Photography with a 35mm camera used to be a relatively simple affair. Camera bodies seemed as steadfast and unchanging as your grandma's hairstyle, and there seemed little reason or need to constantly upgrade your equipment. Sure, there was always the latest and greatest camera innovation, but there wasn’t always a 'need' to change. Film choice had more of an impact, in my opinion, than did your actual camera equipment. One's personal artistic vision was more important than the actual camera used. Today, although these general tenets of photography and equipment still exist, gear does play an ever-increasing role of importance in the final output.
As photographers, we need our gear. Without it, we’re just people with highly visual imaginations and restless index fingers. However, the conundrum of all photographers is acquiring the right combination of equipment without blowing their budgets. In reality, there’s no “right” or “standard” selection of gear—everyone’s creative vision and needs are different. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, putting together a cost-effective kit that still offers you the freedom and flexibility to exercise your photography as you see fit, can be a real challenge.
To help you navigate this perpetual dance, let’s see how I built my camera bag over the years. Please note that these ideas do not represent the opinions and needs of the other 2,459,276,483 photographers out there, who will probably disagree with me.
A long time ago, I wrote an article entitled Bag of Confidence, and ever since, many have turned to me with their equipment questions. I would love to profess that I was smart enough to have just the right camera gear from the get go, but such is not the case. Like so many in the field, having the right camera gear was a trial-by-error methodology for much of the beginning of my photography career. I was asked to write this piece in the hope that you might learn from my mistakes, and build on my successes. So here’s how my camera bag has in it what it does today.
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