It’s not easy finding a camera bag that suits you. It’s like finding the perfect pair of shoes. Buy ones that don’t fit and you forever curse yourself and wish you hadn’t whilst hobbling along after a night out, wishing you could just take them off and throw them in the trash, not caring that they cost you a second mortgage on your house. Buy the right pair and your feet will be thanking you all the way and you’ll be saving a lot of money avoiding the chiropractor later in life. Camera bags are kind of the same. They’re usually big, they’re expensive and they’re heavy and bulky… and let’s not forget… kinda ugly. So when I went on a quest to find the perfect camera bag for myself I started looking where every female snapper looks, Kelly Moore, Jill-e… but nothing I looked at seemed to be a fit for me.
A few colleagues of mine have Kelly Moore bags and had commented that while they were great, they started to fall apart, and given that I wanted pink, I wasn’t going to choose a bag that wasn’t what it claimed to be in colour, nor did I want a black handbag.
I’ve had many camera bags in my career, a Canon bag – small and black, a Lowepro backpack that could take camera, stuff and laptop, but it was too big for my body and too wide for my back so the backs of my arms would scrape raw against the straps. I’ve had a Lowepro Compact AW, which is the bag I’ve been using up until now, but it can’t take a laptop (which is a no go when travelling) and it’s so darn square and bulky that sometimes airport security pull me out of line for one of those special ‘random drug test’ searches! I’ve convinced myself that a 5’6″ blonde chick carrying such a hefty man bag just doesn’t look right, which of course, turns me into a gun weilding drug addict in airports… I can’t blame them, really. I hate the damn thing… it’s so square that I can’t even wear it across my body… if I do I end up smacking grannies in the head who sit in the isle seat and bowl over toddlers because the bag blocks them from view.
So anyway, you get the gist… it’s just not a good fit. I had actually resorted to using my Kathmandu day-pack and wrapping Henri and my lenses in lens protectors just so I was able to take non-essential items to jobs. Forget finding anything in there, though, same as the Lowepro… can’t see a darn thing in there! It’s like the Mary Poppins Bag, sometimes things go in… and don’t emerge for DAYS! I actually have to memorise where I put every single object just so I can find it again and there’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a wedding dinner speech and having to go “ziiiiiiiip” in what you hope is a non-crucial moment, just trying to get to your flash bouncer!
So after many a great search, both in shops here in Stockholm (HA! What was I thinking, man bags at every store) and on the world wide web.. (how come no one says that anymore?) and about two weeks ago was when I came across Epiphanie Bags. It was like walking into your favourite camera store and discovering that everything you need is only 99 cents!! I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to find them! I was sure I hadn’t come across them before and as I flicked through the look book, which, by the way, was AWESOME, I just couldn’t believe my eyes. Blue, red, black, blue, brown… PINK! I really did struggle with myself in choosing which one. I already knew I would get pink, that was a given… but which one! “And OMG!!! LOOK! They have a PURPLE ONE!!” I think I exclaimed to no-one in particular. I swear my dog thinks I’m nuts. “OMG… the Paris one is awesome! But maybe it’s a little too big…. but it’s purple, yeaaaah, but what about the CLOVER!!??”… It didn’t take too long to talk myself into it after that. I needed it. It wasn’t a luxury. Why shouldn’t I look good at work? It can be an early birthday gift to myself… (sep 26, in case you’re wondering… leave email for address where to send gifts). I was so happy when I clicked order and found out they sent to Sweden! So many places don’t, and when I asked how long it would take I got an answer pretty quickly… 5 – 6 working days… and that’s exactly when it turned up. 6 working days later. I could even track its every move right through to when it cleared customs at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
So let’s get into why I love this bag so much…
First and foremost, it’s designed by a female photographer, Maile Wilson. She’s not only awesomely talented in her photography, it seems she might have found her second calling in bag design. This is a huge advantage because she’s not only thought about what other female photographers need, but also what they want… like a place to put tampons or lipstick… not just where to shove your camera.
It also comes with this fantastic zipped cover for protection, and while the bag is synthetic leather (great for all those vegans out there) this helps to reduce the amount of time you need to care for it when not in use (which for me will be never!). I ruled out leather bags due to the incredible amount of maintenance you need to give them. Leather protector, leather softener, leather oiling… no thanks.
One of the best things about these bags is that they don’t LOOK like a camera bag, and even though it comes with this awesome little camera medallion, it’s easily removable. AND, unlike other similar bags, it doesn’t have any branding on the outside of the bag. This, to me, is so important as I know all too well what a Lowepro logo can bring you when you’re walking through and Egyptian souk…. or on a beach in Barcelona, where I had everything stolen… yep… everything…. all because of a little logo.
There’s an open pocket on the front on the bag, which is good for things like your passport, documents, shoot lists and there’s a zipped pocket on the back, as well. The straps feel really strong thanks to their unique weaved design and the zippers are sturdy YKK’s.
You can find the logo itself on the inside of the bag, right under the inner zipped pocket where you can fit anything from your wallet to all your personal items. I even managed to get a cord or two in there. There are 2 main compartments. The first being for your good ol’ laptop and the second for all your camera goodies.
Another brilliant thing about this bag is the removable shoulder strap! AND you can wear it ACROSS your body!! Which is simply a must for this little photographer as having it hang off just one shoulder all the time and having to hold it there just drives me crazy! The riveting and the construction feels tough and sturdy and it’s not ugly and of course, there’s a padded bit for your shoulder, which is good if you have boney shoulders like I do.
Probably one of the most brilliant things about these bags are their light coloured, adjustable interiors! GOOD BYE Mary Poppins bag! HELLO finding things easily! You can see here that I’ve shoved an old iBook G4 in there and managed to get 3 lenses and a backup body plus a flash in there, as well! Two of the lenses are hidden under smaller compartments at the side of the bag, whilst the bulk of the gear sits in the centre. I used my 5D to shoot this, but rest assured that it fits also (without the battery grip attached).
Lastly, here’s a shot of me with the bag on my shoulder. Pretty darn good, if you ask me! The colour is my last comment. The colour of the bag is everything the website said it would be! It’s actually the same pink I saw on the website! The only thing left to do now is wait until Maile and her team add YELLOW to their arsenal of colours, because you can be sure I’ll be buying one of those, too!! Thanks Maile, for coming up with these brilliant products. On behalf of all stylish female photographers… I bow to you.