So, what is in my camera bag? Equipment and accessories are very important and yet very personal to a photographer. Each person will have a different way they work depending on the types of imagery they shoot and the sort of equipment they require – it’s almost like Mary Poppins handbag, you never know what they might have inside! So, today I thought I would share my bag of trinkets and the important accessories I cannot live without, in case you guys are also in need of some great photography tips for your camera bag!
It took me a while of searching to find the right camera backpack for my work. I didn’t want something too big and bulky as generally I don’t need more than one body and an extra lens with me at most (unless I’m shooting an event or the odd wedding when I need two bodies with both lenses attached). I found this Kattee camera backpack on Amazon and there are a few things I love about it. Firstly, I like how compartmentalised it is – there is a big open compartment at the top where I can throw in all my bits and bobs such as a purse, SD cards, notebook etc. The bottom part of the bag is where the camera is stored and this can hold up to two lenses and a camera body (one lens attached to the body and the other stored next to it). Not only is it nicely padded out but this mini camera bag can be taken out and used as a separate bag, which I sometimes use when I pop my camera in another handbag! Lastly, you can also slip your laptop down the back of the backpack which is super handy and doesn’t dig into your back as the bag is well padded at the back.
The only thing I would change about this backpack is that I would add some side pockets where you could slide in a bottle of water or umbrella either side. Extra little storage pockets like that are super useful when you’re out and about in the city and don’t want your hands full!
Body: Canon 5D Mark III & IV
The camera I use is a Canon 5D. I have both the Mark III and Mark IV (the iv I invested in last year). I have been a Canon user for years (I actually started out on Nikon but Canon colours are exceptionally better than Nikon if I’m honest, of course that is personal choice!). I love my camera and feel like it’s extension of myself and couldn’t use anything else. I remember when I first decided to pursue my photography career, my parents bought me my first 5D and I cried! It was not only such a generous gift, but was a piece of equipment I had been dreaming of, which symbolised the start of my photography career. When you’re desperate to start a new adventure, that moment you turn a new page and begin that journey can be a very emotional one, so having that amazing camera in my hand ready to use was a special time for me!
Going back to the camera, if I’m honest I actually prefer the Mark III to the Mark IV for a number of reasons. Firstly, I prefer the colours on the Mark III, I noticed as soon as I began using my Mark IV that the colours were more dull and warm. Apparently Adobe made some colour tweaks to the Mark IV, I’m sure there is a way to return them to the Mark III colour scheme but I haven’t figured that out yet so just end up using my Mark III most of the time. Additionally, however, although the touch screen and wifi functionality is super cool on the Mark IV, it eats battery life like no tomorrow. I can use my Mark III for like two full days with a battery, while the mark IV I have to change batteries in half a day (if I’m shooting lots and using wifi etc).
I use a couple of lenses in my photography work, though there are so many that you can choose from depending on the style of photography you do. I am planning to write a more in-depth and technical blogpost about my photography equipment, lenses and other lenses I would love to use, if you guys would like that?
The 24-70mm f2.8 is my number one lens. This was the first lens I got with my Canon 5D Mark III and the lens I made the most use of during my fashion photography course. I love the versatility of the lens, the quality of the imagery at all zoom lengths as well as the slight wide angle feeling it gives to photographs when you zoom all the way out. It is perfect for fashion and travel, which is why I use it so much. I would highly recommend this as a first lens to start out with and a great one if you shoot a wide variety of photography.
The 50mm f1.2 lens is a beautiful portrait prime lens. Prime lens means that there is no zoom functionality on the lens so if you want to crop in closer or further away, you will have to physically walk closer or further away from your subject. It isn’t great for travel when you’re trying to capture narrow streets as it is quite a cropped in lens. I do however, love using this lens to capture intimate and emotional photographs with plenty of blur in the background. It creates a great bokeh effect and works fantastically in low light. Generally this lens is great for street style and romantic imagery.
A reflector is a really important piece of equipment in photography. Being a photographer is about creating, controlling and managing light, in whatever form. From natural light to flash, to continuous lighting. I always carry a small reflector with me in my camera bag because in certain situations it assists a lot with the lighting in my images. In my video on IGTV I demonstrate how a small reflector can elevate a portrait photograph by reflecting light back onto the face. When you take a portrait image in natural light the light comes from above, from the sky, so what a reflector does when held underneath the subject is that it reflects the light back up towards the face to fill out the shadow and gives a beautiful twinkle in the eye. It’s a great little addition to give a pop to your photos and something I may share more about if I do a more in-depth technical photography post in the future!
