Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Inside My Bag

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.

Front Pouch:

  • 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

Top Pouch

This top mesh pouch is reserved for more miscellaneous, “never know when you might need it” type items.

  • Business cards – Never leave home without these either. You never know where or when you will be when someone catches you with your camera out and asks if you have a business card. I’ve gotten more referral business by just being out and having these on me.
  • 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

Bottom Pouch

This pouch is solely dedicated to off-camera lighting equipment, adapters, and attachments.

  • Cactus V2 transmitter and receivers – Say what you will about these little guys, but they have always served me quite well. When you need to trigger your lights remotely, this are my go-to, affordable solution and quite portable as well.
  • 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

Ahhhh yes… the real meat and potatoes of the camera bag. This is where the machine that helps me create beautiful images and scare off self-conscious humans lives. Let’s dive in.

  • 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
  • Flash, Stofen, & sync cable – Again, I love my Nikon products… what can I say? My SB600 has been with me from almost day one of this little hobby and it’s my go-to lighting when on location. I pack it with the Stofen diffuser on (use this one for event photography and “crowd” shots) and my large sync cable for hand-holding the flash off the camera (see a pattern here?).
  • 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.

Happy Holidays!

With tomorrow being Christmas and all, I just wanted to take a moment and tell all my friends, family, fans, and followers how thankful I am for having you all in my life and I hope that everyone is having a very happy holiday season. The love and support that you show me for all that I do really means a lot to a short kid from central Illinois.

2012 is just around the corner and I have a lot of ideas rolling around in the ole noggin’ so get ready. I know it sounds cliché, but I hope to make the next year even better than this one and this one was pretty darn cool thanks to all of you.

So, from me to you and yours, Happy Holidays!

The Other Side of the Lens (My Modeling Experience)

Doctor for a Day

Doctor for a Day

I have a local photographer friend who has been shooting a lot of stock library images as of late. The company that he is “working” for sends him these sheets of random images based around a theme like “Eating Pizza” or “Watching Television” including a list of associated images they want produced with descriptions like “small family of four (4), wearing football jerseys of their favorite teams, watching Sunday football.”

With such a wide range of photos to shoot on a variety of themes on a regular basis, my friend reaches out to his social networks to ask for locations, props, and especially, models. I am always curious what he is up to when I see Facebook posts in my News Feed that say something like “In need of a 50’s diner and a small 8-year-old child” or “Anyone have a dog that can jump through a flaming hoop?”

I’m joking, of course… kind of… but he does ask for some random items at times. Last week, however, he was looking for a model to play doctor for a few images and I volunteered. I find that, as a photographer, it is very beneficial to have experience on both sides of the lens. How am I, as a portrait photographer, supposed to help a model or client pose properly or overcome nervousness in front of the camera if I am unable to put myself in their shoes?

So, I spend as much time as I can spare in front of the camera, helping out fellow photographers and gaining some real experience in modeling myself. A special thanks goes out to my friend and fellow photographer, Travis Baillie, for passing me one of the “rough cut” images to show all of you. Please be nice to Travis and not steal his image off my site; it is copyrighted and he’s got one heck of a temper… really…

What do you think? Am I ready for People’s Sexiest Man of the Year?

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