Your Choice: Photo Vest vs Camera Bag

by | Nov 23, 2021

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

I’ve worn photo vests for many years and have watched them evolve from a convenient way to add a few extra pockets for film/memory cards, lens caps and filters into wearable camera bags, which may be why some but not all camera bag manufacturers also make photo vests. Photo vests are a great choice when shooting motorsports and beats carrying a heavy camera bag or wearing a heavy back pack at trackside.

To help you make a fashionable choice for your next—or first—vest, here’s a checklist of of questions you should ask yourself when shopping:

Functionality: What kind of photographs do you make? How much gear do you typically carry? Based on the different types of shoots that you do, you may need more than one vest.

Fit: Is it tailored to size or are there adjustment belts or tabs for a one-size-fits-all design? Some vests are an adjustable while others use small, medium, large sizes that seem aimed at clothing sizes. Make sure the fit is comfortable too; so be sure try it one before buying.

Construction: Is it well made? Are there buttons, zippers, Velcro? Which are the easiest for you to use in a given photographic situation. Look at other elements such as the strength and durability of zippers or pulls and then examine details such as stitching. One of the biggest changes in vest design over the years is increased use of mesh to keep you cool.

Style: You don’t have to be Ralph Lauren to know that an event photographer needs a vest that looks different from one a nature photographer might use. You need something that blends in at either situation, which is why vests are available in different designs and colors.

Price: This last factor should matter least in the decision process, since a well-made vest will last you a really long time and the price is quickly amortized over a number of wearings or assignments. An inexpensive Banana Republic vest that Mary bought me more than thirty years ago is still serviceable and I still wear it from time to time because it comfortably fits under a shell parka.

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