What's In My Camera Bag
One of the first things I do before going on a trip is to figure out what bag (or two) I’m going to use, and what stuff I’m going to bring. There’s a lot to consider when packing - like what’s the weather going to be like, do I need shoes that can get muddy or are we going to a fancy dinner and I need to look nice…you know, the usual questions one might ask. Not to mention, I’m always wondering what camera gear can I bring.
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I have a few solutions for bringing camera gear with me, depending on the situation. If I’m just going out for the day around town, I pop on the smallest lens I have and throw my camera inside my purse. Or I might not even try to hide the fact I have a camera and just wear it using my cross-body strap.
However, If I have more time on my hands, like say, a road trip, for example, I will bring everything I have! It’s so nice to house all of my gear in one spot. It makes it easier to stay organized, find what I need and get out and shoot!
#1 - The Bag
So first things first. I recently tested out a new solution for bringing all of my camera gear out with me. I converted Frost River’s River Bank Tackle Box into my camera bag, and let me confirm friends, it holds everything.
This bag was an amazing fit for me because of all of the dividers and pockets it has! It’s important to keep everything organized and separated so that you don’t damage your fragile gear.
I converted this soft-sided tackle box into a camera bag by simply adding small washcloths for some extra padding to protect the body of my camera. Viola!
And as an added bonus, I can always just remove the inner panel and use it as a water-resistant duffle if I don't need to bring all of my gear with me.
What I’ve learned is you don’t have to have a traditional camera bag to be successful, but having a bag that can hold all of your gear in one place is essential for ensuring that you are ready to capture the moment when you need to! Stories matter and I for one don’t want to miss them because I wasn’t ready.
I always keep an extra pack of Instax mini film with me just in case I plan on shooting polaroids. They make such wonderful little keepsakes of travels and I love being able to give them to my friends at parties.
Ok, technically this isn’t apart of my camera gear per se, but I like to have styling options while shooting, so I usually have a hat with me. Not to mention, if my hair is looking like a hot mess, It’s so much easier to just throw on a hat! This one is from Palm & Peak
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I usually have some kind of pain killer on hand.. you just never know when the need will arise and I like to be prepared for anything.
This is more for personal styling than an actual need while shooting. A lot of my travel photos are of me wearing hats and sunglasses because it’s a quick an easy way to hide the fact I haven’t showered in a few days and the massive bags under my eyes from lack of sleep.
6. Lens Pen
Retractable soft brush lens cleaner for safely cleaning the glass on my lenses
7. Polarizer Case
Soft-sided case to store all of my polarizers, ND filters, and extra SD cards.
I like to have a few options with me so I can quickly change out a look or touch up existing makeup. I typically have a headband, some lotion and some lipstick with me, stored inside my Frost River accessories bag
If I’m carrying around this large of a bag, I don’t want to also carry a purse if I don’t have to. So I just throw my wallet in the back pocket of this camera bag.
10. Hand Warmers
I don’t have these every time I shoot, but they definitely are necessary for the cold Minnesota winters. It’s difficult to shoot when your hands are numb! In the photo below, I’m actually holding the hand warmers, hidden in my fists. You can’t tell in the final shot, but it made all the difference between shots!
I literally don’t go anywhere without snacks. I feel like I’ve tried just about every granola/fruit/nut bar that’s in the market, and the Patagonia Provision bars are hands down my all-time favorite. They are soft and chewy and made from all-natural, organic ingredients. No added sugar = no sugar crashes later. Are they cheap? Not even a little bit. Are they worth the price? You bet your ass they are!
12. Battery Charger + Extra Battery
An extra battery is a must! If I know I’m shooting, I’ll charge both batteries the night before, but sometimes an impromptu photo op will arise and it’s always a good plan to have more than one battery with you!
13. Water bottle
I never leave home without a water bottle! So having a (leak-proof) bottle in my camera bag is a no-brainer.
14. Lens Cleaner + ND filter
I use the microfiber lens cloth to keep my lenses and filters dust-free.
The ND (neutral density) filter is great for shooting in bright light and is an added layer of protection on the glass of my lenses. It’s basically sunglasses for your lens! If you haven’t tried shooting with filters, I highly recommend you give it a try and see the difference for yourself. If you’re not sure what size to get, just check out the MM of the lens you need the filter for, listed in either at the top rim or on the side edge of the lens. (Ex. my go-to lens is 67mm, so I use a 67mm filter.)
Below, you can see the difference as I compare photos shot in similar settings and light conditions, taken about a year apart. On the left, I don’t have a filter. On the right, I do. You’ll notice more detail in the sky and more even lighting/coloring throughout the image taken using an ND filter.
15. Instax camera battery charger
The battery on my Instax actually lasts a very long time, but it’s never a bad plan to have the chargers with you for a quick boost.
My go-to lens is actually what came with my Canon 80D body - the EFS 18-135mm. I know some photographers think the kit lenses are garbage, but I find it great for travel and everyday photos that I’m typically shooting. For me, it has enough range to capture what I need it to.
If you are just starting out, practice shooting with the lens that comes with your camera body. You may find it’s perfect for what you need. If you decide later you’d like to invest in more expensive lenses, then go for it! But don’t do it because you feel pressured like you have to. Only buy what you will actually use.
17. Mini Tripod
I recently acquired this Pro Master crazy legs tripod that has been great for travel photography. I’m typically shooting alone, so I’ve been setting up my camera on this baby instead of trying to precariously balance my camera on a rock… (yeah I’ve been there)
18. Crossbody camera strap
A friend of mine gave me this BlackRapid cross shot camera strap and I absolutely love it. You wear your camera strapped over your shoulder, with the body of the camera upside-down at your hips. This allows you to limit how much the camera is moving around on your body as you walk, but makes it easy for you to grab and shoot. I love it for traveling and hiking because it’s more comfortable to wear than a typical neck strap.
19. Neck strap
Although I do usually keep the crossbody strap on my camera, I like to keep the neck strap the camera came with as a backup.
20. Frost River Accessories Zip Pouch
I store all of my little odds and ends - accessories, makeup, lotion, etc. inside my Frost River accessories bags so I don’t lose anything inside the larger pockets of my camera bag.
21. Soft-sided lens case
For added protection of my lenses, I have a soft-sided drawstring pouch to store them in.
22. Instax camera
I love my instax mini 90 Polaroid camera. It’s just so fun to shoot with and I love having imperfect little snapshots of our travels around the house. Not to mention, it makes a great prop!
There you have it, everything that I keep stored in my camera bag! If you’re just starting out yourself, I would recommend finding a camera that you love and build from there. You don’t have to go out and buy everything at once. My collection has been forming slowly over the years as I discover what I like and don’t like through trial and error.
If all you have is a phone to take photos with, use it! Go out and have fun because the best gear you have, is the gear you have with you.
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