Shutter Muse

I’m Dan Carr, a professional outdoor photographer and photography educator from British Columbia in Canada. I have a lot of photographic equipment with me every time I leave my office, and it all needs to be carried in a variety of bags that suit the situation and location. Since I also run a photography website, it was natural for me to simply review the equipment that I’m using on a day-to-day basis.

What kind of bags do you review?

I only review camera bags because these are the things that I use every day for my photography work. I’m considering reviewing some travel bags in the future because photographers often travel a lot, so I think certain types might also be helpful to my readers. Over the last ten years I have probably reviewed somewhere between 75 and 100 camera bags I would guess.

Sometimes companies will ask to send me bags, but I often turn them down unless it’s a camera bag I would use for my own work. There’s so many types of camera bags out there, and many of them would not be useful to me. I need to find bags that I can use at work and that’s how I test them. So sometimes I turn down the bags that people offer to send me, and sometimes it makes sense to accept them if I’m interested in using it for a while. Sometimes I’ll just buy them myself if it’s something I’m really interested in testing right away.

How do you review the bags?

I just use them for my work. I don’t have a set procedure. I simply rotate the bag into my usual pile of gear that I use for work and then after a time when I feel like I have a good handle on what it’s like, I write about it. For me the comfort is very important because I’m always outdoors with my gear and I need to hike, or climb, or bike, or ski with the gear. It also needs to be durable.

Features are more important than the look of the bag. I assume that is what you mean by “design”? I hate it when companies sacrifice functionality of a bag just to make it look cooler.

Yes, I always field test.

I would say that it usually takes me about a month or two. But if the bag is quite specialized then sometimes more because it might mean that I don’t find a use for it right away. I don’t really force a bag to be used, I just use it for work as I would any other bag. If it’s not the right bag for that job that I’m working on, it stays in the closet until the time is right.

What are your favorite bags?

I like the bags from MindShift Gear because they focus purely on camera bags for outdoor photography. Because they are so specialized, they really understand how important things like carrying comfort are, and they build rugged bags.

I choose bags that suit the work I’m doing at the time.

At the moment I’m using a Think Tank Shape Shifter V2 kind of like a portable office. It carries everything I need that’s not a camera. For my photography gear, I really don’t have an EDC bag because I have such a variety for different situations.

How do people use your reviews?

I want people to carry their camera gear in a way that makes it easy for them. Then they will be more comfortable and less fatigued in their outdoor pursuits, and this leaves them time and mental energy for creating the best images. If you’re spending your whole day struggling with a bag that doesn’t suit your activity, or one that makes your back hurt, you are far less likely to accomplish the photography that you are capable of.

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