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Nine stylish camera bags. No really.

Beautiful Studio Lei Momi satchel in yellow, image courtesy Studio Lei Momi

I’ve started bringing my DSLR with me more these days, and my Cambridge Satchel Company habit is not compatible. I have a little Crumpler camera bag that sort of works, but the strap is too short and I find it difficult to get in and out of. So, I am on the hunt for a nice-looking, simple bag that will fit my camera safely, and will also fit in my bike basket.

Impossible? I hope not. When I started googling this, I kept coming up with really frilly looking ‘women’s camera bags’ with pointless flowers on them. Do we need to review why camera bags don’t need to be gendered, and they don’t need to involve frills and unnecessary zipper pulls? *sigh* It’s nearly as bad as diaper bags and bicycle panniers.

This is an on-the-go, everyday kind of camera bag I’m looking for – no extra lenses or anything. Most of the companies I mention make camera bags specifically, and they have options for those of you toting more kit than I do.

So here’s my list of stylish camera bags that don’t scream CAMERA BAG. Any suggestions? I’d love to hear them in the comments below. This first ONA bag is the priciest of the lot, so don’t despair, there’s more below!

ONA

I’ve seen these around for awhile, and while they are beautiful, they are also very pricey. Still, I hear they last forever.

The Brooklyn €534

ONA brooklyn-black-frontONA brooklyn-black-interior

The Palma €388

ONA palma_black_sideONA palma inside

Johansen

I had only seen people link to Johansen bags that looked too fiddly for me so I hadn’t investigated further. Silly me, they make some gorgeous simple ones too. I am seriously lusting after the Sienna, but I’m not really a brown bag person – I reckon I could make an exception. If they make it in oxblood or black, I’m in serious trouble. I think I’d go for the Granada though, affordable and simple.

The Sienna $179 USD

Jobags sienamainJObags sienainterior

The Granada $99 USD

Jobags granadamain

Jobags granadablack2

Cheeky Lime

Most the shapes here didn’t really work for me, but their satchel in cherry red was the exception. I love that it has detachable backpack straps, because satchel backpacks make me weak in the knees.

Locho Satchel $129.95 USD

Cheeky Lime Loko satchelCheeky Lime Loko inside

Studio Lei Momi

I dipped into Etsy for this one, as I’ve had good luck with Etsy bags. This one is faux leather, which I appreciate for its affordability and protection from rain. The yellow is lovely too – I have several yellow satchels and love them dearly, particularly in grey February.

Alice in Summer bag €117.02

Studio LeMomi satchelStudio Le Momi inside

Pompidoo

European and lovely, Pompidoo has some gorgeous leather options. Again, pricey. But… so pretty. The Geneva below also comes in a beautiful grey.

Geneva €240

Pompidoo GenevaPompidoo geneva inside

Tokyo €290

Pompidoo TokyoPompidoo Tokyo inside

GATTA

I just discovered this bag through Instagram, and I think this is my new favourite of the lot. The black one goes fast, so preorder is the way to go. I am so tempted by the pink though… gah!

Lola $149 USD

gatta outside

So which one would I choose? If budget wasn’t an issue, I think I’d go for either of the Pompidoo bags. For affordability? I think I’d go with the Johansen Granada bag. What about you?

Note: all prices are correct at time of writing, all images belong to their respective companies.

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Lovely things: Holiday photo cards from Minted

Lovely things: Holiday photo cards from Minted

I know, how did it become the last week in November? I’m pretty sure it was October yesterday.

As we do the scrabbly and panicky slide down into the Christmas season, let me simplify one of your problems: Christmas cards.

When we lived in England and all our family was back in Canada, the Christmas cards were a critical part of the holidays. That’s also when I first discovered the photo card companies. It made everything much easier – there was no printing photos on expensive photo paper that I would waste because I never get on with my printer. Only to find out that the photos were about 2cm bigger than the card and envelopes I had bought, followed by rum and eggnog fuelled x-acto knife wielding.

