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What’s in My Camera Bag? (Beginner Photography Essentials)

Hey friends! 

If you follow me on my personal Instagram (@katerinaharos) or my photography Instagram (@mindful.photography_) you will quickly notice what a passion I have for photography. It’s been something I’ve loved ever since I was little. I grew up being very creative and having an eye for the most “picture perfect” shot in every situation. I live for anything aesthetically pleasing and am the one who cries at the site of a sunset. There are so many jaw dropping, beautiful scenes in life and I can’t help but want to pick up my phone or camera every time and capture it. From when I was young, I always hoped that one day I would eventually be able to get a camera of my own – and soon, after a lot of saving up, that day came.

Now, I have created my own blog with a page just for my photography, my own photography Instagram account, and have stepped out of my comfort zone and began sharing my photography publicly. Here and there I have booked photo shoots and made connections, bringing me closer to the goals I have for my photography and my overall creative career. 

If you’re a beginner interested in photography and wanting to take it to the next step, or just purchased your first camera and unsure what other gear to buy – I’m here to help. If you follow me on Instagram you know that with almost everything I purchase I strive to find it at a reasonable price. So yes, camera gear is expensive, but trust me, I saved up for it myself and it’s very doable. Plus, I’ll be realistic in my camera gear suggestions, promise.

With that being said, I think its a great time to share exactly what goes into my bag when I’m out taking photos, whether that be for a photoshoot or a trip, or just by myself.

Now, keep reading to see what’s in my camera bag! I will have everything linked for you so you can easily reference to everything I am listing here and checkout with ease.

The Bag:

  • Dagne Dover 
    • Style: Dakota Neoprene backpack
    • Size: Small
    • Color: Black

This bag is the best bag ever. This company is the best company ever. But, first, the bag. It’s my go to. I take it everywhere my camera and I go. It comes with me through all my travels, all my professional photoshoots, even a dinner that I may want to get a photo at during. It’s a beautiful style and perfect size, that it fits every occasion. The straps are super comfortable on my shoulders (I’ve worn it for an entire day hiking and taking photos and my shoulders didn’t hurt once). I either just place my camera right inside, along with my wallet, sunglasses, chapstick, snack – anything I need. It surprisingly fits a lot. Or, if I’m only taking photos and don’t need anything else inside and only need my other lens – I place my camera inside my “padded carrying case,” and then place the entire case vertically inside the bag for extra cushion and support (read more on this below).

And yes, you read that right, this bag is neoprene – so those really expensive swimsuits you see all over Instagram (Triangl I’m talking to you) made out of neoprene? Yep. This is the same material – completely water resistant. And yeah, you can literally throw your bag in the washer if it gets dirty, since it’s neoprene. A-MAZING.

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Now for the company. Although this backpack has a steep price to it, it is completely worth it – all the Dagne Dover bags are beyond worth it. The company is one of my favorites and I currently own about 5+ bags/accessories of my own. The company was founded by three women in 2013 that have established incredible ethics in their business. All their products are non toxic, all of their excess scrap materials are used for sampling to minimize waste at their factories, a few of their collections are 100% vegan, and, when they have excess inventory or returns, they donate them to charities like Single Mothers Outreach and Closet On Main. Does this not sound like the best company ever? (info from dagnedover.com)

And, as if that wasn’t enough, the major thing I noticed with Dagne Dover is that they constantly listen to their customers and make changes to their products when customers request it. Dagne Dover makes everything look extremely cute, and their products are designed to keep you organized and most importantly – providing you with a product that is extremely functional. They truly make life easier lol.

That is how much I support this company and I’m not even sponsored by them! (Dagne, you listening?)

Here’s what the bag looks like on:

Photo from my trip to Colorado. Checkout my Colorado Guide!

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The Camera:

  • Sony A7ii
    • Mirrorless
    • Full Frame sensor
    • This camera was suggested to me by my brother, who is also into photography. This camera is the perfect step to take in the direction of professional photography, on a budget, and not being completely overkill. I absolutely love my A7ii. I was able to learn all the manual settings on here easily when first starting out and really learned the ins and outs to professional photography using a mirrorless, full frame sensor camera. I highly recommend Sony Cameras whether you are just getting into photography or a professional looking for an upgrade. They have all different types of cameras that will fit your needs and goals.
    • UPDATE 10/07/21: Recently updated to a SonyA7riii!

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  • Sony 50mm 1.8F lens
    • This is my favorite, go-to lens. I absolutely love my 50mm lens. The 50mm is just enough focal length to shoot almost every type of photography; portrait, landscape, food photography, etc. I only have trouble with this focal length when shooting super tall buildings or mountains and I don’t have room to back up enough to capture the entire shot in my lens – which is rare. 
    • The fixed lens allows a low, F1.8 aperture that is absolutely beautiful for portraits. 

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  • Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
    • This is actually the lens that comes with the camera when you purchase it (if you choose that option). I don’t normally grab this lens since I don’t need the 28-70mm focal length as often and since my 50mm has a better aperture vs this being a 3.5F. But, I do grab this lens in those situations where I need to capture the full span of a skyscraper building or corner to corner of a massive mountain. 
    • UPDATE 10/07/21: Recently updated this to the Tamron 28-75mm!

