The 2 most important things to have in your camera bag

Indigenous in Chiapilla

Indigenous in Chiapilla Mexico

There is a multitude of articles out there about 10 and 20 and 30 most important things you should have in your camera bag. They are for the most part all wrong. Even though you can stick to maybe 10 things in your bag and no more, that bag is still to cluttered.

When traveling you can fill your camera bag with all kinds of stuff and probably need a long list of what not to take with you and what to take with you, and how ever much you take with you you will always feel that you left something important at home. Therefor mastering the art of cutting down is a necessary discipline. When not traveling it is a must. You want to be thinking about the shooting not where you put things.

There is one thing you should throw out first. It is the big bag of filters and accessories. Unless you are going out to shoot some landscape you have no use for all those filters. And even though you are going out to shoot some landscape you don’t need most or any of the filters except maybe Graduated Neutral Density Filter Set and Circular Polarizer Filter. Rest you can do in your software be it Photoshop or Lightroom or what.  No it is not cheating using software. Its called creative artistic procedure. You are not making images to cater to some silly guidelines. You are creating your expression and your art. So do it how ever you like. Its the outcome that matters not how you got there. Believe me people don’t care.

Next thing out should be the tripod. Yes tripods are good. Especially when you are doing landscape and architecture and its good to have in the studio. Unless you are going out to do night scenes you don’t need the special Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod, it will only give you headache after weighing down your bag to almost unbearable wheight. If you think you might absolutely need a tripod, get a gorilla pod or something similar or better yet, cut down on your coffe and redbull drinking so you will have a steady hand to use at 1/15 if needed

Speedlight is big bulky and takes up a lot of space and all the extra attachments fill every other pocket in your bag. As if that is not enough you have to drag a power plant with you to keep it running . You have never enough of batteries for your flashgun. Battery pack for the flash gun is also big bulky and heavy. It is the image you want ot be thinking of not all the settings on the flashgun. Before you have set up the flashgun the moment is gone. If you are not a press photographer or flash a special part of your photographic style then forget it. It always gets in the way of your cap and makes the camera hard to handle. Throw it out.

One thing I have not mentioned is the library you are carrying. All those photography cheat sheets and guides that you have been gathering from different sites. They sure do look nice with their fancy layout but you do not need to have them with you. You should know them by heart before you go. Study them. Learn them. memorize them and then leave them alone until you start looking at your pictures to figure out what you did wrong. Its the best way to learn by doing. 

Now there is not much left in your bag is there. Still there are couple of things to figure out. One of the most important thing is th forrest of lenses. That forrest needs to be chopped down to a tree or two. My favorite is just one.

If you are going out to shoot you do not need 5 different lenses. Many will argue that 16mm - 35mm or similar 24mm - 70mm and 70mm - 200mm are a must and then of course a 50mm and a 35mm and maybe a TS lens. Now of course I am talking full frame format camera. Not point and shoot.

If I don’t know what I am doing and just going out for a walk or a trip to town my choice of lens is simple. My favorite one is the 24mm - 70mm f. 2.8 for my Canon camera. It has been with me for a long time now and never stops to impress me even though I do admit its not the sharpest in the corners. But Its not sharpnes analism I am after. I am after getting images. Capturing the moment. I know my camera and lens combination by heart and can therefor work very fast with it. So that would be my choice if I took only one lens and this Canon camera combination. My zoom is my feet. I like to get up close and personal.

There is one other way to simplify things and that is to take a Fuji XT camera with a lens or the Fuji X100T camera and nothing else. Sony Alpha a7ll is a good alternative to. Hell if you do that you are down to the bare minimum and do not even need a camera bag do you. You have the camera on your shoulder and you are as free as the bird or almost. There are the two most important things left to mention.

Nr.1 of the two most important things is the memory card. You need extra memory cards. You never know what happens and when the time comes you want to be sure that you get the picture. There are multitudes of memory cards in all range of giga bites. My advise is to not take the biggest. Take an intermediate on and do not leave all your eggs in one basket. If something happens to one of the cards, and it will,  you have other cards with you and at the end of the day you come home with images. At least some, even though the best image is on the card that is now defunct.

Nr. 2 of the most important thing to carry with you is extra set of batteries. You never know how the battery in the camera is holding up to the charging and you never know how fully it was charged. It can fail and usually does so at the worst of moment. Your little trip to town might end up in a heap of opportunities and then the absolutely worst that can happen is you running out of camera batteries. Nothing makes you feel more stupid than that.

There you have it. Basically you do not need a camera bag. You need a camera with one lens attached. You need memory cards and you can have them in a fish leather cardholder like the Fish and chip one, and which you can have in your pocket and then you need extra set of batteries and depending on the type of camera you have it can fit in one of your pockets or you can have me make you a special belt pouch to carry it in.

One last thing. You do want to have a cleaning cloth, your shirt is not the best to use when cleaning the lens.

That's it. Now go get some fantastic images feeling light and free. 

P.s On a day trip on a horseback in Mexico I took with me 1 camera. 1 lens. 4 cards and a extra battery when I got this image. With full bag of things and the camera not on my shoulder I would never have snapped that picture. 

Kristjan Logason is an Icelandic photographer based in Norway at the moment, where he mainly works in fine art and commercial fine art photography.Kristjan owns and runs The art of Icelandic photography.You can contact Krissby phone: +47.916.62749