Untitled photo

I think this is the first time I’ve done a separate article on the subject! Usually, it’s lumped in with the Mobile section. But this time, I got an extra week in the month to devote to it! It’s more fun than work as it’s based a little more on want vs. need. So much of what I do is based on the practicals and work shouldn’t be all about that. At least, not for me.

Honestly, I was going to include several accessories but it’s going to be all about camera bags. If you want information that I could possibly help you with, just message me via the Contact Me page!

Maybe the most fun accessory for a photographer. Not sure exactly why. Maybe because there is so much more self-expression when choosing a bag. Maybe like choosing a tie. Blue suits or blue jeans are pretty much all the same. But a tie. Now there you can really express yourself. Shoes too.

The Professional Standard – Think Tank Think Tank owns the professional photography market when it comes to photography bags. The three biggest reasons that come to mind are:

1. Build Quality. Bags are built like tanks. Inside and out. Used and properly tested by real, working photographers. It may sound trivial, but it’s pretty hard to find better zippers on a camera bag. Zippers are important. If something is going to break, it’s going to be the zipper.

2. Practical Design. Since professionals are constantly using their bags, they get back a lot of their feedback. In fact, the bigger bags were recently upgraded to new version and what was the upgrade? New wheels and some other little upgrades. You know a product is just about perfect when a version upgrade involves tiny updates.

3. Support. Lifetime warranty. When you need something, they are there. No convoluted support system. Call or Chat with them.

It took years for me to get my first bag. Six years I think. They’re pricey relatively speaking. My first bag was a Spectral 15. A shoulder bag. 4 years later, I use it all the time. It’s not that far from looking new. The materials are super!

Me and my Think Tank Spectral 15. Perfect for New York City. Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

My second bag is the Airport International V3. It was one of the bags I was eyeing for years. That was the bag that I regularly dreamt of myself using when I walked into a client’s office, event or home. And they really listened to feedback of their bags. They regularly were asked to put a lockable pocket in front of the bag for a laptop. That was probably the biggest difference between V2 and V3. And a huge one. It basically makes the bag perfect for its purposes.

The Think Tank International V3. Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

Posing with my new bag. Symbolically, it was a big day! Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

I got this bag in 2019 and it was one of those moments when I felt “I arrived” as a photographer. I made quite the big deal on it on social media!

My latest bag is the Think Tank Production Manager 40. I needed a bigger bag for bigger shoots especially when I would need to bring several light stands, modifiers and strobes. I could’ve used the International Security bag along with other bags to accomplish the same task. But, it can be a real hassle logistically to go that route. Even when using the subway, it’s actually not too bad to take around New York City. The only issue I have is when the subway station doesn’t have an elevator. That’s by far the worst part of carrying the bag via public transit. But when you have a car, it usually fits perfectly and makes a sort of command post. I absolutely love the bag!

Brand spanking new Think Tank Production Manager 40. Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

The Think Tank Production Manager 40. With room to spare! Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

So why did it take 6 years to get my first Think Thank bag and 8 years to get ‘my real’ bag? Cost. Nothing else. They didn’t have any bags I liked for under $200. Especially with shoulder bags. I didn’t want a backpack. And I still don’t have a backpack for photography. The Airport Navigator bag is the cheapest bag I wanted and that’s $300. The International: $400.

Yes, you can get less expensive, professional bags. And they will probably last you a good time too. Sure. But for me, Think Tank is a proven, professional brand. I know these bags will last 10 years and more under demanding conditions.

The More Casual Photography Bag

This is actually a tough one to write about. There is so much more variety and personal choice that concerns the topic. Obviously, I have some opinions….

Billingham. An English brand that started out making bags for fishing and photographers converted them for our use. When watching movies, look for them. You’ll see them everywhere when someone with style needs to carry something. All bags made in England.

The biggest issue I have with camera bags is that they look like camera bags. They usually look very industrial and every shade of black. Charcoal if you’re lucky.

I owned a Billingham once. But I had to sell it to make the rent. It wasn’t just a bag to me. I really loved the bag. It almost brought mee to tears. Why? I loved the style. You don’t have to be a photographer to recognize a Billingham bag. And being a fashion photographer, it gives me some extra credit among the fashion folks. The quality is second to none. And one other, weird quality…

The Billingham 445 Camera Bag. Style and functionality meet. Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

I had the 445 bag which is a bit on the large side. I could carry all the camera I need for a day of street photography. A sweater. Lunch. Maybe a laptop. The weird thing: It wouldn’t make my shoulder sore! It must be the shoulder strap. I’ve carried less all day with my shoulder hating me a few hours after I start the day.

While maybe it doesn’t have the uber-professional look of a Think Tank bag, its elegance gives it an air of professionalism. If I showed up at a family portrait shoot in the park with it, I think it would go over just fine. Street photographers. Architectural photographers. No problem.

My Billingham 445 bag would be with me all day like a dependable friend. Let me help you carry your gear. Cold? Here’s your sweater. Let’s stop for lunch. A good friend. Will 2021 be the year I get my bag back?

Other Brands

There are so many great brands out there. Some I would consider professional level and others, enthusiastic amateur. The brands I’ve used that I’ve been happy with over the years and still have tucked away in storage:

• Lowepro. Seriously underrated. I have a sling bag that I’ve put the wringer and still looks as new as I bought it. No damage whatsoever. It gets uncomfortable with this gear in the bag as shown when you also include an iPad and other little things. But for short work, it's fantastic.

My 2nd Camera Bag: The Lowepro 202AW. Image: Ricardo Gomez Photography

Untitled photo

• Caselogic. Yes. A BestBuy brand basically. But I have a tiny sling bag that was my first camera bag. The amount of stuff I could fit into it was astonishing. A small DSLR camera. Batteries. Memory cards. Wallet. Phone. I was even able to fit an iPad Mini which was crazy! Still have the bag when I want to carry the absolute essentials. There are straps for carrying a small tripod too! Unfortunately, they don't sell this bag anymore. Probably get it on eBay for $40 or so.... Totally worth it.

My First Camera Bag: Case Logic SLR Sling Bag. Images: Case Logic

  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo
  • Untitled photo

I think that’s all I can say about camera bags. I’m pretty much set with them. Maybe I’ll get another Production Manager 40 someday. Or maybe even the 30. Mostly to carry strobes, battery packs and other hardware. Or when I’m doing a big outdoor shoot, the Stand Manager 52 which looks like can hold a bunch of C-stands and light stands. We’ll see. But for now, I’m in great shape. And it cost less than $1000 to get there….

Tech and the Photographer

So there we go. Hope you got some useful information from this month long series. If you would like some additional information, just message me.

When I look at my analytics, I see that the month-long series is a popular one. People don’t realize how much photography is about computer technology. A friend once said:

“Running a photography business is about 5% actual photography and 95% in front of the computer. But that 5% makes it all worthwhile!

Amen to that.

Ricardo Gomez Photography

Originally from San Francisco, Ricardo is now a New York-based photographer specializing in editorial and commercial photography.
Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In