What’s in my bag (or what’s nót in there)?

So I’d thought to do a blog on what I use to do my photography.

Years ago I started photography as anyone would. Buying your first cheap DSLR camera because you had an upcoming trip (in my case a European tour with my band at the time) so you could shoot some images that were of better quality than the current phone you had (I remember having a LG KG 800).

Soon it became clear to me that I liked shooting DSLR camera’s and that I wanted to continue this pursuit even after I returned from the tour. Through various stages I ended up having quite the setup which included a full frame DSLR by Nikon and Carl Zeiss prime lenses. It was a dream setup of mine that I never expected to get rid off.

But then I did, and here’s why.

I was already shooting prime lenses exclusively (mainly 50mm lenses) and doing pretty much everything at manual, including the focusing since the Carl Zeiss lens had no autofocus. When shooting I noticed that simplicity was a common thread throughout my images. Yet, the digital aspect of my process did not allow me to focus in a way that Annie Leibovitz (her early work), Jeanloup Sieff or Henri Cartier Bresson did. They were very minimal in their approach as to how many images they would shoot but also the processing of those images. No matter what I tried, I could not get a similar approach using digital gear.

So I bought a Nikon F2 while still owning all of the digital gear. I loved the thing so much, it was ridiculous. It was built like a tank and just looked the part. I ended up taking it with me to several vacations since it could endure so much and decided that whatever I was going to do, film would be a part of it. One image in particular led to this conclusion.

Salomé shot on film with my Nikon F2

The thing is that for this shot, I only took one shot. For one practical reason: money. I could and still cannot afford to buy hundreds of rolls of film. So it was from this shoot that I realized that if you must, you will focus better and pay closes attention to the image within your viewfinder.

Eventually I fell so in love I sold every digital piece of gear and bought myself a Leica M2 with a Summicron 50mm lens. This has been a dream come true and to this day I still use it as my main axe to do my photography. Nothing beats the feel of Leica rangefinder nor do many lenses come close to the ones Leica produces. Obviously this is a matter of opinion but as with many things, your references are your heroes.

Some of my greatest inspirations are Peter Lindbergh, Annie Leibovitz, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Helmut Newton. Many of them owned a Leica at some point in their career. I would love to do a blogpost on their work as well, but that’s for another time. For now, this is what my bag looks like when shooting. It’s simply the Leica M2 + Summicron 50mm by Leica, a lightmeter because the Leica doesn’t have one and a dustblower. I use a Ona Bowery Messenger Bag that just looks and feels great and holds exactly the right amount of stuff to do my shoots. Again, forcing me to focus on the essentials.

Processed with VSCO
Processed with VSCO
Processed with VSCO

I know it’s not much but that’s the whole thing. I would love for you to ditch the excess of gear and try to shoot analogue sometimes. There is no immediate result nor reference. Every aspect has to be taken into account, every time you shoot another frame. Also, I highly recommend sending your above mentioned film to Carmencita Filmlabs if you live in Europe, because they do a hell of a job developing and scanning your film. Don’t take me for it, but check out some of their clients!

Now, go shoot some film!

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