By YOO MI CHIN Contributing Reporter
Wedding photographer Jessica Claire always thought traditional black camera bags were too big to lug around town and too boring to fit with her image as an artist. So one day she reached into her closet and instead of pulling out her camera bag, she chose her favorite Prada and stuffed it with her gear.
It was certainly fashionable, but it wasn’t designed to protect her $2,000 lens and other expensive equipment. She needed something practical, too.
She teamed up with her friend, Keats Elliott, a Southern California freelance photographer, but not for a photo shoot. They launched their Marina del Rey company, Shootsac, in January 2007 to make camera bags for the fashion conscious. They quickly discovered there was demand: They did $1 million in sales their first year.
They attribute their success to creating something attractive yet functional.
“I began to picture a lens storage bag that would help me move quicker when changing lenses,” Claire said. “Instead of having to worry about the equipment, I wanted to let the photographers like me to solely focus on their job.”
But above all, the bags draw the focus of female photographers who care about fashion.
“It’s what a girl needs to work,” Elliott said. “It’s a woman’s natural instinct to personalize and add beauty to things.”
The bags aren’t cheap. They sell for $179 through the Shootsac Web site and New York City-based photo retailer Adorama Camera. They feature protective pockets to keep lenses safe, and wetsuit-grade neoprene to protect cameras from water and heat.
“The neoprene cover is much more sturdy and durable outside than any other material, while it’s really soft inside,” Claire said. “That prevents lenses from being damaged or getting scratches.”
“It’s very functional and versatile,” said Marisa Holmes, an L.A. wedding photographer who bought a Shootsac bag last year. “It’s better than carrying a traditional bulky camera bag.”