers. I did this using black gaffer’s tape. Nowadays however I specifically use obnoxiously bright colors to differentiate my equipment. I no longer wish for my gear to subtly blend in with the sea of typical, everyday DSLRs. No, now they must scream I am Melly’s!!! Here’s why you should tape up your gear:

It’s Easier to Keep Track of Everything

After you reach a certain level with gear acquisition you’ll soon discover that everyone has the same products. Cases, memory cards, laptops, phones, lens, you name it!  Marking your gear with tape (or any other form of individualization) helps you identify your things from anyone else’s.

Take for instance the Pelican 1510 case. It’s a spectacular case that has wheels, a pop out handle, fits in the overhead compartment of airplanes, and can take a beating a still protect its contents (one of my friends hit my case with her car on accident –no casualties.) With its quality and features it’s quite a popular case among my peers. On one job my director pal, Sean Willis, and I showed up with the same exact case.


Without my additional marking it would be easy to switch cases on accident. Or we’d have to have to open up the cases to see its contents to figure out whose case is whose.

It’s Efficient

When I’m on a job the last thing I want to think about is where did I put X, Y, Z piece of equipment. By having a bright marking on my gear I can easily spot my things from across the room. When I’m on set all I really want to focus on is directing and composing the photograph. If I can free up some mental bandwidth with a simple solution such as stickers and tape I’m all for it.


Going back to my twin Pelican 1510 user, Sean Willis, as an example you can see that both of us bring a decent amount of equipment in our camera packages. By staying organized it’s fairly easy to tell what we each have and what our packages are missing if a lens or accessory is out being used. Additionally if a piece of gear is out being used I won’t have to think twice about whether it belongs to either Sean or myself. I just have to look for one of my stickers.

I even stuck a marker on the end of my MacBook’s power cable. How many times have you been working from a shared space –like a coffee shop [Essentials to Work From a Coffee Shop] and someone is about to leave and then unplugs your computer instead of their own or vice versa. Yea that’s never going to happen to me again.


Speaking of Efficiency…

I’ve replaced the stickers on the front and back lens cap with bright blue tape! On a few recent jobs I had photo assistants help me with tasks such as prepping my lens. In some shoot situations I’ll be shooting on a long lens like a 70-200, then decide to switch to something wider like a 50mm. I’ll then request my assistant to bring the 50mm while I continue. Since my assistants weren’t as familiar with my gear it took them a bit longer to fetch me the lens.

It shouldn’t take more than a few seconds to figure out one lens from another. I decided to remedy this inefficiency by labeling my lens using gaffer’s tape and a Sharpie.


I placed about an 1-inch piece of tape on the front and back caps of each of my lens. Then with a Sharpie (or any other permanent marker) I wrote the focal length of each respective lens in bold letters. This way it would be easy for anyone working with me to prep lens.





Here’s the present state of my camera package. Nice, organized, and full of efficiency! So tape up your gear!


Equipment Used:

Black Gaffer’s Tape
Blue Gaffer’s Tape

Melly’s Case Setup:

Pelican 1510 (without foam)
TrekPak for Pelican 1500 Series – blog.mellylee.com/2013/11/trekpak

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