Product Spotlight: Spider Holster

December 18th, 2012

Evan is a natural people person, and loves working with couples to document their most important moments in life. Specializing in engagement and wedding portraits, his beautiful and engaging images showcase his love for people and capturing emotions on camera. It is easy to see his dedication to his craft and his ongoing effort to always capture that oh so perfect shot.

The following review of the Spider holster, written by Evan, is much more than a product review. It also provides a fascinating peek into a day in the life of a wedding photographer who clearly loves what he’s doing. You can learn more about Evan, and his photography, on his Zenfolio site.

Product Spotlight: SPIDER Camera Holster by Evan Chung

As a wedding photographer, I am always looking for ways to improve my workflow for photographing a bride and groom’s big day. Every second counts and having the right lens ready at the perfect moment is paramount. You don’t want to miss a thing and I’ve found that the Spider Camera Holster has kept me ready to shoot at a moment’s notice.

Shooting weddings can be pretty stressful. Let me elaborate: Drop your gaze for even a moment and you may completely miss the shot that could have defined the entire day’s shoot. What a travesty! And all because you had to switch cameras or change a lens. Guests are bummed, the bride is furious, children are crying and your Yelp rating just plummeted. You are left hugging your knees and rocking back and forth in search of your happy place. Traumatic? Possibly. Over-dramatic? Probably. A real fear for photographers like me? Most definitely!

Don’t worry. No small children were harmed or coerced to cry in the making of that exaggeration, but the anxiety of the circumstance is certainly palpable. As a professional, I make sure my gear is prepped and I plan ahead to prevent such mishaps. Nevertheless, I’m always open to new discoveries that allow me to spend less time with my head in my camera bag, and more time shooting. The Spider Camera Holster is one such discovery that has revolutionized my wedding day workflow.

The way each photographer shoots a wedding is completely different. The most pertinent aspect of my own wedding day workflow is the handling of my gear. I shoot with two camera bodies with various zoom and prime lenses to cover the wide spectrum of photography genres covered in the day – portrait, macro, action shots, architecture, landscape, low-light nightlife, and even wildlife (dependent on an open bar). I shoot it all in the short space of a wedding day, and the key is having the right camera rig (camera, lens, and flash combination) ready for each situation.

More often than not, the situation calls for different lenses to cover the varying focal lengths. I sling my primary rig over my shoulder and hang the second rig around my neck. This clunky setup is a better solution than having to run back over to my bag to switch lenses or grab the other camera.  However, it’s far from perfect, as my sore back and shoulder will testify. I am always struggling with straps and apologizing for whacking Uncle Joe with my swinging flash as I navigate through the reception tables. My bulky and uncomfortable setup is less than ideal, but it’s better than missing the shot. The Spider Camera Holster has changed all that.

The 2-part design is simple. The adjustable nylon belt clips together with the metal holster and hip pad to one side. The camera plate screws into the bottom of the camera using a hex key (Allen wrench) which is conveniently stored within the plate itself. The plate has a pin that slides down into the holster until stopping at the bottom. This allows the camera to hang at your side in a fixed position that is easily accessible. For added safety, there is also a latch that can be set to open, lock, or manual release.

When I first tried out the Spider Holster, I used it on a 4-mile hike in the California Santa Cruz redwoods. I brought my camera (as usual) eager to try out my new toy.  After some initial adjusting, I found that the holster belt distributed the camera weight across my hips nicely and left my hands free and my neck unencumbered. It let me hike easier without even having to use a backpack. I could clearly feel the ergonomic benefits of having the camera holstered at my waist compared to across my chest or tugging on my neck or shoulder. With a good first test run, I was ready to see how the holster would perform in an actual shoot.

The next time I used the Spider Holster was during an engagement shoot, using only one camera. While I really noticed the ergonomic features and weight distribution of the holster during my hike, the engagement shoot really highlighted the smooth mechanics of the Spider system. Rather than putting the camera down or hanging it from my neck, I could simply slide the camera into and out of the holster. I was now free to gesticulate in conversation and interact with my subjects in a more natural way. I also loved the hip pad, which protected my hip from being bumped and bruised by the camera. I didn’t use the locking mechanism during this shoot but I certainly did at the following one.

At my next gig, a wedding, I tested the capability of Spider holster’s locking mechanism. While shooting from a moving vehicle is not advised, it was the only way to capture the bridal party as they raced through the city on scooters. With one camera at my side and the other in hand, I photographed them from the sunroof of a guest’s car. The bridal party followed closely behind, disguised as a finely dressed moped biker gang. I locked my second rig into my Spider Holster and was able to access it without any worry of the camera swinging to the side and knocking out my driver or scraping the paint. By the end of that wedding, I was fully convinced of the holster’s value at my side. By the second wedding, I found myself depending on it.

To have my second camera at my side and ready to shoot with a moment’s notice is invaluable. Fluid transitions between the two cameras allow me to flow seamlessly through the wedding day with considerably less time spent in my bag. As a result, my shooting workflow has completely changed. My trusty camera bag used to get toted around with me from one location to the next as I photographed the couple. Keeping both cameras hanging on my person by their straps would inevitably become cumbersome with the constant relocation, so I would bring my bag and work out of it. Now my heavy bag can kick back and relax as the little Spider Holster does all the heavy lifting. My response time has sped up dramatically, and my workflow is far more streamlined. My next move will be an upgrade to the dual camera Spider System, which will make the transition from one camera to the other even smoother.

I have now started to allow myself to delight in the freedom that the Spider Holster affords me. With no bag, straps, or swinging cameras to worry about, it frees me up to focus on making creative and thoughtful photographs. Weddings are already a whirlwind of timing, social demands, ever-changing lighting conditions, and a cardio workout (at times, there’s even some yoga). It’s simple tools like the Spider Holster that dial down the crazy in an already stressful environment and get me back to basics – composing an awesome photograph. I’d say the Spider Holster even has a bit of Zen in it.