I’ve had mixed success with photo cards. Some are beautiful but cost a small fortune if you get a small number. Others are affordable but show up on shiny, flimsy paper, or all the design options are terrible. However, I’ve been eyeing the Minted selection of holiday cards for a couple of weeks now, and it was serendipity that they emailed me about picking out my favourites. There are so many really lovely options, as well as some neat ones with fancy shapes. There are holiday postcards which has got to be one of the best ideas ever. Forget the envelopes, and why does a card have to fold anyway?

The shipping is $10 to Canada for 3-5 business days which is really quite reasonable. And incredibly, they will print your recipients’ addresses for free. No writing hand cramps. Or fighting with my printer to do the envelopes.

I have tried to confine myself to five of my favourites, you don’t even want to see my ‘maybe’ list.

2014 in a nutshell

2014 in a nutshell by Spotted Whale Designs

Merry little chalkboard by geeking design

falalala

Handlettered fa la la la la by linda and harriett

instant camera

Instant film by Olivia Kanaley

joy

Simply joyous by carly reed

This mini-book option is a bit more, but it would be a lovely gift for some relatives you don’t see as often.

Insta-book holiday by up up creative

So pull up your stockpile of family photos and pick your favourites.

 
Promo

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Things I love: the Joby Gorillapod

Super technical photo set-up

As you know, I live in a small apartment with my husband who occasionally works from home, and my lovely three-year-old son. That means I don’t have acres of space to shoot photos for the blog. No spare rooms free of toy bins, scraps of construction paper, and giant pirate floor jigsaw puzzles. I love our apartment, but sometimes it makes me look like a hoarder when I try and take arty photos of a craft project.

I know tripods make all the difference when you’re trying to take crisp photos, but there’s hardly room for one in most places I need to shoot. I do have a beautiful and ancient one I inherited from my father, though it looks like it came straight from the set of The Hour. The other people at the food photography workshop I took kindly did not laugh at it. However, I recently unearthed my Joby Gorillapod from a box. What a genius thing it is! Why did I leave it to languish so long?

It is, essentially, a tabletop tripod. You need room to set it up near your subject. However, the legs are also bendy, so you can wind it around the top of a chair back, the handle of a cupboard or even fold the legs under a bit to make it shorter – making it infinitely more flexible than a traditional tabletop tripod.

Like much photography equipment, tripods can start at a bit more than reasonable price and then run up to infinity. The Gorillapod is an affordable $36 for the SLR version. There are models for compact cameras or even mobile phones. I love this thing.

Disclosure: None! I researched and bought one a couple years back, promptly forgot about it in a box and found it again recently.

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Win $40 to make a photo book on Blurb for Valentine’s Day

DSC_0423

Oh Valentine’s Day. What a messy holiday you are. All those sparkles to glue down, romantic expectations, and inadequate heart-shaped boxes of crap chocolate. It’s no wonder so many people get quite worked up about it.

For my son’s preschool classmates, we’re making homemade bath fizzies in the shape of a heart, with some witty card I have yet to come up with. As they’re aged 5 and under, Valentine’s doesn’t have much significance other than an excuse for more candy, really.

DSC_0422

For my husband – well, I’m not sure. We’ve never been into expensive gifts, though we’ve tried in the past to go out for dinner. That never works – restaurants always seem to be overbooked and over-stretching themselves. One year we waited over two hours for our promised lobster dinner, only to be told they had run out but forgot to tell us! At nearly 10pm we were ravenous and very, very grumpy.

I do like the idea of celebrating the love you have for some special people in your life. Homemade gifts are lovely, too, but sometimes you want something a little nicer than you could make with your own two hands.

For Christmas this year, I made a little hardcover book of my Instagram photos that illustrated our family’s first year living back in Vancouver for my husband. It was such a lovely experience going back through all those photos – Elliot sitting on the couch in our new and nearly empty apartment, Christopher leaning out the window with him to wave at people celebrating Pride, many shots of our very local beach, and Elliot on his first bike. I think it would make a lovely gift for Valentine’s too.

My photo book printer of choice has always been Blurb, for their ease of use and reasonable prices. I first discovered them when we were living in the UK when I was searching for a way to print some baby photo books. Even after trying a few other companies, I’ve always come back to Blurb. They have easy, clean templates, or you can design your own pages from the ground up. I think the best recommendation I can give is this: I have left countless photo book projects half-finished on other sites, but I have always actually completed and printed the ones I make with Blurb.

