I love packing my bag the night before a shoot. Sticking any batteries on charge, making sure my film is loaded (and spares are packed). Laying my lenses out before me like I am picking my starting eleven.
Firstly, I have 2 main bags and a couple of back ups. When I am going out to shoot in London I take my Billingham Hadley Pro that I managed to win for a decent price on the ‘bay. I prefer the satchel type bags to backpacks, as it feels more natural for me (although it is worse for your back and shoulders). The Billingham has space enough for 1 film camera with lens, 1 digital camera with lens, a spare lens, headphones, lens pen, and I don’t take one but it also has space for a tablet. The main reason I use the Billingham is that it is waterproof. And boy does it love to piss it down with rain in London! My other main camera bag is a canvas bag that holds just one camera with lens and a lens pen. Nice and simple, great for when I am generally going out with friends or family to different places. Randomly, this was a gift from an ex-girlfriends mother, whom probably has no idea I actually use it – if you are reading this I thank you kindly once again. I have two other cheapy backup bags- one is a rectangular, and the other is a round shoulder bag I used in Australia.
My main street camera for film is the Olympus OM-1 with a Zuiko 28mm F2 lens. This is the first thing I reach for when I hit the streets of London. Why do I choose this camera? And why not use a rangefinder? Firstly, I started out on DLSRs so moving over to SLRs was an easy decision. And although I like rangefinders, I gel with SLRs more for some reason. The reason I choose the Olympus OM-1, other than the fact it is really compact and beautifully designed, is that this is the model of camera my grandfather used. I never met my grandfather, so it is my indirect way of reaching across time and giving him a high five. A fist bump. Homage to someone I wasn’t lucky enough to know in person.
The OM-1 and the Zuiko 28mm F2 are my favourite combination of film camera and lens ever. The 28mm focal length is wide enough for me to be satisfied (I have a thing for wider lenses), but also allows you to focus on your subject, and can also allow you to get more of the environment in the shot. The images produced from this lens are fantastic. In fact, I have yet to find a vintage Zuiko OM lens to match it- and I’ve got a whole bunch of them. I tend to also keep the 24mm F2.8 as my back up lens for this camera. You never know when you are going to need a wider lens ;). My backup film camera is the Olympus OM-2.
My main digital camera at the moment is the Fujifilm X-T1. Before I started using the Fuji, I was shooting Nikon. The X-T1 is another beautiful camera. Stunning to look at, and designed for the vintage lovers, this little beast is perfect for street shooting. I shoot the exposure triangle fully manual, but this camera can do automatic for anyone that enjoys shooting that way. I find the X-T1 is small enough that most people don’t make a big deal like they would with a honking great big Nikon or Canon DLSR and lens combination. It is also handy when shooting low, as the LCD screen slides out allowing you to look down into it.
Which lens do I use with the X-T1? My main lens for use with the X-T1 is the Fujinon 35mm R F2 WR. Well that was a mouthful… This lens is about 50mm equivalent on the Fuji’s APS-C sensor. When I first started shooting street photography I was doing it more regularly with a 50mm lens. This lens is tiny. I mean it is dinky! It also renders fantastically well. It has proven itself time an again for me, and having the option for F2 has actually come in handy.
The other important items in my bag, although less interesting, are my lens pen and lens cleaning cloth. Both essential. When I first started shooting I kept making the mistake of not having either with me when out shooting. Now they are the first thing I make sure are in the bag.
Headphones are another important item for me. Music is such a big part of my life, and when travelling music is my most faithful companion. It can both inspire and bring me back down to earth. It can ground me in crowded uncomfortable situations like horribly packed trains and other public transport. At the moment I am sporting a used pair of Bower & Wilkins P5’s. All battered up from me overly using them, but they are well constructed (metal frame, replaceable magnetic pads, and replaceable cable). I wear these things in all conditions, and the work perfectly fine in the rain.
Water is something else I always carry with me. It is very easy to get dehydrated out there on the streets. It is important to make sure you are topped up so you can be on top of your photography game.
What is in your bag? Until next time Street togs, have a good one!