October 4, 2023
During my 15 years of wedding photography, I have tried quite a few different styles of camera bags for carrying my equipment to a wedding. I know that it is a personal choice and it really needs to meet the needs that you have! I can’t make the decision for you, but I can help you with the process by providing you with what I have learned along the way.
Use this as a guide while you are exploring options and making your choice.
I think that the backpack style is amazing because:
📸 It is versatile.
📸 The backpack bags have a lot of room inside of them.
📸 Carrying things on your back means you can be more flexible when you move around. I once shot a wedding in New Orleans where we were shooting a “second line” and my second and I had to do a lot of backwards walking. She had a backpack style bag and was ready and shooting a lot faster than I was, because I had to drop my rolling bag off on the bus.
📸 Backpack bags are usually very discreet. You aren’t rolling over anyone or their toes.
If the backpack style sounds like the style for you, look for one that is specifically designed for photography gear. You want it to be comfortable, have compartments for your different gear, and protect your gear. You have invested a lot into your gear, so you definitely want it to be safe.
Some popular backpack style camera bags are:
I use a rolling bag to store the bulk of my gear on a wedding day. I load it down with extra gear, extra lenses, extra batteries, and even some personal items. All of these things can get quite heavy, even to just lift up to put into a car or bus, and I just don’t want all of that weight on my shoulders. Some rolling bags have straps on them so that they can be converted into a backpack, but I personally don’t use that feature because of the weight.
If you are looking for a great rolling bag for your gear, then I recommend:
When choosing your rolling bag, really think about its durability (I have two Think Tank bags – both for over 15 years and they are in really great condition. I did have a handle that dry rotted on one, but a simple email to the company and they sent me a cover for the handle that works really well), the amount of gear they can carry (you do not want to have to pick and choose what you can carry with you and, as a bonus, one that has a product guarantee (let’s face it – you spend a LOT of money on these bags and your gear).
I view shoulder and sling bags as one in the same, just designed a little differently. I am going to discuss both separately in this section.
I use a shoulder bag for every wedding in addition to my rolling bag. They can be worn on one shoulder or across the body. I use my shoulder bag to keep certain things on my person that I need to be able to access quickly and easily. I like to keep a second lens, batteries, water, and other personal items in my shoulder bag.
The shoulder bag is really discreet. It almost looks like a purse. I am able to wear it most of the day. I usually only take it off at the reception when I am walking around and using my 24-70 and a flash. Shoulder bags are just really convenient.
I use the following shoulder bags:
Other popular options are:
When it comes to sling bags, here are some popular options:
When choosing your brand, look for one that is comfortable to wear and has compartments. Remember that it is nice to have a combination (ex. backpack/sling bag or rolling bag/shoulder bag, etc.) so that you can keep a few things on you and the bulk of your gear in something that you can set down and pick up as needed.
I used to use a fast money maker (or a dual camera strap) that allows you to hold two cameras at the same time). My shoulders and neck started to bother me, so I switched to a holster type system to wear around my waist. I used the spider system, but then my lower back started hurting, so I switched back to a single camera on a strap with my shoulder bag.
Like I said before, though, choosing what to pack your gear in to carry with you to a wedding is personal, and a lot of people really love the belt system because it allows them to carry a lot of gear on their waist and not their shoulders (putting strain on their necks).
Using a belt also gives you a hands free experience. It allows you to squat and stand up really easily as well. Just be aware that it does make you a bit wider than you usually are, so you will need to pay attention while you are walking so as not to bump into anyone or anything.
Some popular systems are:
There are other things to consider outside of the type of bag that you choose. These considerations are: organization, capacity, comfort and ergonomics, durability and weather resistance, and additional features.
📸 Organization and Capacity (how much it can hold) – This is the biggest difference between the ONA Chelsea bag and the kindly bag. The Kindly bag is much smaller than the ONA Chelsea and can’t hold as much gear. The ONA Chelsea bag has the exact amount of compartments that I need and is well designed for organization.
📸 Comfort and Ergonomics – It is important to pay attention to the overall look and feel of the bag. You want something that fits well to your size and shape, has good padding, and is the right size.
Different fabrics and colors give different vibes when you are wearing them. I like to wear all black on a wedding day, so I try to keep everything in that color lane.
📸 Durability and Weather Resistance – A lot of the bags (like the Think Tank series) come with rain covers. I also want a bag that will hold up, not rip or tear over time, and will last.
I really love the bags that I carry that are made of leather. They have held up really well and stood the test of time.
The Think Tank bags have zippers that are really solid and strong. The compartments are laid out well and have lasted great over the years. Think tank also has security and theft protection options (such as locking the bag).
📸 Additional Features – This is something like an extra exterior pocket to keep a styling mat or tripod stand, etc.
Additional features are helpful, but you really have to figure out what works for you.
What we carry our gear in is very important because it protects it and helps us move and navigate the wedding day with ease.
I know that there are so many options out there when it comes to choosing a camera bag. I have shared with you the ones that I have experienced most closely and have the most confidence in.
I hope that this is helpful for you in your search and gives you a great starting point for something that you want to try in your own business.
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