In My Bag – by Mike Isler

Mike IslerMike Isler is a Florida native who’s been living in NYC for five years. His photography background is in adventure sports photography, and currently provides consulting services on photo and video productions. Aviation has been a passion of his from an early age, and led him to start pilot training at the age of 15. He is a fixed-wing pilot, and also an aerial coordinator and technician for helicopter-based photo and video projects. Technology is central to Mike’s skillset, and he brings the latest techniques and a fun spirit to his productions. He’s played an integral role on projects for National Geographic, Goldman Sachs, Cosmopolitan, Accenture, Wired, Condé Nast, the band Evanescence, and many others.

As a freelance photo assistant, digital technician, aerial specialist and video AC, I’ve developed a toolkit that keeps my essentials close at hand and serves a variety of needs. I’ve based my bag around a hip pack, the LowePro Orion Waist Pack. I got this bag for free at the Rich Clarkson Sports Photography Workshop in 2002, and it’s been a great bag. Unfortunately my exact one has since been discontinued, but any similar size bag would be suitable. While a “fanny pack” may not be the most fashionable item, it can be very useful to have access to the contents of the bag without setting the bag down or having it interfere with work.

hip pack

Hip packs are great when working on beaches, city streets, or any area where setting a bag down might slow down the work or put the equipment close to harm’s way. One can keep a few lenses in the pack, in addition to all sorts of equipment in its pockets or on the belt. The belt serves as a great place to store things like Multi-tools and light meters (more about that later), keeping the main pocket free for camera equipment.

The jobs I work range from product still life to architecture, fashion to music videos…as well as a few hundred hours in the back of helicopters all over the country and abroad. While every job and client is different, I’ve adapted my tools to be as universal as possible.

Here’s a rundown of all of the odds and ends I travel with on a daily basis:

The Bag: LowePro Orion Waist Pack (discontinued)


outside bag

outside bag



front pocket


main pocket

main pocket


inside lid

Sometimes carry

  • -Soldering case
  • -Digi tech kit
  • – USB extensions and spares
  • – FW400, FW800 and FW400-800 cables
  • – Cat5
  • – SATA / USB drive dock
  • – Blank DVDs
  • – DVI and HDMI cables
  • – Gaff
  • – Power strip
  • – Heli kit
  • – Full body harnesses
  • – Personal adjustable tethers
  • – Carabiners and equipment safeties
  • – Communications equipment and cables
  • – Headsets

hip pack

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