What Else Do They Pack? A Peek Inside Three Pros’ Gadget Bags Reveals More Than Photo Gear

Golfers have it easy. United States Golf Association (USGA) rules limit players to one bag and 14 clubs. It's a different story when photographers pack their gear, however. Photographers are limited only by how much they can lift. Different equipment for different assignments, to be sure--but when we started peeking into the bags that professionals carry, we learned more about their personalities than their camera gear.

© 2004, John Isaac, All Rights Reserved

John Isaac
John Isaac's work as a photojournalist has taken him all over the world and garnered numerous awards, including Photographer of the Year in 1993 from the PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Photographic Council. Best known, perhaps, for his images of animals in the wild, as well as his touching photographs of children in their challenging and sometimes threatening surroundings, Isaac worked nearly 30 years in the Photo Unit at the United Nations (UN). Number one item Isaac packs when he prepares his gear for a photo assignment?

"I have an iPod and a portable speaker system," he explained, "for listening to music. Besides the normal photo equipment, I carry some of my favorite DVDs and a short-wave radio."

It shouldn't come as a surprise that music-playing accessories are a high priority. Isaac originally came to the US to pursue a career in music, and it was his musical talent that helped launch his career at the UN.

© 2004, Jim Spruill, All Rights Reserved

"I landed at JFK airport in 1968 with about 75 cents in my pocket and a guitar," he told us. He worked as a folk singer and street musician until his voice attracted the attention of a UN employee.

"The UN needed a baritone in their choir. I was hired to work as a messenger in the mailroom. I got my work visa, and was promoted a few months later." A short time after that, Isaac was transferred to the Photo Unit.

Were his singing talents a fluke? No way. Isaac's vocal ability even caught the attention of Ted Mack, and in 1970 he appeared on The Original Amateur Hour.

In 1978 Isaac won first prize in the photokina International Photo Contest held in Cologne, Germany, and his career kicked into high gear. The UN sent him to Lebanon to cover the military conflict--the first of many assignments that placed him in harm's way. In 1998 he left the UN but still travels extensively. Does he still sing?

"I do," he told us. "And I've started painting again." Knowing Isaac, that means he'll soon be packing an extra gadget bag--one to carry his easel and palette.

Michael Baz
Photographer Michael Baz packs a full complement of camera equipment when on assignment, but only a minimum amount of non-photo gear. Even so, he's ready for just about any situation that may arise.

"Two big garbage bags," he told us, "for rain protection. Those are very important."

© 2004, Michael Baz, All Rights Reserved

Baz's photographic specialty is professional tennis, and he has a long list of accomplishments that go back to 1977. He's been the official photographer for dozens of tennis events held in exciting venues that range from Bangkok to Key Biscayne, and has an impressive collection of corporate clients including Rolex USA, Nike USA, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and American Express. In addition, he's the official photographer for the three major sports management companies that represent tennis players worldwide: IMG, Octagon, and SFX Sports.

What other items will you find in his gadget bag?