I always wanted to write a “what’s in my bag” post and I thought I would do it during the pandemic restrictions, but I ended up busy with other things.

A little update

During this time, since my last post, I filmed more and more photography tutorials as a way to stay busy and have at least some income – and also because it was something I always wanted to do and never got around to do it. I also used this quiet time to start looking closely at my expenses and see what could go away.

One of the things I did, and took a lot of hard work and smoke coming out of my ears to figure it out, was to save costs on web hosting. I have an old website in Brazil that needs to run in a very specific system and lots of photography websites (this blog, my learning platform and events site, all my photography sites and some for some friends) that need a separate system to run on.

Altogether I was spending around A$250/month in hosting.

A really good friend of mine found me a free server and I decided to run everything from home, so I changed my Internet plan to a small business one (A$20/month more than what I was paying) and in a few weeks I had this crazy project up and running. I’m not going into details as it’s really nerdy tech stuff, but yeah, A$230/month savings!

Well, this was just a little update on things. Also my clients are coming back, I already managed to run a workshop after restrictions easing in QLD and I’m looking forward to our next Photowalk, which will be announced when more restrictions are eased.

I also took the time to send my A7R III to get repaired, the shutter button was playing up and it felt like a good time to send it away.

So what’s in my bag?

One of the reasons it took me so long to do this is because my bag changes depending on what I’m going to do: shoots for a client in a studio other than mine means I can carry 4 different bags; an outdoors shoot will have one bag; some times I have two; and the main bag changes for every single type of job.

Main bag

My main bag is a Peak Design “the everyday backpack” 30L. This is the one I carry with me all the time and what’s in it changes from job to job.

I’ll start with a few little things that are ALWAYS in the bag and most are not even photography related.

  • Eyelead Sensor Cleaning Kit: this German tool is the one I use to clean my sensor. Mirrorless cameras are great but that means you get dust on your sensor more easily so this tool is a must have in my bag. Although when shooting outdoors with fast lenses wide open a dusty sensor is not a problem, in studio it is. I don’t only shoot in my studio but also in three other different ones. Last thing I want is to have to remove dusty spots from my photos when shooting at f/8. Full disclosure: the first few times you use this tool you’re gonna be very nervous as it sticks to the sensor and you have to pull it back, but that’s the way it works.
  • Lenspen: I use the Lenspen to clean my lenses and viewfinder, very handy tool and it’s carrying bag is also a lens cloth.
  • Blower: also a cleaning tool. Be careful when using these things, make sure you blow away from your camera or lens a few times to make sure there’s not rubber moving around inside that could end up on your sensor or glass.
  • Wristbands, lens cleaning cloth (actually two of them), a film roll case to use as a tiny rubbish bin, a small garbage bag and a face mask: I wear a wristband when shooting, especially in Summer, because I have big thick eyebrows and I sweat a bit there and don’t want sweat hitting my eyes. The cleaning cloth is always useful for lenses and my glasses.
  • Spare Sony battery (some times two of them), AA batteries always charged, USB charger, micro USB cable, 4 USB3 to USB-C adapter (you know, Apple computers…), Square card reader with swipe adapter for smartphones and a headphone jack to Lightning adapter (you know, Apple phones…).
  • Box of business cards, promotional wristbands with my website printed on them, little clips, spare tripod plate, Blackrapid strap mount, USB3 cable for hard drives and a 5 cents coin: I don’t really give away business cards these days but always handy when considering my name can be difficult to remember for Australians. Clips of every shape and size are always useful. USB3 cable is there in case I’m carrying an external drive to backup as I shoot. The 5 cents coin is to help tighten the tripod plate on the camera when needed.
  • SD card waterproof and shockproof carrying case, Colour checker, a special eye piece for really bright days shooting outdoors, an universal strobe radio trigger in case my good ones fail, spare button batteries for that trigger.
  • Lint roller.
  • Cheap pen (don’t carry expensive ones with you, they get lost), toothbrush and paste.
  • Eye drops and Panadol.

Camera.

Becoming a Photographer - Part 11 - What's in my bag (and a little life update)

I have two Sony Alpha cameras: A7 III and A7R III. Depending on the job, I’ll carry one or the other in my main bag. I only own one battery grip so I swap that (and a Tethertools jerkstopper and the memory cards) usually the day before the shoot. I mainly use my A7 III, the A7R III is usually my backup and it only really gets used as the main camera when I’m shooting commercial jobs or if the A7 III is filming a tutorial – or if I really want all that resolution.

Lenses

The lens attached to the camera in the above photo is my Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM and that’s my main lens. Pretty much all my work at the agency is done with that lens, only some times my 55mm comes out at the agency. If I can only pick one lens to go somewhere, the 85mm is the one. Although it has a very slow autofocus, it’s the focal length I’m most comfortable with and I know exactly how close or how far I need to be from my subject to get the composition I want. It’s kinda part of my body. When shooting e-commerce it’s usually the 55mm that stays on the camera.

