In My Bag – by Joe Ahlquist

Joe AhlquistJoe Ahlquist is an ambitious, young, photographer about to graduate from Winona State University in Winona, Minn., with a B.A. in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Photojournalism. He works part-time at the Winona Daily News, a small circulation daily newspaper in southeastern Minnesota and his work has been published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, The Wisconsin State Journal, The La Crosse Tribune, and on many online news photo galleries. When Joe’s not working he is doing homework, spending entirely too much time watching T.V. shows on Netflix, taking photos of other random happenings in his life, hanging out with friends, or spending time with his girlfriend. He also enjoys hunting, fishing, and just being outdoors.

As a college student about to graduate, working part-time at a small daily newspaper, and trying to figure out what gear I needed to have, I found that getting a look at what other photographers were using was very helpful. When I saw that The Photo Brigade was looking for someone to do this weeks “In My Bag” column I figured I’d give it a go. It seemed like a good way to show other P.J. students what someone in their shoes carries.

cameras and lenses

Working part-time at a small daily newspaper I cover a pretty big variety of assignments. On an average day I could be shooting anything; portraits, prep sports, feature assignments, or weather features (lately lots of snowy weather features).

As a young photojournalist I’ve been saving, buying, selling, and trying to figure out exactly what I needed to make photos efficiently and the way I like. When I first got into photography I felt that big, expensive, zoom lenses were what you needed to be a working photojournalist.

As soon as I started actually working as a photographer I realized that wasn’t always the case. I realized pretty quickly that those big, expensive, zooms were just that, big, awkward, and heavy, oh and expensive. These lenses definitely have their place though.

My 80-200 is one of my favorite lenses and I use on just about every assignment. I do occasionally use one of the paper’s 24-70s (mostly for sports), and I use their 17-35 from time-to-time as well.

So, what do I use then? I’ve been a really big fan of the Nikon primes. They’re light, unobtrusive, and pretty inexpensive. That last part is pretty important for me right now, because I’m a broke college student.

bag contents


Nikon D300 w/ MB-d10 Battery Grip
Nikon D90 (used to take the photo)
Nikon 24mm f/2.8 (used to take the photo)
Nikon 35mm f/1.8 (On D300, this is an awesome lens by the way. If you’re shooting a DX Nikon body I highly recommend it. Also, it works pretty well on a full frame, if you can deal with a – fair amount of vignetting.)
Nikon 50mm f/1.8
Nikon 80-200 f/2.8
Nikon SB-700 w/ dome diffuser (doesn’t leave the bag much)
Extra body cap and lens mount cap
Dust blower
– 4 reporter’s notebooks
Ice Breakers Mints (you’ve got to keep the breath fresh for those interviews!)
Extra EN-EL3e battery
– 2 grocery bags (in case I get caught in the rain while on assignment)
– Extra pens
Flash drive
– Extra 8 GB CF card
– Extra 4 GB SD card
– Gels for SB-700 (I’m not sure if I’ve ever used these)
Assorted microfiber cloths
Flash light
– Random cords
– Extra batteries
Card reader
Gerber multi-purpose tool
MacBook w/ all the necessary programs to tone photos
MacBook laptop charger
iPhone 4
– Cheap light stand (pretty much is always in the trunk of my car)
– Cheap 24” soft box (always with the light stand)

Some gear I use from the paper I work for includes:

Nikon D3s
Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8
Nikon 300mm f/2.8
– And very rarely a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8

Lowepro Bag

All of this gear fits into my Lowepro Fastpack 250. I was using a National Geographic NG A2560 Africa Series Medium Satchel, but I was filling it with too much stuff, and my back/shoulders were paying the price. The backpack is much more forgiving. At the end of the day though, I believe that any photographer should be able to make compelling images with just about anything, so don’t get too hung up on the next cool lens or body.

National Geographic bag

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