Shopping season is upon us, but let’s not kid ourselves. This isn’t entirely about giving to family and friends. It’s also about the sweet savings that are about to fall upon all of that gear. You can practically smell the stench of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) wafting off of the photography masses. Our greed for new stuff reeks like the belly of a ship hauling squid legs from Tokyo to New York in mid-August. Long after the turkey legs are wrapped in tin foil and the gelatinous blobs of cranberry sauce are sealed up in the freezer, the deals will emerge. It might be a new lens or a camera upgrade that has you breaking down the door of Best Buy or your local camera shop like some geeky, sweaty villager storming over the moat of his local lord’s keep, but just make sure you don’t waste your time on a new bag.
You don’t need it. “But, but…” but nothing! You do not need a new bag. If you’ve spent years of your life with an eye pressed up to a viewfinder, as either a professional or hobbyist, you’ve no doubt acquired a massive collection of gear-toting devices that would put my Pokemon card collection to shame. You know you have, so bite your tongue with any retort.
If I’m honest with myself — and I’m trying to be — I’ve amassed enough camera bags to make a trip to my basement closet feel like wandering an accessory aisle at B&H in Manhattan. What was I thinking when I bought all of these? This one looks cool, this one has a water bladder, this one is tough, this one is small, this one’s waterproof, this one fits on my waist, this one… well, at this point I should just use this one as a coffin at a guinea pig funeral! You all get the point? Bag hoarding serves no one well.
What compounds the ridiculousness is that I probably touted most of these bags as being a “really smart choice,” “an amazing value,” “awesome,” or “the best bag ever” at some point in their short term of service to my professional hauling needs. I loved each one of these bags (which would make them a fitting resting place for said rodent companion, right?). However, at the end of the day they are hollow bundles of fabric, leather, and canvas that hold stuff. That’s it. They hold stuff. I can’t, in good conscience, tell you that any of them failed to hold stuff.
Let’s be crystal clear here. I’m aware that by going on this little tirade, I’m throwing stones from inside a glass house that just added a fifth story of new windows. That is to say, yes, here at Fstoppers we sure do show you guys a lot of bags.
Heck, even sometimes bags with guns next to them. Because at the end of the day, even if my fellow staff writers are only admitting it subconsciously, new bags are little more than pretty accessories used to match our hipster belts and finely polished cameras — or, guns? Feel free to read Jason’s amazing article where no cared about the bag, only about the ammo in the front pouches (that Ranger does look pretty nice though).
Search “camera bags” right at the top of the Fstoppers page and you’ll get just shy of 2,000 results. We love bags. I mean, we joke about banning bag reviews when you all aren’t looking, but really we can’t even help ourselves. How could we? Google gives me a staggering 57 million results for the same search, and yet only 172,000 for “guinea pig coffin.”
This leads me to believe that the ethical thing to do would be to go downstairs, fill up my car with camera bags and donate them to a pet cemetery. Or, I could just fulfill my lust for a new bag by dusting off my old Domke Canvas bag that’s been rolled into a burrito for eight years. Wow! Look how vintage it looks now! I think that’s it. That’s what we should be doing to cure camera bag GAS. Shopping our own stash. Or, heck, find a friend and do a swap! It’s not like they have any more use for their closet full of empty vessels than you do.
Every time a new bag hits the market, it fill us with dreams of wandering the streets of New Orleans in your Vans Classics, dressed like road-worn Marcus Mumford, and clicking away with reverence like a modern day Cartier Bresson. Only we’ll look cooler with our new vegan, airplane vinyl, Kickstarter-funded, what the f$!& bag. It’s a fantasy that we seem to get wrapped up in every time, when at the end of the day, bags hold shit. That is all.