Before choosing this type of hard-drive I used Maxtor which failed on me twice (I don’t know why I didn’t change the brand of hard-drive the first time – sometimes you do stuff and wonder what was going on in your brain!) Anyway the first time it happened I hadn’t backed my work up on a cloud or other hard-drive and had to pay £650 to retrieve the data (I did this through Fields Data Recovery). That was not a fun day to say the least. Now instead, I use a 1TB Lacie hard-drive and back up all my work on Google Drive. I like the protective rubber cover that goes around the Lacie hard-drive since it’s when you drop your hard-drive that you likely break it and the data inside. They also come in 500MB, or if you want larger up to 5TB. I personally prefer 1TB as it’s not too little storage that fills up quickly but isn’t too large that if it does break you’ve lost tonnes of work – 1TB is generally more manageable. Regarding Google Drive, there are many other cloud storage options, I just find it super easy to use and like the fact that it’s linked to my personal email address. I can access work from anywhere on the Google Drive app and it’s just far more straight forward than other cloud systems. I pay £1.99 a month for 1TB storage and can add more if I need.
LAPTOP + iPad + Mobile phone
My laptop and iPad are both Apple. I’m an avid Apple-user for my computers however not for my phone! My current mobile phone is the Samsung S8+. It is an incredible phone, I’m a big fan. I used to be an Apple mobile phone user and thought I would never move to Android, until my boyfriend finally convinced me. I gave it a try because I was fed up with how much more expensive the new iPhones were getting, it is absolutely ludicrous! I was desperate for an upgrade and decided to give Samsung a try. I immediately liked the Android system and how much easier it is to use with backing up data than iCloud was. The camera on my Samsung is also really incredible – the quality is fantastic both on video and camera modes. When it’s time for an upgrade, the next phone I’m desperate to try out is the Huawei P20 pro. It has amazing reviews given its in-built Leica camera with three lenses, which I’m sure would capture insane photographs!
NOISE CANCELLATION HEAD-PHONES
Noise cancellation head-phones are one of my favourite little gadgets of late. My dad, who is a pilot, used them often when he flies (not in the cockpit but when he’s a passenger!!) because he says the loud and strong hum on the plane can damage your ears over time. When he came to visit me in London and took the Jubilee line, he said straight away I needed to get a pair. This map shows where the noise on the tube is the worst, and there is a section on the Jubilee which is particularly bad. They say the intensity of noise on some parts of tube can be likened to being next to a speaker at a music concert, so it’s not a joke how much damage it can do. I bought this pair of noise-cancellation head-phones and love using them when on the tube or when I’m flying. It makes listening to music much more enjoyable and also protects your ears from long term damage!
We all need to play our part in reducing our plastic usage and since I got my Swell bottle I can’t remember a time I bought a plastic bottle! I always carry it with me in my backpack (taking extra care when I close it as I would not want it spilling all over my bag and damaging my camera) – I almost feel guilty whenever I have to buy one or get a take away coffee. In fact, since about November I decided I would no longer drink coffee in takeaway cup. I realised that I enjoyed my coffee far, far more when I took a moment to sit down and enjoy it in café, drinking it out of a proper mug. I understand that many of you might like to take your coffee away to have in the car or at your desk, but I don’t think there is any excuse now not to have reusable coffee mug with all the amazing designs there are out there! I particularly love the travel mug collection at Kikki K. And yes, it’s an annoying thing to have to remember every day but honestly after using it so much, I now never leave the house without my reusable mug and water bottle. After a while it just becomes a habit that you no longer forget!
I always love having a notebook with me to jot down ideas and to-do lists. I’m a bit of a to-do list fiend, love writing them and crossing them off. I particularly love my Papier notebook. The paper they use is gorgeous quality and the notebooks come in lots of different designs and can be personalised. I also love how thin and easy to carry around they are, not taking up too much space in my backpack!
Towards the end of the year last year I kept noticing that my backpack was full of random bits and bobs cluttering it up. I could never find my lip balm, lipstick, a hair pin or little trinkets like that, which you’re constantly looking for. Consequently I decided I needed a little essentials pouch to carry around that would be small enough to pop in my backpack/a hand bag and not take up too much space. A lovely client of mine gifted me this personalised Kikki K leather pouch and inside I keep all my essential things. Right now I’ve got plasters, painkillers, lipsticks, hair ties, bobby pins and a little tube of mini perfume by Roja, perfect for when I’m heading out to an event in the evening and need a bit of a pick me up!
Along with my purse, keys and phone, I always make sure I have a set of business cards with me. I had my cards printed on Moo.com – a site whose quality I find great and prices I find competitive.