Blurb, in all their wisdom, have a timely giveaway for my readers: $40 CDN to spend on one of their photo books. We’ve arranged it so you will have enough time to get your photo project printed and shipped to be with you for Valentine’s, if that’s what you’d like.

Go forth and enter!

Fine print: Offer valid through April 30, 2013 (11:59 p.m. local time). A CAD $40 discount is applied toward your product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I’m a Blurb affiliate, but I don’t earn anything from this giveaway, I just wanted to share with you!

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EDC XL: Melissa Hartfiel, owner of Fine Lime Designs & professional food photographer


I met Melissa at a great food photography workshop she helped organise as part of the Food Bloggers of Canada. Over Twitter afterwards, we bonded over our mutual love of British murder TV shows and food in general. I thought her jobs as designer and professional food photographer would make for an interesting EDC. I thought the photography obsessed would enjoy Melissa spilling her camera bag as well.

Inside my big Nine West Satchel 

  • iPad 2
  • old grocery list
  • Blackberry bold
  • The Boss of You by Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears of Vancouver’s Raised Eyebrow Studios
  • 355 ml green tinted coca-cola bottle stuffed with paper napkins
  • moleskin graph paper notebook
  • Pentel EnerFit pen in purple
  • Random piece of garbage
  • Parking tickets (proof of payment… not tickets for not paying!)
  • Skytrain tickets
  • Assorted debit receipts
  • Change purse my mum brought me from Turkey
  • Business card holder
  • Wallet
  • Burgundy umbrella
  • Umbrella cover for a different umbrella
  • Apple headphones
  • Canon P&S
  • Prescription sunglasses
  • Car and house keys
  • Cargo lip gloss quad in Tenaga
  • Original Rosebud Salve
  • Blistex Complete Moisture (Best. Stuff. Ever.) [Erin says, totally agree, I bulk buy these]
  • Hair elastic
  • Tupperware container that transported treats I’m testing out for the blog to a friend
  • Kleenex pocket pack
  • **I can also fit my DSLR in this bag which was one of the reasons I bought it!

Inside my Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home Camera Bag (contents change radically depending on what I’m shooting – this was after photographing the Vancouver Christmas Market)

  • Canon EOS 5DMKII Camera
  • iPad 2
  • Moo cards carrying case
  • Canon USB Cable
  • Canon Speedlight 430EX II
  • Moleskine softcover notebook
  • Car and house keys
  • Kleenex
  • Canon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 DO IS lens
  • 2 Pentel EnerFit Pens in blue
  • Apple Camera cable converter (for importing RAW files directly on to my iPad when on location)
  • Bath and Bodyworks hand sanitizer in Sweet Pea
  • Blistex Complete Moisture
  • Blistex Raspberry lipcare
  • Time & Again hand cream in Sweet Vanilla
  • Wet Ones (as you can see, you can touch a lotta icky stuff when taking photos)
  • Betty Rubble figurine
  • Excel Gum
  • Business card holder that doubles as a tiny wallet for DL and Credit/Debit Card
  • Canon 100mm 2.8 macro lens
  • 50mm reverse macro ring
  • lens cleaning cloth
  • Blackberry Bold
  • Media ticket to Vancouver Christmas Market (the last thing I photographed)
  • London Drugs generic ibuprofen
  • Macro lens adaptor for my Fuji Instax instant camera
  • Bus/Skytrain tickets
  • Receipt
  • Canon 5D Manual (yes, pros do carry their manuals – and we use them!)
  • BC Ferries ticket for the Sunshine Coast
  • Parking tickets (for proof of parking, not for not paying!)

Melissa is the owner of Fine Lime Designs, where she is a freelance designer and photographer. She’s also one of a trio of co-founders of Food Bloggers of Canada. When she’s not designing, photographing or writing her own food photography blog, Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach, you can find her hanging with her slobbery Lab, Sam at the beach, gobbling up design magazines, obsessing over British murder mystery TV shows, quoting Seinfeld, seeking out new music, scouring flea markets and thrift shops for food photography props and drinking a lot of tea and eating a lot of chocolate.

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