The Magic Frame: What’s In The Bag Part Three



This is part three of four in this series. Why four parts, you may ask.

Photography is a strange craft. Unless you are doing very casual stuff, then you have to plan your lenses, and plan your bag accordingly.

You may also wonder why I have one bag and one camera, with no spare lens in the photograph above. Quite simple. This is what I use when I am doing street photography. The gear you use, drives your photography, and it reflects your approach to photography.

When I started in street photography, I used to hide behind poles, and generally shoot with a long telephoto lens. This, I still do from time to time. However, in those days, when someone would look at me, my knees would wobble, and I would quickly look away. Additionally, I thought that it was somewhat glamorous to be changing lenses all the time. It made me feel important. I was quite the chick-magnet, I thought.

However, when you are shooting people in the street, you are essentially shooting strangers, and you are participating in a slice of their lives. When you do this, it is good to make eye contact and smile. In doing so, you give them respect. This is essential. I often chat with the people that I shoot. It is fun, enjoyable. It makes me feel a part of their lives, and less like an interloper.

The other reasons I use a “go-to” lens like the 28-300 mm that I have on the D810, or the 28-200 on the D 200, is that I do not have to change lenses. Not only do I not miss any action, I prevent dust from going into the sensor.

Street photography is about people. It is about participating in humanity. You can capture raw emotion, and this is something to do when you are part of the action. We are not thieves in the night, who snatch a photo. We are participants in this mad thing called “LIFE”. We are part of it, and street photographers need to recognise and remember this.


The times that I do use a second lens, is when I am on the street at night. Irrespective of whether I am using the D200 or the D 810, I will carry a 50 mm lens. The 1.4 aperture allows me to use a lower ISO, and helps in less problems with noise reduction. The one reason why I do like the D200, is that it is a lighter camera than the D810, and this is great for street work. The D810 is very heavy and you can end up with some rather sad shots, because of shake.

The 50 mm lens also means that I move to the subject. It forces you to compose and see differently.

In these cases, I use a sling bag, like the Lowepro above. The swing action makes it easier to change the lens, as I can swing the bag to the front of the body.

So, there you have it. A different set of bags for street photography!


  1. Hi Rajiv. I use a swing bag too when I am shooting outside. It’s so convenient. But I still need to overcome my fear of shooting strangers. I suppose it just comes with practice and being brave enough to make eye contact. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Well, I am not that comfy approaching people in Europe and in the USA. In places like Switzerland and Germany, the faces are much colder and less welcoming
      It can happen in India as well, so you need to be careful. I am planning a year long late evening/ night street photography project next year in the same place I did the last street one. It may be more dangerous in parts, so let’s see how it goes.
      Once, however, when a man liked the picture I took of him, he was so happy that he grabbed my hand and kissed it

  2. Visiting India where people are much less phased by me approaching them in the street, is where I learned to be less trepidatious about street photography and now I have more confidence to shoot in the UK. I almost always ask if I want a portrait, though sometimes when you don’t want to miss a shot I will shoot first, and if seen will ask afterwards. If people say no, which isn’t very often, I just smile and walk away.

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