Alright my fellow photo fiends! This month we’ve talked about photo editing, depth of field, and taking a photo walk; for our last week in February we’re going to talk about what to carry in your camera bag and taking photos of people we love.
This is my camera bag and all the junk I put in it:
In general, when I go out to take photos, I like to have all my tools with me. I keep my three camera lenses, an extra lens cap (I learned my lesson after losing a cap down the crack of a glacier once), oodles of memory cards, a spare battery, a lens cleaner, and two lens hoods (you really only need one, but both of mine fit nicely into each other, so I just take them both). I sometimes carry my point-and-shoot camera as well a Flip Camera (not pictured) for videos, but less and less these days as my new DSLR has a video function on it.
But first, what kind of camera bag should I have? My first bag was something like this: but it didn’t fit my things very well. My second bag was pretty much the same but with more room to store things and could carry a laptop. Ultimately, I ended up giving both camera bags away for one big reason: they were too heavy to be carried on my shoulder. Carrying a camera plus lenses plus accessories is heavy. Add a laptop and it’s unreasonable. I suspect my second bag, completely full, weighed something in the field of 25 lbs. I would come home from photo-adventuring and need neck rubs every time (not that getting neck rubs is too bad). So I started carrying everything in my backpack. That wasn’t the greatest solution either because things rolled around, banging into each other, sand got in my bag once, ruining a lens, there was no padding so I had to be very careful putting down my bag, and because it wasn’t organized, I was always digging for stuff. In short, I don’t recommend throwing your camera gear into your backpack. However, there are special camera backpacks you can buy that will fit pretty much everything.
I looked at a lot of camera backpacks but all of them had problems for me–they were too big, too expensive, and too hard to get into. Also, if you travel a lot like I do, it’s easy to slash and dash a camera backpack and well, I’d like to return home with my camera, thanks. The search continued for something easier to use….
After two years of throwing my camera into my backpack (this is how I know that general backpacks are not a good idea), I finally found the bag I really wanted and I bought the Lowpro Passport Sling for $43 at Costco. This bag distributes weight very, has a padded compartment for my camera, little specially sized and easy to access pockets for my memory cards and my extra camera battery, and the side expands to hold more stuff (i.e., more lenses). It’s not ideal (the expanded side is not padded so I still need to be careful when setting it down) but it’s pretty close and, ultimately, the size and weight distribution of this bag wins against all other features (I can comfortably carry it for hours without experiencing neck pains).
It took me a long time to find a camera bag that I liked, but once I found it, I was very happy. It pays to keep looking for the one you want. When buying a camera bag, consider the things I’ve written about here: size, ease of use, weight, compartments, padding, and how it makes your body feel. When you go to the camera shop, ask them to load it up with some weight so you can see what it’ll feel like and then keep looking. Try many, many bags so that you won’t end up like me with two that you don’t like!
So here’s my question for you: what kind of bag do you use and what do you put in it? Leave your response in the comments along with your next photo challenge: take a picture of someone you love. Try to capture their personality or their expressions. Tell us something about the person without using words. If you don’t want to post a photo of someone for privacy reasons, then post a photo of something you love – your cat, your running shoes, your favorite chair! Be creative and try to capture why you love this thing. Next week we’ll talk about portraits and how to improve on what you’ve just taken, then we’ll do it again with the same subject!
Don’t forget that the object of this fun little challenge is to use our cameras and not just show our favorite pictures. To learn how to take better photos, you actually have to take photos. It’s not good enough to just read and remember – you need to practice! If you need a break, don’t worry! Just come back to us when you can (I’m falling behind myself with a new job and a new apartment). If you’re new, feel free to join in by posting your photos in the comments.
Okay, let’s go! Ready, set, shoot!