What's in a Minimalist's Camera Bag
Minimalism and Photography aren't the easiest things to reconcile. The photography world is constantly trying to convince you that if you just get this lens, or this camera body, or this amazing new gadget, then your photography will finally be as amazing as you want it to be.
Meanwhile minimalism tells us that we already have enough, that more isn't better and to focus on "the joy of one" (as Joshua Becker calls it). Principles I have successfully applied to many areas of my life. However when it comes to applying minimalism to my photography I have chosen the road of most resistance.
But do you know what, whilst it has been longer and unnecessarily bumpier than if I had chosen the more commonly taken "road of least resistance" it has unsurprisingly brought me to the same destination. Turns out you don't need all the gear, every lens option under the sun, or all the accompanying shiny gadgets to go along with them.
Here is what is in my Minimalist camera bag...
Cameras and Lenses...
Nikon D750 - A full frame DSLR camera. A thing of beauty in my humble opinion. As a Wedding and Family photographer it was a necessary upgrade. I started out hiring it for my first wedding, but as the bookings kept rolling in a purchase made more sense. If I were still only pursuing photography for personal use and blog imagery I believe a crop sensor would be more than adequate.
Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens - An expensive piece of glass but since purchasing it I can count on one hand how many times I have taken it off my camera. I love it so very much and the images it helps me create are like a dream come true.
If I wasn't a professional photographer, then this blog post would probably end about here. I am a firm believer that it is the person behind the camera and not the gear they own that has the biggest influence on the end result. I could very happily survive on one camera and one lens for all of my personal photography needs. Maybe that is limiting myself, but I find it adds to the creative challenge, to make what I have in my hands work for me, rather than blaming a lack of gear on any shortcomings in my work. The Nikon d750 and Sigma 35mm F1.4 combo is my personal favourite and 99% of my work that you see on my website, blog and Instagram will have been taken with that combination.
But since I am a proffesional photographer, the list goes on...
Nikon 50mm F1.8 lens - This was my all time favourite lens, and the only thing that got any time on my camera when I was first starting out. It converted me to prime lenses and I have never looked back. It is a very affordable piece of kit, but the value of it, is in my opinion, priceless. I will tell anyone who will listen, that wants to improve their photography, to bin their kit lens, go buy this, and then thank me later. Since getting the Sigma it doesn't get as much use, but when I don't want to lug around the heaviest lens in the world (yes sorry Sigma that is your one and only fault) then this one gets dusted off. I take it to every session "just incase" but I'm far too lazy to stop and change lenses during a fast paced family session, and since I can crop anything I take with the 35mm without losing any quality it doesn't get much use these days.
I have contemplated passing it on, but at weddings it gets a lot of use on my crop sensor camera body, which makes it more of an 80-85mm lens so it's lovely for getting in a bit closer.
Nikon D3200 - This is my crop sensor DSLR camera that started me out on this wild photography ride almost 4 years ago now. It would be easy to be sentimental about it, but I would sell it in a heartbeat if I could. As a professional photographer knowing that I have a "back up" camera in my bag on sessions gives me a bit of peace of mind should my camera decide to stop working for whatever reason. These things do happen, so for now it's my back-up.
It also gets a lot of use at Weddings with my 50mm lens, as I mentioned above. And to have the two lenses to hand with no changing necessary is very valuable. Even if it does break my back carrying them both!
If I wasn't photographing weddings I would definitely sell the crop sensor. For most types of photography one camera is more than enough.
The Bag Itself...
I first came across this bag about a year and a half ago when I met a fellow photographer who was using it. I quickly fell in love but it was a tad out of my price range, so I soldiered on with a rucksack that was a bit too small and not really suited to being a camera bag. I didn't stop dreaming though and every time a competition would come up online to win a Home of Millican bag I was there. My perseverance finally paid off and I actually won it! I still can't quite believe my luck, but I definitely did a little happy dance when I found out.
A couple of months of use later and I can only say I was right to covet it for so long. It is exactly what I need in a camera bag and then some. It is so comfortable to carry, which when you are lugging around heavy gear for long days shooting weddings, is vital. It fits everything I could possibly need inside with room to spare, and there are so many little details to this bag that show how well thought out the design is, and I couldn't love it more.
I promise you they are not paying me to say this. I just really like the bag :)
I don't always take the following items to every shoot, and even more rarely when I'm just out doing personal photography, but I do own these accessories;
iPhone - I rarely use it to take photos these days but it has been a fun accessory to play with. If you lie it flat in front of your lens, screen facing upwards, it becomes a bit like a mirror, and can create reflections in your photo that wouldn't be there otherwise (as in the photo of my children on the beach at the start of this blog). Another fun trick when taking photos with the phone itself is to turn the phone upside down to take a photograph to give some forced perspective to a photo that is hard to achieve normally with a phone.
Tripod - mostly used when I want to get in the frame myself. I haven't explored long exposure that much yet, and thankfully have never had issues with camera shake when holding the camera myself. I also always use it for group photographs at weddings, I usually take a burst of 4-5 images for each group shot set-up and the tripod ensures the whole series is virtually the same, so you can do some simple face swapping in photoshop without anyone ever being able to tell.
Reflector - A useful tool for portraiture when the natural light needs a bit of help. It doesn't get much use to be honest, but when I do break it out it can be very valuable.
Lensbaby - technically a lens, but I'm calling it an accessory because for me it is purely for fun. I have the more basic lensbaby, called a "Lensbaby Spark" an affordable window into the world of tilt shift lenses but not of a high enough quality or with enough reliability to get a look in for my professional work. It rarely sees the light of day if I am honest and has only lasted this long as when I do remember to take it out it has given me some of my favourite images.
Blankets - No really. My amazing Home of Millican bag is perfect as I can usually fit all of my gear in and at least two blankets. They are invaluable on photo shoots. From being used to sit on, to providing a prop for snuggly couples or families. A good blanket can really make a photo.
A pretty strap - Ok, stop laughing, I am not kidding around. Are you really still wearing the strap that came with the camera? The one with the brand and model emblazoned across it? Seriously, why though? They are not nice to look at at all. Head on over to Etsy and find yourself a nice one. Trust me. It won't improve your photography one bit, but it will make you look a lot more professional.
I imagine for hobbyist photographers this may seem like a lot of gear still, and maybe conversely for professional photographers it seems a tad sparse. However, 99% of the time when I share a photo I have taken, whether it is personally or professionally, I have taken that photo with a Nikon d750 and the Sigma 35mm F1.4, and I would like to think that my body of work is testament enough to the notion that just one camera and one lens is indeed enough. And perhaps it is the person behind the gear that is the crucial factor in all of this. So please don't take this post as "what to buy next" inspiration. Instead take it as proof that one camera and one lens is in fact enough and take on the challenge to improve the skills of the person behind the gear. It is a much more affordable option in the long run!
*Shameless Self Promotion*
If you are in South Wales and want to come along to my Photography Workshop on the 20th January 2018 to help improve your photography then have a look here and come join us!
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