My other lenses are:

  • Sony 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss: my second most used lens. It usually comes out when I don’t have enough room to get a full length body shot with the 85mm, for example. Always in my bag.
  • Sony 28mm f/2: used mainly for filming tutorials because I don’t love this lens. It’s too wide angle and I find it very soft.
  • Sigma 135mm f/1.8 ART: my favourite ever lens. It only makes it into my bag when I’m shooting outdoors. If I’m in my studio I can only get headshots with this lens so I do use it, but I don’t take it to other studios as it’s not needed.
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART: I had the Canon version and used it on my Sony with a Metabones adapter, but eventually sold it as I didn’t shoot much with 35mm and it couldn’t autofocus for video with the adapter. I then bought the Sony 28mm to have a cheap wide angle, just in case, but didn’t like it for stills, so a few weeks ago I finally got the Sigma 35mm again, but for Sony mount this time. Also makes it to my bag if I’m shooting outdoors, especially if I intend to shoot fashion.
  • Sony 70-200 f/4 G: this lens lives in my backup bag, which I’ll show you later. It never gets used unless: the 85mm needs repair – or: I’m taking photos of Helga (my dog) outdoors, because she’s too fast for something like the 85mm or the 135mm to keep up.

I also have some vintage lenses that only get used if I’m feeling artistic or just feeling like doing something fun.

Becoming a Photographer - Part 11 - What's in my bag (and a little life update)
  • Hanimar 135mm f/2.8 (Japan): given to me by my friend Will, it has an amazing character.
  • Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 (Russia): also a gift from Will, it’s a very weird lens to use and also has it’s own character.
  • Metabones adapter: I don’t have any Canon mount glass anymore (apart from a 50mm f/1.8 for my film camera) but I kept this adapter just in case. You never know when you might need to adapt a lens you don’t have, like a macro for example.
  • Praktica 50mm f/1.8: just an old nifty fifty I found in a thrift shop for $20. I haven’t tried it yet.

Some photos taken with the Hanimar and Helios:

Other things that are some times in the bag

  • Macbook and charger: when I’m shooting in someone else’s studio, I take the Macbook (not in the photo) to tether so I also carry a charger. I have a spare charger so I don’t have to keep unplugging it from the wall.
  • iPad Air 2 (not in the photo) with charger and a 3m long cable: also in case I’m tethering in a studio other than mine. If I’m at the agency, it stays at the makeup artists table so she can see the photos live and this way she always knows if she needs to run to the rescue and fix anything with the makeup or hair. When I’m shooting commercially, the clients can see the photos live and even rate them on the go. I’ll have a tutorial about this in a couple of weeks, with Annaliese.
  • Godox trigger and receiver: also when I’m shooting in another studio.
  • Small LED lights with accessories: I love shooting with LED lights outdoors at night instead of speedlites, so if that’s the case I carry a new Phottix RGB M200R, Phottix M180 and some times a small Lumecube. The Phottix panels are amazing, powerful, lightweight and can even be used as a battery pack for my phone. Some times I might carry a Rotolight Neo (version 1, not in the photo) but lately I’ve been preferring the small Phottix lights.
  • Also not in the photo is my Tethertools USB-C cable for tethering.
  • Cleaning cloth and hand sanitiser: these are usually in my pocket rather than my bag. Yes I already carried hand sanitiser before the pandemic.

Backup bag

My backup bag is a Peak Design messenger shoulder bag. It comes with me when I’m shooting for a client and the location is over 15 minutes drive from my studio, or if they are also paying for a model’s time and if something breaks down, waiting 30 minutes for me to go to the studio to pick equipment up would cost them money.

  • Sony A7R III or Sony A7 III: depending on which one is my main camera, the other one goes in this bag.
  • Sony 70-200mm f/4 G: this lens is there in case my others break. It’s a versatile lens for my studio work.
  • Tripod L bracket, spare Godox trigger and receiver, spare Tethertools USB3 to USB-C cable.

The big bag

This rollerbag (LowePro or ThinkTank, not sure) carries my two main lights, lots of power chords, gaffer tape and other tapes, a Godox speedlite (as a backup), lots of clamps. There’s also a tie there (and I used to also have a belt) just in case the talent I’m shooting at the agency forgets to bring it and it’s needed. Some times I throw in there another lint roller or any other bits and pieces I might need.

Things not in the photos

There are some other things I carry with me depending on the job, like the Macbook and iPad that I mentioned before, light stands, softboxes, tripods, a third studio light in a smaller bag – again for jobs that are far away from my studio – a Blackrapid Sport shoulder strap when I’m running workshops or photowalks, one or two film cameras (Canon EOS 500 with 50mm f/1.8 or Nikon FM with 50mm f/1.8) with rolls of film, an external drive to backup photos on the go when tethering, microphones if I’m out recording a tutorial and so on. Also always two bottles of water.

Conclusion

My camera bag changes from job to job, but I think I managed to cover most of it. I’ll update this post if I remember something that’s worth mentioning.

You also probably noticed most things are labeled with my name and phone number (some also have my email address). This is in case I misplace something and someone with a good soul finds it so they can easily contact me. Making it easy for someone to return your stuff will give you higher chances of that actually happening.

Latest photos

Now I’ll leave you with some of my work done since my last post. I hope you enjoy!

Don’t forget to go check out my tutorials as some of these photos were taken while filming them! And remember profits from tutorials are split with the models so you’re also supporting them!