My first camera bag was a cumbersome tan and black contraption with bulky straps and clips and zippers. It was far from pretty and screamed “touristy lady with a camera over here” regardless of where I was taking photographs. It was a bit embarrassing.
But that was twenty years ago; camera bags have come a long way and there are great (totally stylish) options available!
Form Meets Function
Camera bags do not have to look anything like that awful bag I carried twenty years ago. Now there are bags available that are both beautiful and functional. These are the kind of bags that make you want to carry your camera with you all the time—which you should. Not only do they hold your gear, they also have room for your purse essentials. You don’t need to lug around more than one bag anymore.
Epiphanie. I covet these beauties. Every option is gorgeous and there is absolutely nothing about them that screams “I have an expensive camera in this bag”. Most passersby would think you were carrying nothing more than your purse. I love that they don’t look out of place if I’m in jeans and a tee shirt or in a little black dress.
Emera. I think the circle print tote is modern and chic and look more like a fashionable accessory than a bulky camera bag. I wish there were options like this when I was in college. There are seven padded compartments inside for stashing all of your stuff—think iPad and power cords for quick on location viewing instead of using the viewfinder on your camera. It even has little feet to protect the bottom of your bag. Emera Camera Bags on Amazon.com
Pack It Up
If you find yourself coming back from an afternoon of taking pictures with dirt under your nails and grass stained knees, maybe a pretty shoulder bag isn’t exactly what you want. For those types of days I like the backpack style of camera bag. I can pack up my gear along with a few odds and ends—id, keys, cash—and toss it onto my back. From there I can bike, hike, or just meander around knowing my equipment is safe.
Lowepro Flipside Sport. What I really like about this bag is the fact that the zipper is on the inside of the pack. If you are wearing it on your back you don’t have to worry about anyone behind you having easy access to your things. If you are wearing it as a front pack you can open up the pack without having to remove it from your body. Lowepro Camera Bags on Amazon.com
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
Messenger bags are great options when you need to carry lots of digital gear. On the days I leave the house work I carry no less than three big bags—my oversized purse, my breast pump stuff, and my laptop bag. I feel like a sherpa hoisting bag after bag onto my shoulder. It is really quite ridiculous. And while I cannot stuff my breast pump into a smaller bag, I could get the rest of my things—including my camera and an extra lens or two—into one of these great messenger bags.
Tenba Messenger. Available in three sizes and seven different colors—I really like the burnt orange and the blue—these bags messenger bags are super versatile. The largest will hold up to a 17″ laptop with room to spare. For discreet access to the bags contents there is a zipper on top that allows access to the main interior. Nice when you don’t want everybody around you checking out the contents of your bag. Tenba Camera Bags on Amazon.com
Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Messenger. The very subtle curves of this bag are a nice contrast to the more traditional messenger bag. The inside is bright so you can see your gear and adjustable for customizing the interior space. On the bottom of the bag there are adjustable straps if you want to tote along your tripod. Timbuk2 Camera Bags on Amazon.com
These are just a handful of the great bags available today. Long gone are the days of ugly bulky manly camera bags. Whatever your personal style may be, there are now camera bags available to fit your uniqueness. Stylish, functional, and most importantly a place for you to keep your gear handy and secure.
Holly teaches design at a small NW Ohio college. She spends her days off hanging out with her foxy musician husband and their gorgeous new baby and ridiculously smart pre-school aged son. Holly has a passion for food, photography, beautiful letter forms, and the possibilities that can be found in a single sheet of well made paper. You can read more from Holly on her blog, Artist Mother Teacher.
image credits: epiphaniebags, emerabags, lowepro, tenba, timbuk2