A while back I wrote this piece on my personal, non-photographic, site. I’ve re-posted it here as the discussion has awoken again elsewhere.
You may know I’m not keen on talking about camera gear. It’s my opinion the gear you use is not what makes the image. Just use what you want to so long as you get the picture.
However, whatever you use there may be a need to carry it in some sort of bag.
The camera bag industry is large, catering as it does to all price points in the huge camera market.
I confess. I have had, even still have, a whole slew of camera bags. All of them stuck in a cupboard. I keep telling myself I’ll sell them someday. Really?
The first bag of note was an early Billingham. I bought it over 30 years ago. It went with me everywhere. It became my everyday bag when I travelled in the Exhibition Industry. So it had been around a bit. It became that knackered on the inside that I had it re-lined by Billingham.
It gave me good service. It even got me into places where I shouldn’t have been, seeing the bag the police thinking I was a press photographer would let me in. This happened once at a demonstration in London and I found myself standing next to Bailey, but that’s another story. We parted company a few months back – the bag that is, not Bailey and me – when I gave it to a friend who was in need of a decent bag.
I’ve had lots more since, and a pretentious group they were too. OK, they had a use when I had heavy pro gear and lots of lenses but now…
Now with my ‘one camera, one lens’ guiding principle I have little need for a “Camera bag” as such. A few years back I bought a fishing bag. It’s perfectly adequate. It was once black but it’s been sun bleached on our travels in India and the far east and now looks delightfully scruffy.
The canvas isn’t waterproof so it has a rubberised insert, probably so you could carry wet fish, which I can remove if I like. It has 2 pockets on the front, one I use for lens cleaners, batteries and other small stuff and the other holds stuff for my medical needs – I wouldn’t need a bag at all if it wasn’t for having to carry pills, potions and needles –“Growing Old Ain’t For Cowards”.
The strap wasn’t very comfortable so I bought a padded strap attachment.
That’s it. Oh, except inside the bag I usually carry a Sainsbury’s “Bag for Life” – tough little bugger – for the odd bit of shopping or more usually for putting the whole bag into so I look even less like a photographer (handy at times).
For the sort of work I do, I like to look as inconspicuous and as invisible as possible. This tired old fishing bag suits me and my style.
If a camera isn’t what “makes” a picture then a flashy camera bag certainly won’t help.
p.s. If I need a bigger bag I take an old black Tenba courier bag out of that cupboard I mentioned, with all the labels removed of course.