Like most photographers, I own more than one camera bag. There is my main bag, my video gear bag, my small kit bag, my rolling bag for airplane travel, and that one, never-been-used, just sitting in the back of the closet, camera bag of unknown origin.
An online search for “Kickstarter, camera bag” will reveal an endless series of new bags being created and offered for sale on a regular basis. These offerings come from both well-established camera bag makers and new companies entering this competitive field for the first time. The pitch for any new bag is usually something along the lines of how this particular bag will solve all the problems you have with your current bag. The Kickstarter videos all seem to be made from the same storyboard, with obligatory shots of people modifying concept drawings at a large computer monitor, prototypes being tested, a woman riding up a mountain trail with a camera bag on her back and a yoga mat strapped onto that bag, and a shot of a 16” MacBook Pro being slid into a dedicated compartment. Add some narration about how the bag was been made from recycled materials and the Kickstarter campaign is ready to launch. It is noteworthy that many camera bag campaigns on Kickstarter exceed their funding goals. Clearly, photographers care about camera bags.
I am not as dedicated to my camera bags as other photographers appear to be. Whenever a new camera bag is reviewed here on Fstoppers, the post generates a lot of user comments. People point out what they see as design flaws in that bag and often give their favorite bag's name and model number. As I type these words, I don’t know the maker of my main camera bag but I believe it is made by Lowepro. As I step away from my computer to examine the bag, I find it is a discontinued Lowepro bag similar in design to the Lowepro Fastback Pro BP 250 AWIII.
I notice a lot of photographers wear their camera bags on their backs while doing event photography. I find it difficult to navigate through the crowd when I’m wearing a bag. Also, there is no place to secure a camera bag at most events and I risk the bag being stolen by bringing it to an event and leaving it unattended. For these reasons, I often don’t bring a camera bag when photographing an event. I live in NYC where I often take the subway to my destination. It is difficult to transport multiple camera bodies and lenses on the train without a proper camera bag so there are times when I must bring a camera bag when I travel this way. However, if I am driving to a gig, I often leave the bag at home and travel with the gear on the car's floor or in the trunk.
The secret to this minimalist approach is the Domke F-901 and F902 pouch. I’ve been using these for decades because I have yet to see a product better suited for holding lenses, batteries, power bricks, and accessories while one is working. I usually wear 2 or 3 of these pouches when I am photographing events. I use a Lowepro belt to support the weight so that my pants are not being pulled down by the weight of the gear. The pouches are great because they have no padding and once you remove a lens, the pouch lies flat and seems to disappear.
I recently photographed a back-to-school book bag giveaway that was held on a crowded street outside a park in Brooklyn. Because I was able to drive to this event I did not bring a camera bag. I wore a Nikon Z6 with 24-70mm lens on one shoulder, and a Nikon Z7 with 17-35mm lens on the opposite side. The Leica M10 Monochrom with 35mm Summilux was worn around my neck. On my waist were the Lowepro belt and Domke pouches. The smaller pouch held a Profoto A1, and the larger pouch held the older version of the Nikon 70-200mm lens, which I ended up not using this day. The larger pouch is where I place my M10 and 35mm lens when I’m doing street photography or taking pictures at events hosted by my family.
Working this way allows me to move easily through the crowd. And because I have not attempted to hide my bag under a table, I can photograph the event without wondering if someone is stealing my bag while I am working. Perhaps this approach can work for you as well.
What is your favorite camera bag? Do you ever leave it at home when doing event photography?