Anyone reading Unorganized Territory for the first time last week may have been puzzled that I spent editorial column inches to extol the virtues of my camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag. But regular readers know that they never know what they will find when they start reading.
Unorganized Territory is an unorganized corner of the paper where for 14 years I’ve had the privilege to share random thoughts on the people and places of Cook County, on my friends and family, on local and sometimes national politics and sometimes on something utterly silly, like how grateful I am to have found the perfect camera bag.
However, I thought I should add the true reason that my camera bag was the first thing that came to my mind when I sat down to write Unorganized Territory last week. It was one of those “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” situations.
You see, my wonderful Kelly Moore camera bag broke last week. I was devastated. I was hurrying to work and when I grabbed ahold of the sturdy long leather strap to toss it over my shoulder, messenger style—it came loose. There I was with my 32-pound bag, dangling lopsided onto the floor.
I know it is incredibly silly to get attached to inanimate objects, but I almost cried. I had hoped that my camera bag would last for years and years. The thought of having to start the search for a new camera bag all over again was almost too much to bear on an already overscheduled day.
Fortunately, my dear husband Chuck was right there to see the strap failure. He took the bag away from me and investigated as I stood by trying to decide whether to kick something or cry. As I imagined the hassle of temporarily transferring all my belongings into another bag or somehow rigging the handle back on with duct tape and carabiners, he calmly looked at where the strap came apart.
To my delight, he said, “It’s fixable.” All we needed, he said was a tiny little c-clip thing.
Normally in our couple dynamic, I am the calm one and Chuck is the over reactor. There was a bit of role reversal here as I immediately assumed we would have to order the piece or make a trek to Duluth. Not to worry, Chuck said. They probably have it at Buck’s Hardware!
We headed to Buck’s, me carrying my heavy brown bag like a football, to a shelf with a miraculous assortment of the tiniest little metal bits and pieces you have ever seen. And there, lo and behold, was the part that was needed. And it only cost 32 cents!
I happily paid for the part and Chuck squeezed the clip in place and my bag was once again good as new. And appreciated more than ever.
If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared.
Regular readers of Unorganized Territory have likely heard me complain about technology and the unnatural ability of all electronic devices to fail at the worst possible time. You’ve heard me whine about Windows 8 and rant about my recent laptop hard drive crash. And you’ve listened to me try to change the grammatical rule that now says Internet must be spelled with a capital “I.”
However, this week I have something nice to say about technology. I actually enjoy using the Internet sometimes. Search engines are wonderful tools for finding something in minutes that may take hours in some other way. I am reminded of this just about every time I sling my camera bag over my shoulder and head off somewhere to take pictures.
Because, I used the power of the Internet (with a capital “I”) to find what is, for me, the perfect bag. Sick of the options for camera bags—black leather or canvas, with clunky pockets on a four-sided bag with a plain black strap announcing your camera brand—I turned to the Internet to try to find something different. I entered a few phrases to find a camera bag that I liked.
I tried woman’s camera bag, lady’s camera bag, purse camera bag, with no success. Then I thought I’d enter exactly what I was looking for. In the little Google search box, I typed: a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag.
Voila! A list of websites selling camera bags in variety of shapes, colors and sizes appeared. The website that caught my eye was that of Kelly Moore, whose website said exactly what I was thinking. Moore, a photographer for 15 years, always took her camera with her wherever she went. But she didn’t like leaving her house with a purse and a bulky, black, and unattractive camera bag. When she had children a huge diaper bag was added to the list. On her website, she asked what I was asking—Was it too much to ask for one bag that could do all these things?
Kelly Moore had also searched and had the same problem I had been having before I found her website. So, this enterprising woman set out to design her own bag. According to her website, in December 2009, after years of dreaming, sketching and planning she launched her business and began taking preorders for the first style of Kelly Moore Bags. In January 2010, she began shipping the bags from her garage. Since then her company has added 12 styles in over 50 colors and offers bags for professional photographers, students, bags that carry laptops, iPads, baby gear and more.
Her bags are not cheap. I paid more for the walnuttoned Hobo bag than I have ever paid for a purse or a camera bag before. But her pitch was so good. The photos on her page were so appealing; the video explanations of how your camera and lenses could fit in the Hobo bag so clear, that I had to order it.
And I have been incredibly happy with my Hobo bag. I’ve used it and abused it for nearly two years now, plopping it down on the ground in all kinds of weather. I’ve dumped it off my car seat numerous times and spilled coffee on it over and over. It has held up well.
It truly is a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag. It looks like a big, leather purse. You can’t tell by looking at it that it holds my Canon Rebel, my 75-300mm long lens, a pouch with extra camera cards and battery, all safely held in place by padded partitions. It also holds my wallet, a dozen pens, a reporter’s notebook, a spare pair of gloves, my cell phone, tissues, Chapstick, gum, and all the other odds and ends that fill a purse or bag.
You also can’t tell by looking at it how heavy it is. And one of its best features is that you can’t tell how heavy it is when carrying it. With its extra-long cross-body handle I sling it over my shoulder like a messenger bag and it rests exactly where it should, low on the hip, taking the pressure off my shoulder.
At a recent doctor’s appointment, I handed my Hobo to the nurse who was weighing me. She said, “Whoa! This thing is heavy.” She weighed it to see what I was lugging around. My Hobo bag with all my camera accoutrements weighed a hefty 32 pounds. She was concerned that I was carrying too much weight around. I assured her I was not.
The bag, thanks to the talented Kelly Moore, is just right. And, I must grudgingly acknowledge the part the Internet played in finding the perfect camera bag for me. I give her bag a capital “A.”
So maybe the Internet does deserve a capital “I” after all.
Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.