Talented photographer, yes….good camera and excellent lenses, yes… great photos? Maybe not.
This is a difficult one to get your head round at times, but I have never been out in the field and failed to be reminded of the ‘importance of the flow’, as I like to call it. This phrase, for me, describes the process of being able to control your equipment with such intuitiveness and efficiency that you can remain ‘in the zone’ with the minimum of disturbance. ‘The zone’ is a mental place that sportsmen, especially those involved in precision events like shooting or archery, know very well. For the photographer, it is the place where shutters fire when the photographer thinks it to fire, when lenses change without fumbling or awkward pauses in rapport building, or eye contact. It’s a place where photographs are seen that would otherwise have missed. As a result, how you carry and access your equipment at the right time and in the right way, can have a huge influence on the quality of photographs you produce.
When working in Afghanistan, shooting the very beginnings of Russians and Royals, I hit this problem in a kind of ‘brick wall’ kind of way. I was shooting in environments where being targeted by criminals was a problem, as was attracting the attention of corrupt police who might ‘confiscate’ my equipment. Then there were the child pickpockets… and clambering over rubble and climbing through window frames of destroyed buildings…taking shots standing up, lying down in filth, with time in hand…. then in a rush… and then sprinting down four flights of stairs and slipping quickly through busy streets and heaving markets. It wasn’t long before I realised that the greatest ‘technical’ impediment I was facing was not knowledge of my cameras or lenses, but my ability to manage them efficiently in the field.
I’d tried a variety of bags and found some downright infuriating, so set about sorting the problem out once and for all. After some research and a few mistakes, I settled on two bag types for almost everything I do that requires a bag. While these choices may not work for you – everyone’s needs are different – I will try to articulate why they do work for me. Maybe we’re similar, in which case you’ll make speedier progress than I did. To that end, I have written reports on two series of bags, both of which I highly recommend:
Lowepro Slingshot (coming soon)