Save it For a Rainy Day

April 2, 2008 tips & tricks

From: Alex Lucas, WTVF Nashville

Load up your rain jacket’s pockets with necessities on a dry day, so you don’t have to fumble with what you need in the rain, and you don’t have to carry a bag.

We’ve all been caught in the rain with something giving us trouble, and knew if we’d prepared, we would have been fine. The best way to take care of bad weather is to prepare for it, every day. Here is a simple system to make sure you have everything you need in a rain storm, preloaded, and on you at all times. Here are three things that make life easier when you have them around, and they cost pennies. You will always need:

  1. Plastic sandwich bags.
  2. Some kind of dry towel scraps.
  3. Cheap, thin, clear plastic trash bags.

Put several little dry towels in a plastic sandwich bag and throw them in the same pocket. I’ll take that Nobel Prize now.

If you load up at least three plastic sandwich bags with dry towels, you’re golden. Open up the first bag, and use the plastic sandwich bag as a “rain hat” for your AB Ultralight or Frezzi. You now have two guaranteed dry wipes left, and you can get as wet as you need before you have to go back to your vehicle. The big secret is to keep the wipes separate, and dry, and you don’t ruin the bunch. Sandwich bags also make good all weather tape protectors for reporters who don’t take care of tapes in rain like they should.

The trash bags, (I keep at least three in my jacket) can bag up cords and devices that you use for lives, and make a good temporary camera jacket if you didn’t expect it to do anything but mist, and then the rain came. Always opt for the clear bags… talent can still see the off-air TV, and you can see what’s going on inside, without opening the bag. You just can’t count on the live truck having plastic bags. You can count on your producer wanting a liveshot, if there isn’t a safety issue. Bring your own trash bags.

These are obvious tips, but the real advice is to PRE-load them so your rain jacket is grab and go.


  1. John says:

    Thanks man I’m a novice photog here in Louisiana, and we get more rain than you could imagine… on Mardi Gras day I had a live shot (One man Band) at the start of one of the parades I had to use my rain coat to cover my off air monitor… smart call on the clear plastic bags, I have to honestly say I didn’t think about doing that… okay so I’m a newbie but at least I’m learning.

    Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned for anyone that’s a novice like me and has a parade coming up. News directors, reporters, anchors and producers alike love nat sound from a marching band or a crowd, but hows about climbing into a float. Here, in Louisiana it’s really easy to do mostly because at Mardi Gras everyone is drunk, but still parades stop all the time, just climb on in. It can make for a great pseudo “God’s Eye” shot of the crowd and sometimes can yield some great nat mic interviews with people there.

    Just be careful to not leave any of your equipment on the float as we all know, just as parades can come to a stop they can just as soon speed up. If you leave the float and then try to turn back to get something, you may not be able to run and catch up. Covering ten parades over a two week span I have found that this is a good plan for a parade, you don’t even need to be on the float for longer than a block or two, just get creative.

    Parades are usually really fun and you need to show that through your videography… show your viewers what they might not have been able to see standing on the sidelines watching the parade pass by. Also low angle shots on marching bands, are always fun. Stand in the middle of the street as they are about to pass by and crouch down to the ground with your camera angled upwards, if you take the band’s first pass as one continuous clip it makes for a great NAT/VO. Stay in one spot until the band completely passes, normally they will just morph the shape of their lines to account for the added obstacle… you!

    Hope I could help someone and again, thanks for the tip Kevin.

  2. David R. Busse says:

    Great tips.
    I pack two Gore-Tex jackets for rain duty…when one gets drenched, another dry one is at the ready. Same with extra gloves…

    Instead of carrying towels as lens wipes, I carry pieces of high-grade automotive chamois, cut into approx 8-inch squares. They do quite nicely as lens wipes even when the get wet–more important, they dry quickly.

    Finally, the trash bag idea is a good one…so is the idea of carrying several small sandwich-size bags to protect the transmitter on your wireless mic.

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