In the camera bag of… Daimon Xanthopoulos!
In our special “In the camera bag of…” Panasonic LUMIX Ambassadors tell about their camera bag and what items they bring to a shoot. They also share their memories of their best or worst photo trip en are very blunt about their mistakes. This time documentary photographer and filmmaker Daimon Xanthopoulos shows us what’s in his bag.
What type of camera bag do you use and why?
“I use two types of bags. The bag I use the most is the leather bag you see on this page. This bag is specially handmade CRAVAR. The bag is finished beautifully with my initials. I love nice bags and like it when they’re not typical camera bags. Leather is ideal because I travel a lot. It’s very strong and sustainable. The bag has a simple sleeve and there is plenty of room in it, even my laptop fits. The bag can be opened with one hand – that’s important to me. My second bag is the Domke F2. I only carry this bag with me when I need more equipment, for example when I’m also making a video. In this bag my GH4R fits easily, together with a set of lenses. There is even room for two spare cameras. The leather bag is my favourite though, that’s the one I use the most.”
What do you take with you on a shoot?
“I have a cleaning cloth under every lens. You can’t bring enough of cleaning cloths! I don’t use lens caps on the front of the lenses, so a soft cloth comes in handy. I always pick the right camera for the right assignment. If I go on a photo trip, I’ll bring my two Panasonic GX8 cameras. When I’m filming, I use the GH4R with a Panasonic GX80 or even a Panasonic X1000. In that case I usually also carry microphones and a tripod with me.
I always carry a watertight SD/CF cardholder and an external hard disc with all the photo’s as back-up. I keep a similar hard disc in the hotel as back-up. I also bring a lithium battery, so I can charge my Smartphone as well as my GX cameras when I’m in the field.
And off course I also bring pens, paper and a press card. Although most of the time I carry these items in my jacket, not in my bag. And last but not least I also always bring a ND filter. When I’m in Africa, I use this filter when I want to photograph in the sun with an open diaphragm.”
Is that one of the advantages of a compact camera, that you can travel light(er)?
“Working with a light and compact camera system means two things. One: I can bring a lot of different lenses without compromising my back. So besides my normal lenses I can bring a Panasonic 7-14mm (35mm equivalent 14-28mm) and a Panasonic Vario X 45-175 in the front pockets of my leather bag. With all these lenses I can decide in the field which lens I want to use. So I can remain flexible as a photographer. Two: I can work very compact. Especially when I choose to work with a Panasonic GX80 or a GM5: in that case I don’t even need a camera bag. All the lenses are in my pocket then, so I can remain invisible and mobile.”
.Did you ever forget your bag, camera or something important you really needed with a shoot?
“I never forget my bag. I did got robbed, in Detroit I was threatened with a gun to my head. I had to give up my camera. I did have a spare camera in the hotel and next day I went out to buy a new one. In the past I once forgot to put a SD card in the camera. I only realised when I started to photograph. Nowadays I’m really in to using and bringing back-ups. I always have four extra SD cards in my wallet. I thinks it’s important to be prepared: prepare for things breaking down and things going wrong, especially when you’re travelling. I always bring extra cables, plugs, power stations and so on with me. It’s my responsibility to do the job as best as I can and that’s why I bring different kinds of back-ups. I even bring a back-up system for my laptop. It helps when the equipment is not too big.”
Can you think of a moment everything went wrong or the opposite: everything came together during a photo trip?
“A while ago I made a documentary about the Walpurgis, the night of the witches, in a very idyllic village. While I was looking for a pretty overlook on the village in the evening light, a giant deer came into my frame. A perfect combination of what I was looking for, plus something extra. The next day I went to an event but didn’t really like it. I gambled and decided to walk through the mountains, to look for other celebrations of Walpurgis. I stumbled in to a group of pagans, they were celebrating Walpurgis in a very special way. I believe you need a bit of luck to find the right light, people and place. But it’s also very important to push yourself to keep searching for the image you’re looking for. I could have made the night photo in ten minutes and stay in the village. But then it would have been a completely different story.”
Do you have tips/pointers for our readers for items they shouldn’t forget on a shoot/ photo trip? And more in general, any advice for our readers?
“Apart from your camera, of course! I think it’s important to know your camera. Know what it’s capable of, so you can use its full potential. Even though I’m working with Panasonic for years, I still discover new features. For example the new Panasonic GX80 that has a very effective stabiliser.
It makes it possible to shoot out of hand until a full second without a tripod. That knowledge gives me new photographic opportunities.
It also helps to bring different lenses. It gives a documentary different angles and it makes the photographs exciting to watch. But the most important pointer is a bit obvious. Make sure you always search for an even better image. The story is never truly done, so keep pushing yourself to get the best image. It makes your work better and helps you getting noticed.”
Take your time and get to know you camera. There are so many helpful features you can use. It is probably the best to test everything a little bit before you take the camera on a shoot.
Use a wide range of lenses. The camera is your foundation you can build on. Now you can use different lenses to get different perspectives and angles for your images.