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Accessories:

  • Padded carrying case
    • This was something I searched for for a while. Instead of getting a completely padded, really large backpack with camera slots, I wanted just a padded case that I could place my camera inside and any additional lenses. I needed a bit of protection that I could put in my Dagne Dover backpack or any bag or duffle of mine during a trip or shoot. This one is perfect and does the job great! Also, very inexpensive.

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  • Camera charger + backups
    • A necessity! I have 3 charging pods for my camera and they last me an entire day while on a trip. So, if I start taking photos in the morning and go the whole day taking pictures throughout a trip, those three charging pods will last me the entire day. I am purchasing more though soon for those “just in case” moments and recommend it too.
  • Flash Drives
    • I personally recommend having a few flash drives on hand for certain situations you may need to transfer photos to temporarily or if a client wants their photos physically, so on a flash drive versus sent over Drive or Dropbox.

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  • Memory Cards
    • I have about three. 2, 64GB’s and 1, 128GB. Always, always bring one or two with you as backup in case one gets full during a shoot or trip. The specific ones I use are linked below.

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  • Lens Cleaning Cloths 

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  • Lens Air Blower
    • A great, gentle way to clean dust particles off your lens.

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  • USB Portable Memory Card Reader
    • A MUST. This is how you will drop all your photos from your camera to your desktop/laptop to begin editing. The one I use is linked below. I like it because it fits multiple size memory cards. Plus it was inexpensive and works great.

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  • Memory card adapter for iPhone
    • This is another great item to purchase IF your camera doesn’t transfer photos to your phone via WIFI connection. My Sony A7ii does, so I no longer need this adapter, but WOW did this little thing come in handy when I had my old camera that didn’t have a “airdrop” type feature on it for transferring photos. Keep in mind that these adapters are fairly cheap and sometimes glitchy after you’ve used them for awhile, so you may need to purchase a few here and there.

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  • Organizing pouches
    • I love these little cases I got from a local shop called, ModGen in the Third Ward (Milwaukee, WI). Having zipper cases like this helps organize all your small items like the ones listed above! You can find similar ones like mine linked below. 

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  • Arsenal 
    • This product is SO cool and such an incredible idea. My boyfriend, Tim, got it for me for Christmas after we both saw it online and were in awe at the concept. Arsenal is considered the “smart camera assistant.” In short, it’s basically a device that attaches to your camera and is controlled through an app on your phone, that when placed on a tripod, can analyze the photo you want to take through the lens and adjust to the most perfect settings in order to take that shot. So pretty much sheer genius. 
    • The technical explanation via arsenal.com is that Arsenal suggests settings based on your subject and environment. It uses an advanced neural network to pick the optimal settings for any scene. Arsenal 2 quickly examines the scene. It uses image recognition to identify environment and subject specific needs. Arsenal 2 then finds great settings by comparing the current scene with thousands of professional photos using convolutional deep neural network. Lastly, Arsenal 2 optimizes settings based on 22 different factors, like hyperfocal distance, sensor dynamic range and lens transmission.

Outside of my bag:

  • Gorilla Pod
    • This is a great tripod for on-the-go type photography, such as when you’re on a trip and going to new spots all day and just have you and your backpack. So if you won’t have room to haul a full size tripod, the Gorilla Pod will be your best friend. The legs can wrap around any tree or poll that you may need for the perfect shot and, it’s also great to hold while doing video as well. 

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  • Full size tripod
    • You always need a tripod that you can turn to for shots that need complete steadiness and no movement. I highly recommend getting a tripod with a “ball head” that moves 365 degrees around so you have full freedom with the positioning of your camera.

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  • Tripod with a detachable horizontal bar for birds eye view function
    • This type of tripod I recommend to those who will use the bar that can be removed and reattached horizontally. I searched for so long for a tripod like this and finally found one that has this feature. I wanted the tripod to have a removable bar like this that can be placed horizontally, so your camera can be attached facing completely downward (birds eye view), while fully away from the legs of the tripod. Wondering why I would need this type of shot? Think food videos shot from a birds eye view angle. Such as Tasty or Yummly videos you see on Facebook! Those companies use really expensive tripods that attach way above their countertops – but now I found a more inexpensive tripod that can recreate that function for the average user. Linked below.

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That is everything I keep in my camera bag, plus a few extras! Let me know if this blog post helped you and what other types of blog posts you would like to hear from me. 

Want me to post a video showing you everything in my bag and going into more detail with everything I use? Just comment below to request it!

Thank you for reading!

– Kat

*Please note, camera updates have occurred since this post. Keep an eye out for a new blog on my camera soon!

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Katerina Haros - Mindful Living Company - Professional Photography

ABOUT KAT

You can call me Kat! I'm a Milwaukee native, always looking for something new to check out, whether that be in MKE or across the world. Follow my blog and social for all things travel, inspiration, lifestyle and living mindfully.

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