Go! Bag


(photo by Dani Machlis)

It’s a quiet day at the office. You’re catching up on archiving…maybe judging the MIC…Or chuckling at the latest comedy gem at the end of a UPAA blog article…

When suddenly your phone buzzes and it’s the boss’ boss’ boss’ boss: “Hey, get to the president’s office 5 minutes ago, the governor just dropped in for a visit and we want a photo.”

You throw on a jacket and grab the bag you always have at the ready for calls like these. 

What’s in it?

Call it your “GO” bag, your “daily driver,” your everyday kit…whatever it might be, there are probably certain camera bodies and lenses you keep most convenient most of the time. Several UPAA members show us their most common tools of the trade:

Ken Bennett, Wake Forest University:

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There is no typical day and really no "go bag" in my car. I have a ton of gear, it's usually at the office but sometimes in my truck, and I choose the specific items I need for any given assignment.

So, that said, here is the basic kit I carry around on campus for general use. Event coverage, classroom stuff, candid people, the "walk around" kit. I think it's pretty much the standard photo-j kit, but with Fuji gear. 

Here's the contents:

•Think Tank Urban Disguise 40, the original one, with a Tom Bihn Absolute Shoulder Strap 

•Fuji XT2 w/vertical grip, two of these

•Fuji 16-55/2.8 and 50-140/2.8

•Fuji X Pro 2 with 35/1.4

•Fuji 16/1.4 and 56/1.2

•Godox TTL flash

•Extra batteries and cards

•Reporter's notebook, pens, headlamp

I sometimes add the Fuji 10-24mm f/4 lens. 

Katherine Seghers, The Ohio State University:


I shoot with a 5D MIII and usually have the 24 – 105 f4 lens on it.  But I keep a 50mm f1.4 in my bag all of the time in case I need a faster lens.  The 85mm f1.4 is my go-to for headshots so it is in my bag a lot of the time.  I also don’t leave the office without a flash just in case.  I try to be minimal and keep the bag as light as possible but still bring enough gear to cover the random requests we get.

Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame


Here’s what I have on me for a garden-variety day on campus:

•Nikon D5

•24-70 f2.8

•70-200 f2.8

Plus sundries like gaffer tape, a speedlight I might use twice a year at most, a mini tripod and a cable release.

Those all live in a 25-ish year-old Tamrac shoulder bag that I’m fanatic about. Seems most shoulder bags these days are too deep and a good bit of space is devoted to having a laptop or tablet on board. I carry my laptop in a separate but almost-as-ancient sling bag so I can cross the straps and have the weight more evenly distributed. The Tamrac bag is shallow enough to work out of easily and has minimal padding to allow the bag to flex around me a bit and make going through doors a bit easier.

When needed I can bungee these two bags on top of a rolling light case but these days a combo of aesthetic preferences, better artificial light, better cameras…oh yeah, and laziness…has me doing less location lighting.

Maggie Bean, Marquette University

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This is a photo of my go-to game cart. It was ready for a basketball game, I know that folder is a little overwhelming in the pic but it’s the photo assignment stickers for spots that night.  

I use a cart now because it can hold way more than one bag or backpack can alone.  The rolling cart saves my back from holding too much and plus it's closer to the ground so things can't fall and break as easy as they seem to do when I carry multiple bags and backpacks from event to event.

Cydney Scott, Boston University

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This shot is of my gear in my trunk.

I use a ThinkTank belt pack because it seems to be easier on my back and shoulders than other options. I always only use one camera body, and switch lenses between a 70-200, 28-70, and a 16-35. I also carry a speedlight with me and sometimes an 85mm. Also spare batteries, a notebook because I don’t trust the recording device in the camera, and some glucose for any lows I might have (I’m Type 1 Diabetic).

I use a net in the trunk of my car to hold my camera and keep it from rolling around. Under the camera is a thick piece of soft foam to also help keep it protected.

Dani Machlis, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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Here's a typical haul for a location shoot without an assistant:

•Nikon D5

•24-70 2.8

•70-200 2.8

•50 1.4

•2 cheap compact light stands

•2 Godox AD200

•2 umbrella mounts for AD200

•1 Godox v860 or Nikon SB910

•1 small (48cm) collapsible  Octabox/Softbox with diffuser and grid

•1 umbrella softbox

•1 Godox X1 Transmitter

•Gels and clamps

Dani 02A.JPG

All of the above magically fits in to a Lowe Pro Rolling Case  - not sure the exact model number but I have traveled overseas with it and it fits in the overhead bin


I'd tell you a chemistry joke but I know I wouldn't get a reaction.” Send your story ideas, critiques, jokes, or $20 bills to editor Matt Cashore, mcashore@nd.edu