How Do Photographers Carry Their Gear?
Once you start accumulating more and more camera gear, you’re left wondering how in the world you’re supposed to carry it all. People love to talk about the best new gear, but not as many share ideas on carrying all that equipment. There are many different ways that photographers carry their camera gear, but the right one for you depends on how you shoot. In this article, you’ll learn the different options you have for carrying camera gear to help you decide which is the most efficient for you.
Photographers carry their camera equipment in a variety of ways, depending on what they’re photographing. The most common way to carry gear is in a dedicated camera bag or with a neck strap. A camera bag allows you to carry your camera body and lenses safely in dedicated compartments everywhere you go. When it comes time to shoot, you can then securely carry your camera around your neck using a neck strap.
Although these are the most common options, there are some other ones out there as well. Let’s dive into the alternative options for carrying camera gear and discuss each’s pros and cons.
5 Ways To Carry Your Photography Equipment
1. Camera Neck Straps
The most common way that photographers carry their camera is with the neck strap. These straps often come with the camera when you buy it, but you can find third-party options with further upgrades. Neck straps are great for keeping your camera accessible without having to have it in your hands at all times. The vast majority of photographers use the neck strap while shooting to easily transition between holding the camera and keeping their hands free.
Neck-straps only work to carry a camera body and the attached lens. Some very large zoom lenses come with neck-straps; however, they’re exceedingly uncommon. Since neck straps typically only work to carry around your camera when you take photos, they don’t provide a solution for carrying additional equipment.
However, as a cheap way of carrying around your camera, using a camera strap is one of your best options.
2. Camera Holsters
Camera holsters offer an upgrade to the standard neck strap by mounting your camera in a more comfortable location. Rather than putting weight on your neck all day, you can mount your camera on your hip, chest, or backpack strap with a holster.
One of the most popular camera strap holsters is the Peak Design Capture Clip. This holster mounts directly to any backpack strap so you can securely mount your camera anywhere you go. I love using holsters for activities such as hiking or skiing since I can have my camera out without it swinging around on my neck.
Alternatively, many event photographers prefer using hip-holsters since they can securely mount multiple cameras straight off their belts. Kind of like a wild west cowboy, you’ll have your camera ready for a quickdraw. With some camera holsters, you can even mount lenses as well. That way, you can have your camera on one side and your second lens on the other.
With camera holsters, photographers can keep their cameras at quick access without hurting your neck. These are another great option for carrying around your camera but aren’t a solution for carrying all of your gear at once.
3. Camera Bag
A camera bag is an ultimate solution for carrying camera gear. Unlike a regular backpack, camera bags have dedicated slots to fit your lenses, cameras, filters, flashes, and whatever else you need. Since everything is securely stored between dividers, your equipment stays safe while you’re moving around.
The advantage of using a camera bag is you can carry a lot of equipment with relative ease. Most of the backpacks are quite comfortable, with ample back support and additional pockets for everyday items. When it comes time to shoot, you simply pop open your bag and grab the gear you need. Having the option to carry it around with you while you’re shooting is another helpful advantage.
Besides camera backpacks, there are also hip bags as well. Rather than wearing these over your shoulders, they sling around your neck and hang near the hip. Many photographers prefer carrying their gear in hip bags since they can be slightly more fashionable and low-profile. Often you’ll see wedding photographers or family portrait photographers using these types of bags.
There are a ton of different camera bags out there, all with different styles. I have always loved using camera backpacks since they give me the most room, and I can take them anywhere. However, if you like to keep a low profile and don’t need a ton of gear with you, a hip bag can be a good option too.
4. A Hard Case
Hard cases are like a suitcase with dividers inside to store your camera bodies, lenses, and all the rest. These aren’t as portable but work well if you often shoot in a singular location, like a studio. They also provide a great option for home storage, rather than keeping everything in your camera bags.
There are a couple of different types of hard cases. The first has foam inserts, while the second uses dividers. Both options are useful, but dividers are easier to adjust and move around. Especially as you get new camera gear, it’s a pain in the butt to have laser-cut foam inserts that only fits select pieces of equipment. A hard case I love is called the Think Tank iSeries Case. It fits a ton of gear, and the dividers are easy to move around using built-in velcro strips.
