You've got your camera bodies and lenses and want to go on a shoot or on travels. So, you can just use any old backpack or shoulder bag, right? As long as you can pack your gear in, surely it'll do the trick, yeah?
This week, we're looking at why a photographer should invest in a legit camera bag. If you're serious about photography as a hobby or profession, you need to be serious about the luggage you use for your equipment.
DEDICATION IN DESIGN
At the risk of stating the obvious, camera bags are specifically designed to carry photographic products. This might sound basic, but as Photography Talk points out, "For some folks...there might be a belief that any bag will do to transport camera gear." The danger inherent to this is the lack of internal protection for your gear.
I spoke to Boone Speed, a professional photographer who designs Cecilia's leather and cotton twill camera bags with the firm's MD, Michael Fleisch. He explained the overriding importance of using a dedicated camera bag that contains padding. "With a regular bag, your gear will bounce around and get all messed up. You want a bag that's designed purely to protect the gear and gives you easy access."
These are the guiding principles when Boone and Michael design a camera backpack or Messenger Bag. "It has to function without fussiness. It needs to work on the fly and be protective of the gear but make it accessible too."
The essence of a camera bag's utility to a photographer is the options in compartmentalization. Boone says, "We make the bags a platform so a photographer can build it out. We don't tell photographers how to store their gear, we give them options."
"All of us photographers are different. Some want more pockets, some fewer. You customize it to meet your needs."
Custom molded closed-cell foam adds comfort and ventilation for all-day carry
Beyond the practical, there's also the comfort aspect. Photography Talk says of carrying gear in a regular bag, "Not only was my camera body and lens poking me in the back, but I didn't have a good way to carry my tripod either. Between the lumpiness of my gear on my back and my tripod waving around, dangling from a carabiner on the back of the bag, it was a horrible carrying experience."
A dedicated camera bag solves these problems with its features, like the padding and customizable compartments mentioned above, but also other handy features. Photography Talk continues, "The best camera bags also have a means of carrying a tripod that keep it safe and secure."
The hidden tripod pocket in a Cecilia backpack
Why opt for a Cecilia camera bag? They're bags designed by photographers FOR photographers. But there's more than that.
Cecilia takes a painstaking approach to the concept phase. Once a design is in three dimensions, it becomes "like a game of Sudoku. You try to get everything to work in place. You sometimes have to give up something to get something, " Boone says.
The prototypes are an indispensable component of the process, as the testing reveals flaws and also opportunities. "Some companies don't do that. If you don't do one or two iterations, you'll end up with a compromised product. If it costs a couple of thousand for a prototype, it's worth it in the end," he says. "It’s almost like creating a work of art."
Ultimately, what makes Cecilia special, Boone says, is the craftsmanship and quality of materials. He sums the end product up as "Clean and classy" in its aesthetics. "It has to look good and not like a camera bag per se." Intrinsic to this is the safety aspect. "You need to feel like you're carrying something that doesn't scream 'I'm a photographer,'" a view also expressed by Photography Talk, who says a camera bag that doesn't look like one "reduces the risk of would-be thieves targeting you for your gear."
Carry your photo gear smartly, stylishly and safely!