Are You a ‘Fanny Pack Photgrapher'?

Under the category of so-ridiculous-that-I'm-not-sure-it's-real-but-kind-of-a-cool idea is a video that chronicles the life of a "fanny pack photographer."

I had heard of fanny packs, as a child of the 80s. I know what a photographer is (I think). I did not know what a fanny pack photographer was. Is it a camera that also serves as a fanny pack? A fanny pack that doubles as a camera? The answer is that is none of these things.

As YouTuber and photographer Omar Gonzalez defines it, a fanny pack photographer is a photographer who opts to use a fanny pack to store their photo gear and related items instead of a backpack or shoulder bag as is more common. And then, I really thought about it. I actually started life as a fanny pack photographer. My first digital camera was the floppy disk-based Sony Mavica MVC-FD83. It could fit about six pictures on a 3.5" floppy disk, which my students recently called a "VHS tape" when I busted out the camera in my photography summer camp and asked them what it was. Because of this, I often traveled around with a fanny pack full of floppy disks so that I could keep shooting. So yes, I am, in fact, a fanny pack photographer.

While I have not rocked the fanny pack in quite some time, there are some modern-day riffs on this. I recently reviewed the HEX Ranger DSLR sling, and I would say that this is the spiritual successor to the fanny pack. It is eminently more practical though, with specialized pockets carved out for lenses and accessories, and some degree of weatherproofing. Though you could probably find a weatherproofed fanny pack.

I also thought about some classic digital cameras that would make perfect fanny pack cameras. A lot of micro four-thirds cameras came to mind, such as my evergreen Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1. A more modern take on this would be the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV with the added bonus of a viewfinder on that camera.

What are your thoughts on fanny pack photography? Are there cameras that might make a better fanny pack camera than others? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Wasim Ahmad's picture

Wasim Ahmad is an assistant teaching professor teaching journalism at Quinnipiac University. He's worked at newspapers in Minnesota, Florida and upstate New York, and has previously taught multimedia journalism at Stony Brook University and Syracuse University. He's also worked as a technical specialist at Canon USA for Still/Cinema EOS cameras.

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Like queen Cersei in Game of Thrones: SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
On the other end of the spectrum, do I carry a photo backpack with me?
In the voice of Balki: don’t be ridiculous!
I prefer custom accessory pouches (2) I mount on my belt. Camera on a sling strap.
That’s how I roll…. :)

I've used fanny packs in the past, but besides never being big enough to hold all the stuff I need, they tend to get hung up when I go thru thick brush, and are always in the way when I have to duck under fallen tree trunks. And then when traversing very steep, rocky terrain, they always are in the way and prevent me from turning and balancing the way I need to. When the bulk is right on the center of my back, it works out a lot better in most situations. It's never in the way and never bangs into trees, brush, or rocks. Hence, a backpack is much preferred over the fanny pack.

I would not be caught dead with one of them. If I need something simple and light, a small messenger bag. Otherwise, backpack.

Btw, he reminds of the comedian, Jo Koy, in his younger days.

That's me!

The wonderful thing about the Lowe Pro Orion II AW, is that you just whip it around to the front, and you have a "shelf" on which you can change lenses, fiddle with filters, etc.

When I'm out with other photographers in the Pacific NorthWet, I can fire off shots at the rapidly retreating wildlife, change lenses, and fire off a few more, while my buddies are still looking around for a dry place to put their pack.

I also like the lower centre of gravity and less sweat over my entire back.

With compact µ4/3rds gear, there is plenty of room. I get an OM-1 and eight focal lengths, from 4mm circular fisheye, to 500mm mirror lens in there! Plus a speed booster for my OM film lenses, and a 1.4 and 2.0 tele-extender, and a few extra batteries.

And if I'm going somewhere I don't want to look like a nerd, the thing comes with a shoulder strap, so I can "fake it" as a regular camera bag. But that rarely happens, because I value function over form, and don't really pay much attention to fashion and such. I won't go anywhere that requires a collar on my shirt or long pants.

This is my third. I started out as a starving teen, with a non-camera fanny pack with some closed cell foam on the bottom and outsides. Then I got the Orion I, which had actual dividers — I could fit a tonne of svelte OM film gear in there, typically four lenses and two bodies! It was falling apart by the time I got into µ4/3rds, so I got the Orion II.

So, go ahead and poke fun. I'll have more gear accessible, and will be getting more shots.

I don't think anyone would refer to that as a "fanny" pack, though. It's more of a bag.

Ah, but you haven't seen the other side yet. It's fully padded, with a wide waist band. (Stock photo doesn't do it justice.)


I use a Mountainsmith hip pack to carry an Oly E-M1.2 and a lens or two, and a water bottle or two. It can also work as a shoulder bag. I use the hip pack because I am often hiking in rugged areas where keeping a low center of gravity is the safest way to go. It's a handy, versatile day bag that works for me.

A most unfortunate use of the word fanny. In the UK fanny means something entirely different, potentially amusing and vulgar. So one has to larf.

So true. As such we brits often refer to them as "bum-bags". Far less rude ;)

That's why I call it a "belt bag" or "waist bag."

I had an Aussie friend visit. We were about to go somewhere, and I said, "Wait a bit… I have to go get my fanny pack."

To which he replied, "Oh, you've got one, do ya?"

LOVE the Supreme dig!

Chuckling a bit over the comments here about the varying impressions of the term 'fanny pack'. For some reason, in some areas the term has become associated with somewhat overweight, out of shape middle agers trying to be cool.

But more seriously, the concept of travelling light with a generic carrier (as opposed to a 'camera bag') is quite appealing especially for times when you want a camera with for casual photography, but have no particular objective in mind. I have a semi pocketable Lumix superzoom for those times, and it easily could fit in a fanny pack.

I have a ton of camera bags and still enjoy using a Lowepro Orion AW II from 1999. It is basically a fanny pack on steroids! The shape and depth will accommodate a gripped DSLR or a Nikon Z9. I prefer it to a backpack because the weight stays low and on the hips. Belt Pack: 12.6 x 7.1 x 9.1" (32 X 18 X 23 cm) (WxDXH)