Hard cases are best for photographers who have a lot of extra gear that doesn’t fit in one camera bag. Since they cost a good chunk of change, it’s best only to use this method if you’re running out of space in your bags.
5. Wrist Straps
The final way photographers carry their camera is with a wrist strap. Some versions of these straps mount to the neck strap loops on the body, while others sinch around the lens barrel. Both options provide a secure way to hold your camera without it ever leaving your hands. If you don’t like carrying a bag or feeling the weight of a camera around your neck, wrist straps are a great option.
When you’re using a wrist strap, you’re essentially holding your camera everywhere you go. This isn’t the best if you need to go hands-free, but it works well if you don’t like dealing with additional gear. For casual shooting, a wrist strap is an effective way to carry around your camera without all the extra weight of a bag.
How To Carry Your Camera Without A Bag
The most effective way to carry your camera without a bag is with a camera holster or a neck strap. A camera holster can strap to your chest or provide mounting options from the hip. This way, you can securely carry your camera without ever putting it into a bag. Alternatively, a neck strap is another great option since you can be hands-free while still having quick access to your camera for shooting.
Every photographer will have different preferences with this. It ultimately will depend on the types of photos you shoot. For example, a wildlife photographer using a long heavy lens, likely won’t find comfort hanging their camera from the neck. Instead, a chest-mounted camera holster is a better option since it holds the camera more comfortably, without needing a bag.
However, someone like a portrait photographer may prefer a neck strap over a holster. With a neck strap, your camera can be freely taken on and off without leaving a holster attached to you. While you’re walking around a park taking photos, it can be a little more low-profile and far more comfortable.
How To Carry Heavy Camera Equipment
The best way to carry heavy camera equipment is with a camera backpack or a hard case. A backpack allows you to carry heavier gear with you anywhere you go. If you frequently change locations while shooting, a camera backpack is the most efficient option. Meanwhile, a hard case is best if you’re shooting in one location, such as a studio. Since you can wheel it around, it takes the strain off your body when bringing heavy camera equipment with you.
I’ve always been a fan of camera backpacks since they’re so versatile. You can easily carry 40lbs+ of equipment and still go through rough terrain. Rather than being limited to where you can wheel your hard case, a camera backpack offers more functionality.
With that said, carrying a lot of heavy camera equipment on your back can take a toll. If you’re not up for that, a hard case is a perfect alternative option. As I mentioned before, these cases are like a suitcase. With a carrying handle and wheels, you can roll it around from point A to B as easily as pushing a shopping cart. This way, you never actually put any of the weight on your body, giving a much-needed break in some instances.
Both options have their pros and cons. The right one to choose ultimately depends on your body. If you feel like you can carry a heavier bag around during your shoot, then a camera backpack is a more versatile solution. However, if you’re sticking in the city or inside a studio, using a hard case can be a more comfortable option.
How Should You Carry Your Camera And Photography Equipment?
So the big question remaining is what should you do to carry your photography equipment. There are many solutions out there, but it comes down to the photographer’s preferences. However, if you’re totally stuck and need a direct answer, I suggest a camera backpack and a neckstrap.
But here’s why.
A camera backpack is the best option for storing all your gear in one place. For most photographers, you won’t own more camera bodies or lenses than what can fit in your bag. It’s only once you’re professionally shooting or begin to take photography more seriously that your equipment stockpile adds up. A camera backpack allows you to carry your gear anywhere you go while offering a safe place to store equipment at home.
As for carrying your camera while you’re shooting, a neck strap is the easiest and most cost-effective option. Since you likely already have one with your camera, it’s completely free in most cases. By keeping your camera slung around your neck, you always have access to it without the worry of dropping it.
By having your camera backpack on and your camera slung around your neck, you’re set up for anything. All your gear is close by in your bag while your camera is out and ready for action.
Before settling on one carrying solution or another, first, consider your needs as a photographer. What gear do you like keeping with you? What could you leave at home? How long will you be taking photos? All of these questions will help you decide what type of option you go with. If you aren’t sure, you can always experiment with different ones and see which feels most natural!
– Brendan 🙂