What’s inside my camera bag?

So I’m one of those people who is always curious to see random behind the scenes things about people’s lives like, what’s in her grocery cart or how are her cabinets organized at home or what does she carry in her purse or carry on a plane?

(Tell me if that’s weird. Is that weird?)

Well weird or not, I thought since I’m so nosy I should return the favor and maybe you would enjoy seeing a little behind the scenes glimpse of what’s going on inside one of my most prized possessions–my camera bag!


If you’ve been a client, I’m sure you’ve seen it. That big pink backpack I’m always hauling around throughout my senior sessions. Just what all is going on in there and why do I carry it around?

And even though a lot of things in it are obviously cameras and lenses, you may not have known that some of the things I have in there are  just for my clients. I’m not kidding when I say that I want to take good care of you at your session. 

This also might interest you if you’re an aspiring portrait photographer and you would like to see what to pack in a camera bag before a session. I’ll break down the things I pretty much always carry with me and what their value is to me at a portrait session. (Side note: if you’re wondering if you want a backpack style camera bag, the answer is YES!)


So now let’s get to it and find out what is in my camera bag!


Main camera body and a backup camera body

I thought we should start with the obvious, right? Inside my bag is my Nikon D610 camera body. This is my pro camera, my baby. I think its purpose is pretty clear. I also recently acquired a used Nikon D7000 from a friend who gave me a great deal. Even though it’s not a full frame camera, it is compatible with my Nikon lenses so I bought it to have around as a backup just in case.



First up, my 50mm lens.  This is my absolute FAVORITE lens for all portrait sessions, period! It’s so versatile and I can typically get as close or as far away from my subject as I need to capture the photo I’m wanting. If I could never use another lens in my life but one, it would be my 50mm all the way. 

But….sometimes I do need a little bit of a wider angle. So that’s why I also carry my 35mm lens in my bag. I honestly don’t use it that much for senior sessions, mostly because I hate having to change lenses, but I have found that in certain situations, like city streets with tall buildings, I need the 35mm to get just that wider shot to truly capture the right feel of the portrait. It’s also nice if you want a wide angle shot of surroundings to add variety to the gallery of images.


External flash

This is another thing that I typically don’t need for senior sessions because I choose locations that have amazing natural light and I shoot at golden hour. But, every so often if I’m shooting inside a building or there’s some other unexpected lighting, I like to have the external flash. If I do use it, I set it where it will be indirect and produce a light that looks as diffused and natural as possible so that your photos will match my usual light and bright style.


The bag inside the bag

First off, is this not the cutest little pink polka dot bag? I like it because it fits so well inside the big bag and helps corral some of the smaller things I need that don’t stay contained on their own. Plus I love to be organized! (nerd alert) In this bag I have some essentials like an extra camera battery, flash batteries and extra SD cards. Also a microfiber lens wipe and a few business cards. The necessary, boring stuff.

But, if you’re a client, here’s what I also carry around in the bag that you might need–emergency supplies!

I have safety pins for whatever wardrobe malfunctions rear their ugly head, oil blotting sheets for those surprise shiny skin moments and Instant Stain Remover Wipes for those uh-oh stains that could really ruin your outfit. My goal is to be prepared for anything to make sure your session runs smoothly and as stress free as possible. We don’t need any fixable crisis cramping your style! 


The blue scarf

You may notice the blue scarf wrapped up in the bag and wonder if it’s because I get cold. (probably not, because when I get going at a session I’m so excited and running around that I’m usually hot!) I actually have this to use as a foreground element in portraits. I don’t always have this particular scarf. Based on what style the session is, I will often bring along some small piece of fabric or cloth to use as an artistic element in your photos. This scarf is pretty thin so I brought it along to place partially in front of my lens to create a unique effect. I love doing things like that in portraits!


The other thing that doesn’t fit in my bag (but I carry around)

There’s one more essential thing I carry with me at senior sessions but unfortunately it doesn’t fit in my bag. That is my collapsible reflector. If I’m shooting in an area with a lot of color tones reflecting on my client’s skin, the reflector really helps neutralize things so I’m not stuck with an editing nightmare. And even if I have good neutral light reflecting on my client, the white reflector really takes it to the next level.  


So there you have it! That’s what I haul around in my camera bag at all my sessions. I also have a checklist made of everything that goes in my bag and that I need to bring with me. I go through the list when I’m packing for every individual session to make sure I don’t miss anything.

I hope you found this interesting and/or helpful to know! If you would like to know more about what to expect at a session with me check out my blog post about it here: What is a senior session with Cheryl Jackson Photography like?


Want to learn more about becoming a CJ Senior? 

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