You’ve booked the shoot site, hired the models, and charged your batteries. Your bags are packed, and all that’s left to do is get to your assignment with all your gear intact.
Now the difficult part: moving valuable and expensive equipment from Point A to Point B without incident. How can you prevent damage or breakage during transit? How can you prevent theft of the bags or their contents? How realistic is it to lug all this stuff around?
Studio Photography’s annual bags and cases compendium serves up the newest and most popular backpacks, portfolios, rolling bags, and other carrying cases for the on-the-go professional photographer. The manufacturers continue to vie for your business by offering the latest in high-tech transit, with comfort enhancements, extra durability, and even a few special secret compartments that only you’ll know about, while the pros talk about what features they like best in their carrying cases.
Adorama worked with top automobile and fashion photographer Joe Farace and his wife, portrait and nature photographer Mary Farace, to come up with its newest Reporter and Daypack backpacks. The Joe Farace Reporter Backpack, designed for digital photographers on assignment, is built to hold a 17-inch or smaller laptop, plus a pro DSLR, a 100-400mm zoom lens, and a full assortment of accessories. The black backpack, constructed out of SOFTEX (a rugged ballistic nylon material), features nine customizable compartments and a separate section with pockets for memory cards, card reader, batteries, PDA, cell phone, and cleaning gear. The Mary Farace Daypack backpack for nature photographers is also available.
Aluminium Case Company
The Archive Case, available in a range of popular artboard sizes, is designed to work without locks or a handle. This minimalist concept in portfolio presentation can be personalized, with a wide range of metal finishes and colored interior felt linings available. The case can be hand-polished for a smooth, sleek look, or painted in a hard-wearing, powder-coated finish. Users can have a company logo or name engraved on the outside of the case.
The Python XL is a rugged backpack designed for professionals who need dependable protection for their laptops. Featuring a weather-resistant ballistic nylon exterior, waterproof zippers, padded pockets, and compartments for large and small items, the Python also comes with a compact clip-on shoulder bag called the Ecto (ideal for an iPod, wallet, small digital camera, and cell phone).
Custom-made portfolios are this company’s signature product, and this portfolio (shown top right), made for photographer Lori Hawkins, represents the ultimate in customization. The corners, spine, stamping, jackets, and pockets are just a few of the 25-plus options available to customers. This particular portfolio is made of genuine leather, and four-lip binding translates to concealed screwposts so the user can gain easy access to the pages without disturbing aesthetics.
Photographer Lori Hawkins:
I worked with Eddie at Brewer-Cantelmo to create a custom portfolio that I could use to show my photographs to editors and other industry professionals. I wanted a portfolio to best represent my work and to make a lasting impression. Eddie took the time to go through each feature of the portfolio line and all the different ways to customize the portfolio. After I showed off my new portfolio to Bruce Davidson, a Magnum photographer, he sent me the following email: “You are somewhat like your portfolio—elegant and waiting to be filled with imagery that is personal and profound.” I went back to Brewer-Cantelmo and ordered two more portfolios, along with custom-designed vinyl bags to carry them in. Brewer-Cantelmo not only gave me a portfolio, they also helped me create a brand.
From one of the more irreverent manufacturers (who else hosts a Beer for Bags event, complete with drinking games?) in our roundup, the Customary Barge backpack features a low-profile comfort harness and “spine slot” back pad. Adjacent to the back pad is a padded slot accessible from the top zipper (able to fit a 17-inch Apple Mac PowerBook). In front of this is a document pocket capable of holding a folder or magazines; the rest of the backpack is split into two compartments, both accessible via long zippers. The upper compartment is ideal for storing laptop accessories, while the lower compartment contains a removable, configurable padded camera/video insert large enough to hold a pro DSLR with standard zoom attached, as well as a spare lens or external flash unit.
Photographer Scott Glowa:
As a photographer who travels frequently with his equipment, my primary concern with a camera bag is comfort. That’s the first thing I loved about the Customary Barge. It’s super-comfortable even when fully loaded. The bag contoured to my back nicely, partly because the generously padded straps transition into the body of the pack almost seamlessly. The laptop sleeve is a perfect fit for my 15-inch Apple Mac PowerBook. The midsection of the pack is where the camera lives—there’s a removable section that is nicely padded and divided for a mid-sized DSLR with a vertical grip and a few lenses.
Crumpler also designed these cool pleated hinges to keep the sections of the bag propped open at the perfect angle when you’re trying to access your equipment, which makes fetching your rig to get a quick shot with the bag slung on your shoulder a snap. The Customary Barge is the perfect mix of utility and comfort for traveling or everyday use, the protective padding is in just the right places, and the configuration of the compartments is perfect. The color scheme and design does not announce to the world, “Hey, look at me—I’m a bag full of expensive photo gear, steal me!” This is a feature every working photojournalist or sports photographer will appreciate.
The 30th anniversary limited-edition F-2 bag, available in navy or sand with beige accent trim, features supple heavyweight cotton canvas that molds around its contents, as well as a water-resistant fabric that includes a repellent treatment in the dyeing process for an extra measure of protection. The patented padded insert system includes a new wide pocket for digital, and adjustable closures on the main flap allow you to close even the most overstuffed bag. Domke bags also include a removable padded bottom board or sewn-in high-density closed-cell padding to protect your equipment.
Photographer Dennis Brack:
Picking the Domke bag I like the most is a difficult choice for me. Certainly the small F-5 shoulder bag I use to carry a camera, passport, tickets, etc., on vacation is the one that I look forward to using the most. The large F-2 bag is another choice, but the ones I actually appreciate the most are the small Belt Pouch and Super Pouch bags with the belt loop. When I get to an assignment, I put them on my belt so they can hold my flash and flash battery pack. With these two bags for the flash and two bodies, I have the freedom to move without the need for a shoulder bag. I have seen belt systems, but they just attract attention to the photographer. These two bags are a low-key solution to my equipment problems. I have two sets of these bags—one khaki and one black, in case I am covering an event in which I have to wear dark pants.
The Storm Case iM2370 is made from Hardigg’s patented HPX high-performance resin, creating a lightweight, air- and watertight compartment for your laptop. The case is wide enough to accommodate most machines up to 17 inches, and multiple layers of cubed foam allow you to customize the fit. A computer protection tray (available for computers smaller than 17 inches) includes configured compartments for CD/DVD and zip drives, spare batteries, stand-alone hard drives, external mice, cell phones, PDAs, and digital cameras. A cushioned handle and available padded shoulder strap make the iM2370 comfortable to carry, and Hardigg’s unique Press & Pull latches stay closed when the case is dropped, but allow for easy opening.