Why We Love Camera Bags
Get ready for some hard truth, buddy!
INT. BACKROOM OF A SEEDY POOL HALL – NIGHT
Under the flicker of a dieing florescent light bulb, folding chairs form a circle where a group of weathered photographers sit slumped, drained of money, time, and purpose. The room reeks of chewing gum, gaffers tape, and new bag.
ZEKE, mid-thirties, velcro tennies, dirty jeans, and moth-eaten thrift shop T-shirt, for the first time in nearly a year of attendance finds the strength – or is it desperation – to stand and mutter the words.
Hi. My name is Zeke. I’m a bag-a-holic.
I know a lot of photographers. I mean, like, too many. And there is only one thing it seems that we all have in common. No, not a love for photography, sadly. A love for camera bags. Ever wonder why that might be?
I think there is some cross over with your average photogs gear addiction. But there are distinct differences in my opinion. Heck, everything on this blog is my opinion, so just factor that in. I think part of the gear addiction sickness, at least in its most severe cases, stems from a form of escapism to say it nicely, or copping out-ism to not be so nice. The idea that, “I can start coming up with creative ideas and finding models and making that short film I’ve always wanted to make or that photo series I’ve been talking about as soon as I get that better camera or faster lens or carbon fiber tripod (and if you aren’t lusting after a carbon fiber tripod, you should be—shame on me!).” That excuse is hokum. That’s right. I said, “hokum!” It’s just risk delay. Delaying the risk that the idea, or worse, the photographer might just suck.
There is always better gear out there or soon will be and if you wait until you have it to get to work, you won’t have learned the skills either creatively or technically to do the idea justice no matter how cool you look holding that $5,000 lens that I really, really want. But I digress.
I doubt many, if any, think that a new camera bag will make their images better. So why the unhealthy accumulation?
I figured it out. It’s potential.
A new camera bag isn’t empty, it’s filled to overflowing the all the potential images and adventures that come along with it. “I’ll put my gear in that camera backpack and take star trail long exposure shots at Moab—just me and coyotes!” “That wheely camera bag will join me as I sprint from the Sky Club lounge breezing through airport security to my first class seat next to Scarlett Johansson on our way to that shoot in London. Scarlett, please! Hands! I’m a happily married man.” Lots of potential.
Sure, part of the reason to get a new bag is you need a different size, or you just never got over those quirks in your current go-to bag. But I’ve had enough bags to know that no bag is going to have all the pockets I want in the spot I want them. And if it did, I’d end up changing the way I work in a couple months and then it wouldn’t. If it was just size and usability I’d bet most of the people reading this could have had several bags custom made to their specifications for less money than they’ve spent for that pile of bags in the closet. But that’s not why why love bags, is it? Not because of how they work. It’s the potential of the future work.
Maybe the motivation for your addiction is different. Maybe you aren’t addicted at all (the first step is to admit that you have a problem). Maybe I just haven’t dove deep enough into my own psyche, and the it has something to do with my childhood of living out of suitcases on the run from the law, washing my feet in bus station toilets. Maybe if just invested in some counseling I’d get to the “real” reason. Honestly, I’d rather spend the money on this new bag I’ve had my eye on.
That said, I’ve got an enormous pile of camera bags, some from companies you’re already familiar with, some from little guys I think you’ll enjoy. Just don’t tell your sponsor I told you where to get them. Soon I’ll start sharing with you my unique take on each—their construction quality, usability, style, and most importantly: Potential.