Stuff Tip, repeat

A repeat of a previous “Stuff Tip”:

Make photos of your flash bags, then annotate these photos (and date them). Now print them. I mean a photo like this – here is my flash bag (yes, that is just my small flash bag):

That is useful for the following reasons:

  • A guide in packing before a shoot.
  • A guide for you and your assistant in packing up after a shoot. I have left items before, but not when I use a checklist.
  • Insurance cover: you never know when you have to prove what you own
  • Travel

Do it.. do it now and live more happily!


Just say NO.

What do professional photographers often say NO to? The very things amateurs say “Must Do” to. Like these:

  • Camera bags. You do not need your camera in a bag. When it is in a bag, you cannot use it. Your camera is for picture taking, not for storing. I carry a camera on one shoulder, and a bag with lenses, flashes, filters, and so on on the other shoulder.
  • Filters. A filter will sometimes do more harm than good. In particular, it can increase lens flare. What happens when you are shooting in the direction of a strong light source. So a filter can decrease your quality, while it can never increase it. But does it not protect? Yes – so when I am shooting in snow, rain or a sandstorm I may put on a filter. Otherwise, no. (But note, I always, always use lens hoods. They reduce flare and prevent damage).
  • Lens caps. A lens cap is a great picture preventer. Need I say more?

Sometimes, less really is more.

I am not saying you cannot use bags, lens caps and filters. What I am saying is that if like me you choose not to, you should not feel guilty. You may find the experience lliberating.

What's in YOUR bag?

What do I carry in my photo bag? I am often asked this question. I was asked it again a few times at the Henry’s Photography and Digital Imaging Show this past weekend, where by the way I spoke to, and with, thousands of people, and loved every minute.

(By the way, if you visited the show and have questions, do feel free to email them to me and I shall answer them on the blog – and sign up for email).

So my bag looks like this:

A photojournalist's camera bag and contents

Camera bag and contents

What does it not contain? A camera. This is on my shoulder, for fast convenient access. Always, even when I am travelling. I do not put the camera in a bag.

What this Domke bag does contain is:

  • Two spare lenses, at least one of them a fast prime like the 35mm f/1.4 or the 50mm f/1.4
  • Lens hoods, one for each lens
  • A 580EX II flash
  • A 430EX II flash
  • Flash Modifiers: A Honl grid and a set of Honl bounce cards and a Honl gel set in a roll container, as well as a Gary Fong lightsphere
  • A Hoodman Hood Loupe
  • A container full of memory cards
  • A small grey card
  • Wallet
  • Note pad
  • Spare batteries for cameras and flashes
  • Business cards
  • A small brush
  • Pens
  • Pills (headache, throat)
  • Plastic bags
  • Shower caps, elastic bands, etc

You can never be too prepared. Be like NASA (“do I really need each gram of this weight?”), but once you decide you need it: bring it!

Travel Tip

When you travel with a suitcase, bring two camera bags. A small one and a large one.

The trick: one of these bags goes into your suitcase, filled with underwear, socks and other things you were going to bring anyway. That way it takes up no space.

So now when you get to your destination, you have a choice of camera bags every day: the large one, or the small one.