Every photographer in the world gets asked all the time… “What’s in your bag?” “What you shooting on?” “What glass you got?” For me, it’s… “How in the Hell do you fit all of that in there?” I will have to admit that my camera bag is packed like a clown car; I keep almost every piece of portable equipment on me at all times during an average shoot. At any given time, I am prepared to light-paint, create an HDR, shoot a portrait, use a reflector or a softbox, and trigger my flash wirelessly plus shoot with three different lenses.
I pity my poor Tamrac backpack… I’ve stretched it to the limit, literally! Do you want to know how I do it? Well, here’s a personal look inside my camera bag… enjoy!
Outside & Front Pouch
From the first day I took up digital photography, Tamrac has been my go-to bag supplier. They always have some model of bag or backpack that fits the gear I want to keep on me at the time. When I first purchased my little red Tamrac Travel Pack 71 (seen here), I thought I needed a bag large enough for a couple of lenses, a single camera body, and my flash.
Hindsight is always 20/20, though, and I quickly filled her up. I will say I’m currently looking at an upgrade to my bag to something that accommodates all of the gear you will see below and a second body as well, but for the past 3 years, Ole Red has really seen me through.
- Two (2) ball bungees – you never know when you’ll need one; they are perfect for attaching a flash to an odd object or keeping a wireless receiver attached to a light stand
- Filters (77mm 8-stop ND, 67mm 8-stop ND, and 67mm circular polarizer) – I know the old school guys will say I need more, but for slower shutter speeds, beautiful blue skies, and reducing reflections, these are my go-to filters. Everything else can be done in post these days so why carry extra gear?
- White balance cards – I have two: a WhitBal gray card and a tear-out sheet from a Scott Kelby book. Which one do I use most? When I remember that I own them, and that’s rare, the Kelby card works a lot better for me. The WhitBal card is really portable (small enough to hook on a keychain), but I feel it gives too much warmth in most situations.
- Cleaning supplies – never leave home without these items in tow; you never know when you are going to be caught in some high wind or other dusty places where you may need to clean up afterward.
- Lens cleaning tissue paper
- Lens cleaning solution
- Sensor solution
- Package of sensor swabs
- Camera body cap
- Small blower/brush
- Extra tripod mounting plate
Inside – Mesh Pouches
This top mesh pouch is reserved for more miscellaneous, “never know when you might need it” type items.
- Extra battery – pretty self-explanatory, but I always keep a spare battery with me and one at home in the charger.
- iPhone stylus – I’ve recently moved from paper to electronic when I’m in need of a model or property release so it helps to keep a small stylus for models and clients to sign with during shoots.
- Memory cards & case
- Small sync cable and flash mount
- Wireless remote – This is probably one of my most invaluable tools; for anyone who shoots extended shutter speeds or HDR images i.e. any time a tripod is needed for an image, having a wireless camera remote is a cheap alternative to blurry images.
- Small LED flashlight – grabbed a couple of these when I headed to Washington, DC this past year and this is perfect for light-painting in a pinch
This pouch is solely dedicated to off-camera lighting equipment, adapters, and attachments.
- Lumiquest speed straps – I spent a year with nasty velcro strips on my flash until I came across these puppies. Now I keep my speedlights clean, but I’m still able to use all the fun Lumiquest attachments with them without having to worry about them breaking.
- Lumiquest gel holders – The boys over at Lumiquest never cease to amaze me with what they think up and these little gel holders are no different. Not only do they work with the speed strap system, but they are small and compact. The best part is they were designed to work for the Rosco Strobist gel set.
- Rosco Strobist gel set – The great thing about the photography industry is that the vendors of gear have an uncanny knack for talking to those photographers in the field using DIY solutions everyday and then adapting their own creations to fit that need. In the case of these pack of gels, they worked with David Hobby himself to develop a set of gels based on what he uses all the time. Since the man is one of the greatest users of off-camera lighting techniques, it made real sense. They are small and compact, fit over the head of any normal speedlight, and, as I said above, fit wonderfully inside the Lumiquest gel holder. Every type of gel from party colors to color-balance tungsten and green are included.
- Rubber band – wait… what? You have all this fancy gear and… a… rubber band? Yup. Just like the ball bungees I keep in the bag, I use this highly developed piece of technical equipment to hold my Rosco gels on to my flashlight for light-painting. If you know of a better solution, I’m all ears.
Inside – Main Compartment
- Camera body – my faithful, trusty Nikon D60. I used to also have a D40X until I upgraded lenses and sold off the other body for the cash. I hope to upgrade to a D7000 this year.
- Lenses – no good photographer leaves home without some good glass. Bodies are great, but lenses are sexy. For me, I have four lenses and I rotate the three that go with me depending upon my goal for the shoot. I always keep my 18-105 and my “nifty fifty” on me at all times (perfect for everyday shooting and portraits) and rotate between my 70-300 (portraits and concerts) and my 11-16 (landscapes and… well… mostly landscapes).
- Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6
- Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
- Nikkor 70-300mm f/3.5.-5.6
- Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
- Lumiquest Softbox III & 5-in-1 reflector – These are the two items that most people are amazed to see me pack and unpack. I really force them in on top of everything, as you can see, but for portable lighting gear, my SB600, a speed strap, and my softbox make for beautiful light in a pinch as does my 5-in-1 reflector when I’m out on location.
So there you have it… like a clown car, I said, and like a clown car, you can see this bag has been put through the paces.
So what’s in your camera bag? I’m always curious to see how others pack their bags and how they make the decisions they do to bring one piece of gear over another. Let me know in the comments below.