In Search Of The Perfect Wedding Photography Bag

PRODUCT REVIEW

PRODUCT REVIEW

In Search of the Perfect Wedding Photography Bag

Is there such a thing as the perfect wedding photography bag? In over two decades in the industry, I’ve certainly given this much thought, and despite being relatively devoted to the quest, I have yet to find one that is my version of perfect.

Like Goldilocks trying out the beds only to find that they are either too big or too small, I am also a little frustrated from the effort of trying to find The Ideal One.

the perfect wedding photography bag

Is This The Perfect Wedding Photography Bag?

Currently, I am sitting at a desk with an embarrassing amount of camera bags under it. I have the hipster one – I know it’s hipster as there are no vowels in the name; I have the basic, no-frills one from the giant online retailer; I have a classic old-school leather satchel bought on a trip to New York; I have bags designed by mountaineering companies; bags that fit ‘under the seat in front of you’, and smaller bags for smaller jobs.

However, mostly I take out the same bag that I’ve used for 17 years. What I like best about it is that although it’s a top-loading shoulder bag, it also fits inside a roller bag so I don’t have to carry it on my way to work, then I usually abandon the case when I arrive and walk around with just the shoulder bag. It’s not ideal as the bag gets heavy so I often abandon that too. Not the safest option but I also do not want to have back or neck problems.

Is this too much to ask from the perfect wedding photography bag?

  • Accommodate a substantial amount of equipment without being overly bulky.
  • Offer durability and resilience without weighing a lot.
  • Organize gear efficiently, ensuring quick and easy access.
  • Feature wheels for effortless transport, sparing my shoulders.
  • Include compartments for personal items and a water bottle (always stay hydrated!).
  • Securely store memory cards.
  • Provide a locking mechanism for added security.
  • Not resemble a traditional camera bag.

Wedding photographers potentially carry more kit than most other genres of photographers as we cover so many different situations on a typical wedding day. For me, this means a mixture of Prime and Zoom lenses. Primes for when I can move and Zooms for when I can’t so much. I also need to double up on bodies so that I have backup plus flash so I can bring light to anywhere it’s needed. Add in spare batteries, memory cards, a few personal items and chargers, it’s a lot to be expected to lug around for a long day.

You can see why bags mean so much to wedding photographers. They also need to help a girl out when she has to grab something out of it in a hurry. Weddings are fast-paced and there’s not much chance to pause the action while you swap to the ideal lens or replace a battery.

Not wanting to add to my under-desk collection of not-quite-suitable bags but also needing to replace my 17-year-old one which is finally wearing out, I decided to go in person to try some bags on for size. I headed to a camera retailer near Oxford Street thinking that I’d be spoilt for choice only to find that they had a very limited selection but I could ‘order online for delivery to the store’. Disappointing.

My next bright idea was asking Terry if he had any contacts in this area and it turns out he is matey with the folks over at Snapper Stuff – the official UK importer for ThinkTank who specialise in bags with wheels. I asked for three to test drive – Essentials Rolling Convertible Backpack, Airport TakeOff v2, and the Airport Navigator.

The Perfect Wedding Photography Bag

Trialling three bags by think tank in search of the perfect wedding photography bag

The first two were backpacks equipped with wheels and handles. While commendable in design, backpack camera bags pose an issue I find challenging – accessibility. Retrieving gear from these bags necessitates taking them off, laying them down, and unzipping them, a multi-step process I consider impractical, especially during fast-paced weddings. Additionally, the bulkiness of a backpack makes me feel like a Ninja Turtle, which my husband thinks would be ‘cool’, but I beg to differ.

That left me with the Airport Navigator which sounds like a person who helps you locate the Pret A Manger at Gatwick. The makers say it is “perfect for photographers on the go and working out of the bag. Providing both top and front zippered openings for rapid, unobstructed access to gear, it appeals to wedding, event and travel photographers.”

“THIS IS AN APPEALING BAG FOR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS, WHETHER YOU NAVIGATE AIRPORTS OR TRAIN STATIONS ON THE REGULAR.”

Now this isn’t a recent model, it seems to have been around for a decade – I’m not the person to follow if you want the very latest product reviews but maybe if something is a well-designed classic, it doesn’t need to be rehashed. I packed it up and set off to a wedding in London.

It passed the first test which was fitting under the seat of a packed train and a last-minute decision to throw in my laptop as it has a well-padded pocket for one was very welcome on my much-delayed return journey. The wheels are great on a ThinkTank, they must be engineered to ensure smooth motion which makes the case feel lighter than it is. The top handle is very soft so even when you have to pick it up to navigate stairs, it is easy to manage.

The top access is ideal and they have thought about times when you would prefer to have the lid fully open which you can do by sliding the pull handle through the grab handle. Once I removed my cameras, I reconfigured the main body of the bag to have my three most important lenses and my flashgun at the top, ready to grab.

The appearance of the Airport Navigator is nicely innocuous, it looks like a chunky briefcase or small travel case rather than screaming ‘This is full of cameras!’ which felt safer for public transport and the streets of our capital. There is no option other than black but in my experience, when more consideration is given to the outside of a camera bag than the inside, it’s probably not going to be that practical.

IS THIS THE BEST WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER BAG?

After putting it fully through its paces, I would agree with them – the Airport Navigator is an appealing bag for wedding photographers, whether you navigate airports or train stations on the regular. Consideration has been given to the way that wedding photographers operate and what we need from a bag.

Like anything that’s well designed and made with quality materials, this is an inexpensive investment at an RRP of £320. However, if I get another 17 years out of it that works out to less than £19 per year which feels like excellent value.

the perfect wedding photography bag

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In Search Of The Perfect Wedding Photography Bag

Is there such a thing as the perfect wedding photography bag? In over two decades in the industry, I’ve certainly given this much thought, and despite being relatively devoted to the quest, I have yet to find one that is my version of perfect.

Like Goldilocks trying out the beds only to find that they are either too big or too small, I am also a little frustrated from the effort of trying to find The Ideal One.