Not only to avoid a slipped disc or at least painful tension caused by a camera bag that is too heavy, but also to ensure a practical layout and manageability of the photo bag, it is important to take a little time to consider its contents. What exactly belongs in the camera bag depends first of all on two important factors: What type of photography in what setting it should be and what camera bags may already be available. The existing photographic equipment and the level of experience of the photographer also play a role, although some pieces of equipment can be replaced by unconventional everyday items, which offer an inexpensive alternative, especially for beginners. Of course, the capacity of the bag determines, among other things, the objects that can be carried in it. In order to provide a general orientation for the ideal contents of a camera bag and thus also help in the selection of the appropriate bag, a few important points that are dear to the hearts of experienced photographers are explained below. In addition to the photographic equipment, the camera bag should also contain a lot of other things, but that depends entirely on the photographer!
It depends on the occasion
For some endeavors, a photographer needs extensive equipment that includes a camera with various lenses, a reflective umbrella, a heavy tripod, and a laptop to boot. For other occasions, such as a walk around town with the goal of a few street photography snapshots, you'd rather go light as a feather or stalk through the woods for hours until the longed-for bird flutters in front of the lens. So there is no such thing as a camera bag that is ideally packed for every occasion. Rather, it depends on the personal preferences of the photographer, his equipment and, above all, the occasion. However, photographers do appreciate some basics, regardless of whether they are beginners or professionals, school or adventure photographers.
Photo equipment basics
In addition to the camera, there are some basic pieces of equipment that absolutely belong in every camera bag. These include one or more lenses, spare batteries and empty memory cards, as well as cleaning accessories such as lens cleaning cloths, a small brush or a bellows. In addition to these basics, many photographers appreciate a remote shutter release as well as system flashes, for which the appropriate batteries or chargers should of course be packed in the camera bag. Experienced photographers often also use various filters that they always have with them. These include different colored filters or polarizing filters, gray graduated filters or gray filters for long exposures. It becomes somewhat more unwieldy if a tripod or, for example, a reflective umbrella is also to be part of the package. Only on certain occasions can heavy and bulky equipment such as video lights, studio lights or special attachments such as the rigs common in automotive photography be necessary.
Besides the actual photography equipment, it can be helpful to have a little extra space for a map or guidebook. Also, a notebook and pen can be useful for recording special places, lighting conditions at certain times of day, or brilliant ideas for future photo adventures. Depending on the occasion, other items such as snacks, a water bottle, rain jacket, cell phone or wallet may also belong in a well-packed camera bag. Proper compartmentalization in the camera bag is important because it may also narrow down the number of lenses that can be carried. For example, if you would like to accommodate a laptop or a tablet, it is best to pay attention to a corresponding subdivision when buying the camera bag.
The right camera bag
For street photography, inconspicuous bags suitable for everyday use are ideal, while a wedding photographer may prefer to carry more equipment and sometimes reach for a comfortable rolling suitcase. Depending on the occasion and interest, not only the contents but also the shape of the camera bag varies. In general, waterproof and dirt-repellent bags are recommended, which may also have an extra rain cover. Robust bags with internal padding for better protection of the precious contents are also recommended. It is important that the bag is comfortable and convenient for the respective use.
Everything else is actually a matter of taste or depends on the specific requirements for the particular use. The volume of the bag and how it can be transported are important - a wheeled case may be practical when using a variety of equipment, but is of little use on rough terrain in nature photography. In street or travel photography, there are also special issues such as theft protection or even optics. For example, you may want to be less conspicuous and prefer a design suitable for everyday use to the typical photo bag, whose appearance immediately suggests its contents. In addition to practical issues, the appearance and material are of course also dependent on personal style and the camera bag should above all suit the photographer and always be a pleasure to have at hand.
Photography experts know about the little tricks that can sometimes make a big difference. Even though the things they pack in their camera bags may sometimes seem unconventional or even outlandish, handkerchiefs, shower caps and tape can set the stage for a successful photo outing. For example, a white handkerchief can be used for white balance, the shower cap can protect against the most common chamber damage, namely water damage, and the duct tape or tape can replace a second pair of hands and help fix system flashes in a convenient location, for example. A flashlight or headlamp can serve well as an artificial light source, and a small, lightweight tripod with many movable joints, also known as a Gorillapod, can fix the camera in unusual places and thus enable very special angles of view.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating
Ultimately, the ideal contents of a camera bag depends not only on the particular preferences of the wearer and the occasion, but is also conditioned by the bag itself and the camera used. If one is not yet quite sure which components of the equipment are suitable or necessary, it can help to equip the camera bag sometimes minimalist and sometimes with full equipment and to pay attention to what was perhaps missing or superfluous. Especially in the beginning it is important to unpack the camera bag completely after each use, so that the next time no superfluous equipment comes along, which was hidden in the bottom corner... Many photographers also appreciate it to start minimalistically and to expand the equipment in the camera bag gradually with increasing experience!
Pictures: Phil Penman