Travel Photography : Pouches & Shedding Bags

A common theme with photographers … and a theme in things I have written about photographers … is that we like to carry pretty much everything with us on the road. Maybe it is a genetic kink in our DNA as photographers, that insecure feeling that we’re missing something, that we will miss something, but for those that seek a lighter travel experience there are options out there for you.

The other day as I placed my Canon 24f1.4L and 85f1.2L onto my Canon EOS 5D and EOS 5D Mk II and slipped my Canon 16-35f2.8L and 70-200f2.8L into the Newswear Press Pouches it occurred to me as I was about to slide onto my belt that I had never written about a travel photo tool I almost always have with me … lens pouches.

I have no shortage of pouches, from unstructured Domke pouches to the rigid Newswear pouches, each with its own job and function for how I shoot and the equipment I use … but these pouches all have the same function … to eliminate bags and reduce my ‘personal profile’ while traveling and shooting (and yes there are time I do pack everything and the kitchen sink though).

Pouches are simple, you stick lenses in them, then place them on your belt.  Obviously sitting on a 70-200f2.8 on a flight would not be comfortable, so when I get to a flight I simply slide the pouches off, link them with a carabineer and clip them to the seat back pocket in front of me (or place them on the floor since I prefer a window and place them against the wall of the aircraft).

Using pouches on the road offers photographers another advantage, aside from carrying less baggage and reducing their ‘personal profile.’ Using pouches reduces your target likelihood in busy city streets.  With pouches on your waist there is no camera bag to catch the attention of would be thieves.

Should you catch the eye of a thief, pouches such as the Newswear pouches and Think Tank Skin pouches have a lot of Velcro under the flap, which makes opening them difficult. Even the most skilled pickpocket would catch your attention as they tried to open a pouch attached to your waist.

So … as you plan your kit for your next trip, consider some pouches for your belt … of attached to a dedicated pouch belt (Domke, Newswear and Think Tank all sell their own, I mix and match them somewhat often).

Below are three photos of two of my well worn Newswear Pouches.

Happy Flying!


  1. Awesome. Now I know what to get myself for Christmas! I’m going to have to try this out for hockey practices and games where I only want one camera but a second lens can come in handy from time to time.

  2. I’ve tried backpacks and shoulder bags and no matter what I always end up in a situation where I can’t get my stuff unless I put the bag down in a puddle or accidentally set it down in something nasty. I like the pouch+fanny pack idea especially because it lets me wear a backpack for real needs like a lunch and some water. Partly my fault for wanting to carry too much stuff but that’s how it goes.

    If the Newswear pouches aren’t padded, then there are cheaper alternatives for those of us who pinch every penny so we can save up or that L glass…though they are reasonable compared to other brands like Think Tank.

    I use belt pouches designed for holding Nalgene style water bottles. Similar design, similar materials, and lenses and bottles are of similar size. About a 1/3 the price.

  3. Steve,

    I have a question about how you deal with the lenses and the pouches while going through airport security. I understand that you typically carry one camera on each shoulder, then drop them in one of the provided plastic bins for screening. Do you also drop the lenses / pouch combo in the bin as well? Or just the lens leaving the pouch on your belt when you walk through the metal detector?

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