During my short stint as a reporter I learned many things, particularly what tools I should use.
My most important tool was a smart phone. It took most of my photos and the voice recorder taped most of my interviews. I use an iPhone but the choice is up to you. I did bring along my point and shoot camera when I thought I would need a telephoto lens but the majority of image taking was done with the smart phone’s camera.
I used Apple’s built in Voice Memo feature to record conversations but I also bought an app called TapeACall (external link) to record while I was on the phone. An external microphone proved handy and welcome. It’s uncomfortable to stick a cell phone in someone’s face, as you are forced to do when recording with your camera’s microphone. My mike is from iRig (external link) which is sold over the net and at Guitar City locations. Make sure your microphone fits directly to your camera. Like the camera, you will need to get the microphone very close to your subject. Even two feet away is too far. Get closer.
A vest was extremely useful. Lens caps, notepads, camera, extra lenses, pens, business cards and so on seem to multiply when you are in the field. I got this nice vest at a Bass Pro Shop (external link) but you can find something similar almost everywhere. Just don’t get a fisherman’s vest, they come up too far on your body. You want something with lower pockets.
A lanyard and an ID badge of some sort made me feel better and more confident. You want people to see that you’re upfront about what you are doing. I made up the tag myself but chose a Sponge Bob lanyard as an icebreaker. It’s hard to remain serious when Sponge Bob makes an appearance.
Take business cards (external link), even if they’re not from the group you are reporting for. You always want to give people a way to get in touch if they have questions after you leave.