I’m one of those people who love being organized and having a place for everything. I love that feeling of flow you get during a shoot when you’re in the zone and everything is going right. And I love a newborn session with a warm, sleepy baby, a pile of cozy blankets, and of course all of my essential gear ready for action in a neatly packed bag at my feet.
For this article I tried out two different Jill-e bags for two very different purposes: the Medium Bone Leather Camera Bag for my on-location shoots, and the Laptop Career Bag for client visits and other lower profile shooting situations.
I work mostly on-location and often in clients’ homes, so my main gear bag must be able to tote a good amount of gear and be easy to work from. As a female photographer I look for bags that aren’t overly bulky or mannish – I’m not going on safari or into a war zone – I want something stylish and a little feminine, something functional that still fits my personality and my brand.
The Medium Bone Leather Camera Bag
My former camera bag left much to be desired. It was too small to fit all my gear and completely lacking any style, so I was quite excited to upgrade to a shiny new Jill-e bag. When I loaded it up for the first time I felt downright fancy.
The leather is beautiful. The contrast stitching and chrome hardware give it just the right amount of bling. Of course it has the padded adjustable compartments that you’d expect from a high-end camera bag (in a polka-dot fabric, no less), and it sports a detachable clutch for holding your phone, wallet, lip gloss, or whatever. Once I’d checked out all the compartments and rearranged the padded dividers to fit my gear, it was time to fully load up for a newborn session the following day.
Here’s what I packed in my bag:
And here’s all the gear loaded into my car for the session:
Yeah, this is how I roll. For newborn sessions anyway. I really appreciated the comfy padded shoulder strap on the Jill-e bag during loading and unloading (and then loading and unloading again) as well as having all my camera gear protected and contained in a single bag.
My client for this shoot had recently put in new flooring and had yet to completely furnish their living room, so we had a nice open space to set up in. The room had lovely natural light coming from a window and sliding glass door, complimented by the beautiful new floors to use as a backdrop.
During the shoot I really fell in love with the dual zipper on the top of the bag. I found it makes a huge difference in being able to get to things quickly – this bag is super easy to work from. Even with a good amount of gear packed in, when the top is open you can see everything inside and easily get what you need. I was also pleased that the light color of the inside material bag makes the black camera gear really stand out and easy to see, meaning I spend less time digging around for lens caps and the other odds and ends that inevitably get tossed into the bag during a session.
I didn’t end up needing extra memory cards or batteries this time, but the mesh pockets in the top are perfect for keeping them organized and otherwise out of the way. The outer pockets worked well for more occasional items like the gray card and lens cloth. The two larger outer pockets look like they have buckles, but luckily those are just for show – all the pockets use a magnetic closure.
For my shooting style I found this bag to be a perfect blend of form and function, and it is now an indispensable shooting companion for me.
The Jill-e Laptop Career Bag
For client visits, location scouting, and other situations that require a lower-profile bag and minimal gear (while of course still looking professional and fabulous), the slim Laptop Career Bag from the Jill-e E-GO collection is a great option.
On a recent client visit I was bringing an iPad, an album sample, client file, paper samples, and the usual wallet, phone, etc., and it all fit well into this versatile bag. It has a large zippered-closure section with padded compartments for an iPad (or up to 12” laptop), phone and other electronics, and magnetic-closure outer pockets that are roomy enough to stash file folders, albums, or magazines.
The bag can also double as a camera bag with the addition of the Jill-e Camera Insert Bag. This neat little padded insert fits a DSLR and one lens. The camera and lens must be placed separately into the insert bag to fit, so though it is a very compact setup it doesn’t allow you to leave the camera fully assembled in your bag.
I brought the bag and camera insert to an event so I’d be able to get a few nice photos of friends while I was there. The bag itself doesn’t look at all like a camera bag and I felt more like I was carrying a large purse. Once I had taken the camera out and put the lens on, rather than putting the camera back in the bag now and then to socialize, I ended up just wearing the camera throughout the event to avoid the bother of detaching the lens and putting things away multiple times. So I will be using this bag mainly for client visits, with the versatility of the insert system being a nice bonus.
To wrap this up, if you’re in the market for a new camera bag definitely have a look at the Jill-e Classic collection as well as their new E-GO collection. They have some truly fantastic camera bags for both female and male photographers.
A tech expert turned photographer, Hari Simons of Wild Plum Photography brings a fresh perspective to portrait photography. Working mostly with natural light, her images are slices of real life. In a landscape of portrait photographers, Hari’s honest and free approach to portraiture sets her apart from the crowd. Check out her beautiful online portfolio here: https://www.wildplumphotography.com/