Photography can be a bit messy. It's not just cameras, but all that comes with them: lenses, batteries, memory cards, cables, computer, hard drives, camera bags, lens clothes, cable release, tripods... even worse if we shoot film: add chemicals, developing tanks and film itself among many more items.
I've always struggled with keeping things tidy, so staying organized in my photography has been a big challenge for me. I've found myself missing items in bags, not having enough space in the memory card (even forgetting them), dirty lenses and sensors, and a long list of mistakes.
There's a french concept used by professional chefs: mise en place. It refers to the set up before cooking, where they have all tools and ingredients where they want them to be, ready to go.
Let's apply the same approach to photography: if we know where every item is in our bag, and everything is ready to go, we've eliminated most of the friction and we will be better prepared to make the image we want.
This is what I try to achieve when it comes to my camera gear. I still have a lot to improve, but these are some tips I've found useful during the years.
Use rubber bands for batteries
I wrap my full-charged batteries with a rubber band and keep them in a plastic bag. Once depleted, I put them back in the same bag.
This way I know where all the batteries are, all the time, and which ones are ready to go and which ones need to be charged. Which I do as soon as I can, by the way.
Keep filters and small items in pouches
Don't toss them in pockets. I have a little pouch where I keep my ND filters and the holder, along with the step-up rings I need to use those filters on my lenses.
Everything I need to use the filters is in that pouch, and there's no double guessing.
Do the same for small items like batteries. We want to avoid clutter.
Don't bring too much gear
This one is obvious: bring only the gear you think you'll use.
Ideally, you wouldn't even have more gear than you can fit in your camera bag. Using a small bag will make you be more conscious about adding new items to your collection. I downgraded my camera gear for the sake of size, weight and simplicity.
Stick to the same camera brand
There are many good reasons to have more than one camera: one camera could have a telephoto lens mounted on all the time, while a second camera could have a standard zoom or some prime lens; we might want a third camera if we are recording video or capturing timelapses.
In any case, if we have more than one camera, try to stick to the same brand and series of cameras. Ideally all of the cameras will use the same lenses, batteries and memory cards, so we don't have to carry duplicates.
Keep your gear in your bag
I haven't had a permanent home for almost 2 years, so I don't have any dedicated space to store my camera gear. It's always in my bag, even my tripod.
This not only prevents me from buying new pieces of equipment I can't even fit in my bag, but it also means I'm always ready to get out and shoot.
Never underestimate this. Just a few days ago, I was able to capture some of the best images I've made this summer so far because my camera was ready to go, with full batteries and enough space in the memory card.