My female friends who are photographers bristle when you bring up the idea of a camera bag being designed for women. The few women’s camera bags they’ve seen have tended to be cutesy – and cutesy doesn’t cut it.
They want the same things in a bag as the men – roomy, stealthy and sturdy. Why should gender matter in the design?
ThinkTank, an industry leader in camera bags for every kind of photography, may have found the right combination of aesthetic and function in a new line of bags created for women.
The design of the Lily Deanne series was a collaboration by ThinkTank founder and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice and designer Lily Fisher, responsible for many of the successful designs in the ThinkTank line.
The two wanted to bring a more polished look to ThinkTank’s signature pro-level functionality and materials that protect gear and hold up to the rigors of any scenario and environment. Fitzmaurice said a photographer’s appearance can matter on some assignments, like weddings, corporate portraiture or fashion shoots.
Fitzmaurice called on her friends in the business for ideas on creating a classic bag that secures camera bodies and lenses, wears on a shoulder comfortably and has a high-end style without screaming “photographer!”
Fitzmaurice and Fisher stuck with a durable black nylon but added leather on outer pocket flaps and metal accents to give the three bags an elegant but understated look. The bags come in all black or brown and black.
Unsure whether ThinkTank hit the mark, I sent friends a link with pictures of the Lily Deanne bags to see whether they thought the company got it right.
“I’m impressed,” said Chicago freelance photojournalist Alyssa Schukar. “One, it’s not hot pink and two, it doesn’t have flowers embroidered on the outside. I swear ‘cute’ is what most companies think women photographers want when in reality, I’m always more interested in stealthy than in style. (These) seem pretty sweet.”
For a more polished look at weddings, award-winning photographer Lane Fowler, also of Chicago, went with a faux leather bag that is purse-like. However, she said she is disappointed because the materials make the bag heavy even before she adds her gear.
“I am interested to see how it feels as well as how much weight there is,” Fowler said. “Immediately, I liked the black color. I like how it doesn’t have a bunch of distracting bling on it. I love that you can have the flap stay over or keep it open all of the time. The zipper gives a much larger opening than my current bag does.”
When Kendra Stanley-Mills left her newspaper shooting job in Muskegon, Mich., she brought her trusty black camera bag with her into the wedding business. She never doubted her bag, but she began to notice how female colleagues switched to a more elegant camera bag.
“I think (these) are nice for a couple of reasons,” Stanley-Mills said. “I do like that they have both black and brown hues. I do hate carrying a black bag when I’m wearing brown boots. As long as these bags are utilitarian, like I know and trust ThinkTank bags to be, I honestly would consider this as my next purchase. It’s basic but adds a bit more sophisticated look that I’m used to carrying.”
The smallest of the bags, ideal for a mirrorless camera system, is called the Lucido and retails for $199.75. The medium-size Mezzo can hold an iPad or an 11-inch MacBook Air costs $249.74. The Tutto costs $299.75 and in addition to bodies and lenses, can hold a 15-inch MacBook Pro.