I’ve been looking for a camera bag for months, and I do mean months.Everything I’ve seen has either been too small, too large, too boxy, too sporty, too fancy, or too girly. Or, it’s everything I want but lacks a messenger-style strap. It’s been a trial, to say the least. Good camera bags are NOT cheap, and I refuse to pay hundreds of dollars (yes, really – they cost that much!) for a bag I don’t absolutely LOVE.
So, I gave up and started looking for a custom bag designer – someone who could construct EXACTLY what I wanted in function, while still making sure the form looked cool, too. I wanted something large, sturdy, and modern, that could make carrying 20-30 pounds of equipment (maybe more?) as comfortable and convenient as possible. And did I mention, it needed to match with everything?
Enter Mari Forssell.
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When I stumbled upon Mari’s Etsy shop, Stash, I fell in love. Here were the sleek, minimalist bags I’d been looking for! I sent her a list of something like 10 different things I’d need in a custom bag, and offered to pay whatever it would cost. (I figured I might scare her off, otherwise… It was a pretty intense list!) p.s. The bag turned out to be very reasonably priced.
Mari not only made a bag with EVERYTHING I wanted, but she was a dream to work with in the process, emailing me frequently and sending me sketches of the design in progress. And I definitely want to stress this:
Mari made my beautiful, extra-large, extra-detailed, custom-designed camera bag in LESS THAN ONE WEEK. I think it took her 3 or 4 days, actually. I was amazed at her excellent service, her speed, and – when the bag arrived – with her fantastic craftsmanship. This bag is SO nice. In the words of my bride from last weekend, “Wow… She’s SERIOUS.”
Even my husband was impressed.
So, here it is…
The bag is made of vintage gray herringbone wool, with leather snaps and strap. I think it’s so cute, without being too girly or fancy. The strap is 3″ wide and made of really supple black leather. My favorite pocketbook has a wide strap like that, and it feels so much better on my shoulders and the narrow straps some bags have. (I forgot to mention that I once won an award for the heaviest pocketbook. I’m definitely one of those people who likes to have EVERYTHING on hand, which means my bags get pretty heavy.)
The sides of the bag have pockets built specifically for my flashes, but they also work great for holding a water bottle.
Here’s a close up of the front buckles, which are awesome, because this way I don’t have obnoxious velcro sounds when I need to open and shut the bag during a wedding. Plus, I think they look pretty hip.
The inside of the bag has a removable section with 4 lens compartments, all wide enough for even my fatty 85/1.2L with hood or a camera body. They have adjustable velcro, and the whole compartment comes out for when you don’t want to carry camera gear. Behind all this, there is room for a laptop, folder, etc. AND she sewed thin pockets all around the edges of the interior, as well as below the front flap. They have been perfect for storing batteries, manuals, lens cleaning stuff, and the all important cybersync flash triggers.
I wanted that little hook on the right so that I’d have a reliable place to put my keys, but as it turns out, it’s perfect for my memory card wallet (I put my keys, iPod, phone etc, in a slim zipper pocket on the back of the bag).
I even love the label.
The bottom is the same soft leather as the strap, with a hard board inside to protect the gear. (I tend to be really rough with my stuff and slam bags down without thinking.) You can even see where the strap comes down through to the bottom of the bag, which shows you that the weight is supported the WHOLE way, not just where the strap attaches. (My husband pointed this out to me. He pays attention to that kind of thing and is really impressed with Mari’s construction.)
And you know the only thing better than a hip new camera bag?
A hip new camera bag WITH MATCHING iPOD CASE!
There’s even a grommet for the headphones to feed through.
I used the bag at an engagement shoot this weekend in Richmond. While my shoulders are sore from carrying all my heavy gear, the bag worked great. It was wonderful to have everything organized and within reach!
In case you’re curious… I was taking this shot. Meet Sarah and Bryan:
Mari, than you so much for making a bag I LOVE.
Photographers, definitely check out her shop!