Who doesn’t love seeing what kind of camera gear someone else carries in their bag? I’ve always been a big fan of The Photo Brigade’s “In My Bag” column in which they highlight the contents of a photographer’s gear bag. I find it interesting to compare and contrast my gear bag with someone else’s, and sometimes I’ll even learn about a new piece of gear that sounds like a worthy addition to my collection. Taking after The Photo Brigade’s feature, I decided to do my own “In My Bag” piece, highlighting the gear I like to carry with me in various portable shooting scenarios, mainly event photography and casual urban shooting. If I highlighted my studio lighting equipment, that would take up a whole post in itself (which may grace the pages of this blog sometime soon!).
Event Photography Gear Bag
This is my staple collection of gear that I carry with me when shooting long events and music festivals. Generally, I roll with two DSLRs strapped to my body with two separate Black Rapid R-Straps. I had both the R-Strap Sport and women’s Elle R-Strap gifted to me, so I’ve held off on purchasing a Double strap, although I hear they work well. The rest of the gear is stowed in my handy Timbuk2 Q Laptop Bag or my Think Tank Retrospective 10 Camera Bag. I go more in-depth about camera bags in a later section of this post.
Cameras and Lenses
- Manfrotto LED Maxima light
- Canon 580EXII Speedlite
- GoPro Hero
- cable remote release
- ND grad filter and polarizing filter
- 2 Black Rapid R-Straps
- memory card wallet
- Panasonic Eneloop rechargeable batteries (the most reliable!)
- Anker Astro external battery
- mini reflector
- Google Nexus tablet
These last few items might have you scratching your head. No, I don’t include the tablet as a mini entertainment center (although that’s an option too). Rather, the tablet, cables, and 4G hotspot are for my new found ability to shoot tethered with a tablet and/or view the contents of my camera on a tablet as soon as they’re shot. This is a benefit for clients who might want to view the shots on the spot, or for the social media coordinators at the event who want an image or two to upload to Facebook while the event is still going on.
Event Photography Extras – Kept in my car trunk for easy access as needed
As I mention in my event photography blog, there are many event photography shots to be had when you can elevate yourself above the crowds. Sometimes, this can be done by getting to a rooftop or going up to the top floor of a venue, but when you don’t have these luxuries, the above photo tools are great to have in the trunk of your car. I particularly enjoy using the monopod with my GoPro Hero2 attached to take some quick video or a few still shots. The GoPro is certainly more lightweight and easier to elevate into the air than a DSLR camera.
Urban Exploration Gear Bag
Due to multiple shoulder injuries resulting from carrying too much camera gear, I’ve learned to make do with shooting with less camera gear. It’s actually been a fun photo challenge to go out on casual photo walks with a single DSLR and lens in hand, learning to compose and take great photos with less gear. Through this method, I’ve learned to make do without what used to be my staple photo lens, the 24-70mm f/2.8 midrange zoom, opting instead for a wide angle, telephoto lens, and my 50mm prime as my main lenses to carry. The 24-70 is reserved for occasions when I have the luxury of toting around more camera gear, say when doing food, product, or portrait photography.
When I’m not shooting for work, my gear bag of choice is quite small, yet highly functional. I pack my Canon 6D with a 50mm f/1.8, small silver/gold reflector, slim Elle R-Strap, and memory card wallet into a medium-sized purse, and off I go! It’s small, discrete, and best of all, easy on my shoulders and back.
Other Great Gear – Benro Travel Flat Tripod
Last fall, I was flown out to Orlando to do some location shooting at the University of Central Florida. There would be lots of night shooting involved, so it was essential to bring a tripod. Admittedly, the only tripod I had at the time was a hunk of plastic that would do in a pinch, but wasn’t suitable for pro-level shoots. Flipping through photo catalogues, my instinct was to go for a lightweight, highly compact Gitzo Traveler tripod, but the high price tag simply wouldn’t fit in my budget. After days of research, I decided on the Benro A2190T Travel Flat Tripod. What appealed most was this tripod’s ability to be folded flat, allowing for easy stowage into a carry on suitcase, and its light weight of 3.3 lbs, along with its ability to carry a maximum load of 26.4 lbs. A year after buying and using this tripod, I couldn’t be more satisfied. It’s lightweight, packs up nicely into the carrying case it comes with, and is easy to transport and setup in pretty much any outdoor or indoor scenario.
Coming up with a camera bag solution is a huge challenge with the plethora of fantastic bag options out there. When I first started accumulating more than one camera lens back in 2009, I decided a proper camera bag was necessary. I went with the highly reputable Think Tank option, opting for the Retrospective 10. One of the smaller bags, it fit my then needs of holding a single pro-size DSLR body and 2-4 lenses. I loved the minimalist yet sturdy design, and best of all, its velcro front flap that made it easy to access my treasure trove of lenses while shooting a high energy event.
Eventually, my collection of camera gear inevitably grew and I found that stuffing a pro-size DSLR with 3 large lenses simply wouldn’t fit in the Retrospective 10. I moved up to the Retrospective 30, a larger version of the 10 that would carry 2 pro size DSLRs and 3-6 lenses. I still have both Think Tank bags, which I’ve come to embrace lately as I’ve been learning to shoot with less gear. Over time, I have learned that the ability to stuff more gear into bigger camera bags does not protect your body from the pains of carrying an extremely heavy camera bag. This is why I decided against Think Tank’s popular Urban Disguise combination camera and laptop bags, in favor of the more ergonomic Think Tank Change Up bag instead.
As I began to do more travel photography, I did however decide that a laptop bag of some sort was needed. I shopped around for weeks, looking for a slim yet efficient backpack style laptop bag. Finally, I decided on the Timbuk2 Q laptop bag, which I purchased in 2009 and continue to use today. It’s touted as Timbuk2’s top-selling laptop pack, and I can easily see why. The Q bag has a slightly unusual backpack design with the laptop section in its own compartment on the back-facing side of the bag, allowing for easy access without having to take the bag off. Additionally, I’ve found that I can easily use this bag as a combination laptop-camera bag by stowing my cameras in the roomy front-facing pouch. It’s a great travel pack that looks urban enough for use around the city as well.