Thursday, February 4, 2016

What is in your bag, on your shoulder, in your pocket, at your hand, in your mind?

 (This small article has been inspired by the interesting and nicely done video by Take Kayo from bigheadtaco.com: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BccQl5Qq2G0   )

Can you see the "bag" back curve?
Photo Manon Paquette
Everybody is really curious about what, how and why the others are doing things. And as photographers are basically curious people (I hope so!)  It is very intriguing to know what are the contents of these magic gadget photo bags. Yes things are changing especially from the past era of heavily loaded photographs with a plethora of equipment to be used primarily or as backup and backup of backup.

Film era
At the beginning of the film era it was impossible to be certain of the final result of your photographs until it has been fully processed and printed (or projected). So most photographers who pretend to be serious in their involvement to the medium were sharing a certain amount of insecurity regarding the use of their equipment. In that regard, many were bringing with them a lot of items. Only so call “ordinary” people never care about this and were using a single camera to register their souvenirs.

A camera for each different purpose!
It brings me back to my own beginning in professional photography as a way of living ($$$) and of doing something that I was passionate. At that point the photo equipment and the different type of films used have strong technical limitations. If your needs were diversified in term of subjects or types of output generally speaking most photographers were using at least two or three cameras bodies and an array of different fix focal length lenses. Just reminder those emblematic magazine reporters with their Domke bag filled with Nikon F cameras like the actor Nick Nolte into the “Under Fire” 1983 movie.

Lowepro Magnum First generation in gray presentation 
( Web  Picture )
For my part my Lowepro Magnum “grey” reporter bag was including 2 Nikon F3 HP, 1 F2AS as a back up, Nikkor AI-S 24mm, 35mm, 55mm, 105mm and 300mm lenses, a Metz 45 CT1 handle flash unit, a Sekonic light meter and many films, filters (mainly for color or contrast corrections plus the polarized) and others little parts. My other Lowepro Magnum “blue” studio bag was containing a Mamiya RZ67, three lenses (wide, normal and telephoto), waist level and prism viewfinder, a Gossen exposure meter, two roll film backs, a Polaroid back and plenty of accessories. After several years of that regime my back had enough of all this overcharge equipment. (Small note: I was hiring an assistant only in very specific situations on location or studio shooting)

I love the Fujifilm interpretation of photo evolution 
( Fujifilm Corporate Advertising picture )
With time I have learned that the over equipment phenomena is inducing mismanagement of their functionalities, great fatigue and more important great loss of photographic opportunities. You have to be selective if you want to really take control of your creative output. Yes you can have at your disposal a lot of different parts but you cannot use them efficiently at the same exact moment of time. So you need to be selective and learn to better apprehend your subject or context to photograph.

Digital Age
What advantages the digital age has offered to us compared to the film era. Firstly no more films had to be selected in terms of color or B&W, or different ISO, or different final supports (Negative or slide), or length (12, 24, 36, even 250 in 24X36mm format).
Secondly the instant verification of the output that helps to pinpoint the good combination of adjustments to do with the equipment and … the subject. So no more back up pictures and no more back up of back up as we use to do.
Thirdly the super in-board post treatment will optimize the lens performance by preventing aberrations of every type.
Fourthly even if the automation trend has started during the last decennials of the film era, much automatic functionality such as autofocus and auto exposure have been greatly improved in the digital age. Auto-focus anticipation has never been so efficient although it stays a difficult task. The same can be said for the in-board exposure metering.
So what is in the “digital” bag? For many of us a lot less in term of equipment but as a result a lot more output and that is the real victory over the dark ages of the film era…

The concept behind the Lowepro Passport sling bag 
 (From Lower Web site )
My today bag (which is also my travel bag) is very small and light.  It may or may not contain a lot a different things depending the context I am anticipating to use it. But you will find at least one camera device (mainly a mirrorless model equipped with a versatile fix or zoom lens plus a small telephoto) and the indispensable accessories such as a spare full charge battery, an additional memory card, a lens cleaning kit, a small battery charger, my mini iPad along with the SD card reader adapter, the ac adapter and my earphones, a small notebook, a pens, a bottle of water, a nutritive bar, a cleaning towel and my Swiss knife if I can find it.  To fulfil all that my favourite bag of the last 5-6 years is a Lowepro Passport, first generation. On travel I will usually add a very small compact camera with a wide-angle zoom lens as a backup. Sometime I will bring also very light clothing and some personal care products for an emergency or a short stay-in. I prefer a shoulder bag for its immediate access and its less evident showing.

Photo Manon Paquette


For sure the best bag will be the one that doesn’t interfere into your activity and inspiration. So its dimension and internal content is more a personal choice. There is a multitude of interpretations on “What can be in your bag?”.











Photo Manon Paquette
The other bag
But I found much more interesting to know what is in your “virtual” bag. I mean your experience, your motivation, your inspiration, your enthusiasm, your creativity, your openness, etc. As we do love photography it’s our passion that drive us to go further to find the “next” picture.