Winter in the flathead valley is dark, and in our little house at times it can feel like it was never actually daytime. This past weekend was a welcome respite from the melancholy, with small and beautiful moments of sunlight warming the ice and snow, making the world feel a little more alive.
Skye and Glencoe felt like walking onto the set of movie, or a book you read as a kid. After an amazing drive, we arrived at the Clachaig Inn, then we walked up to the Queens Cairn, the place where Queen Victoria used to sit and paint “the three sisters”. Later, sitting in the pub, listening to the accents, and drinking ale and scotch, I couldn’t believe this place could be any more storybook. The next day I was proven wrong, as we boarded the Jacobite Express, a steam train that travels the route used in the Harry Potter movies. We all took turns as the train crossed the viaduct leaning out the window and grabbing images, soot landing in our hair and eyes. We sat in our train car, listening to a little girl across from us practice spells. “Wingardium Leviosa!” she yelled! twirling her wand, as her older sister chided her, correcting the pronunciation. The next few days, we traveled across the Isle, visiting castles, and hiking the Stoor, one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. We only shot film on this trip, usually with my Leica M2, on Kodak Portra film.
We were so lucky to tag along on this shoot with Orange Photographie, shooting for Stewart & Christie. They make the most beautiful Bespoke Tweed. Had so much fun working with Vixie, and loved the looks and feel she put together. Our models, Fred the worlds best looking geologist, and Olivia and Issac (who coincidentally are the possible names of my future children) were amazing, and even though it was raining and cold, made our job as photographers easy. We shot both in, and outside of Borthwick castle, which was basically fulfilling bucket list items I didn’t even know I had.
If you are ever in Edinburgh, visit their shop, its wonderful, and check them out online here: http://www.stewartchristie.com
Part one of a who knows how many Scotland images. We flew into London, hopped on a couple trains to get across town, then took a quick cheap flight to Edinburgh (yay Ryanair!). From there we got picked up with our friends Sam and Reid of Orange Photographie. They had been in Scotland and England for several weeks, and Sam was already driving the wrong way like a pro. Our first few days in Scotland we stayed in Kilmarnock, a beautiful town about an hour from Edinburgh. From there we set out each day to check out Castles, the Royal mile, and the Wallace Monument. One of the best nights was spent at an Irish Pub in Glasgow, which unfortunately (or fortunately?) I have no images from. Honestly the one thing I continue to miss now that we are back is pub food, so amazingly good and comforting.
It seems to be a universal fact that photographers, in addition to constantly changing gear and cameras, are always, seemingly without end, in pursuit of the perfect bag. I’m the worst when it comes to this, and have owned almost every type, brand, size, and look out there. I’m also extremely hard on my gear, clothes, and bags, which I think makes me a pretty great person to put a bag through its paces.
I first stumbled across the Roamographer bag though the Holdfast Instagram, having a faithful user of the Moneymaker camera harness for the past several years. I always loved the look and feel of the Moneymaker, and every wedding it gets a fare share of complements, and my back has never felt better after a 12 hour wedding day. The idea of a beautiful leather bag, with the same level of craftsmanship, and detail put into it, sounded wonderful.
To be honest, I’m more of a leather accent person, usually preferring the look of canvas, or tin cloth, so that was something that took me awhile to warm up to. The thing that really made me lean in the direction of the Roamographer was the design of the insert. I shoot medium format and 35mm film, and digital, so my kit tends to me a little more complicated than just a couple bodies and lenses. My main medium format camera is the Pentax 6x7, and I regularly use both the 75mm 2.8 al, and 105mm 2.4. This alone makes finding a bag that fits hard. Most modern bags are designed with full frame digital in mind, and the Pentax has an odd shape when used with a prism for most of these bags. Its also heavy, like really heavy, so it was important that the bag could carry it comfortably, while still wearing well over time with that kind of weight. Also, something that takes up a ton of space when traveling is film, another thing that most bags don’t really have a place for. On top of all that, I still wanted to be able to bring my leica M3, and sometimes a digital mirrorless. Its a lot to ask from one bag.
Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed. Once the bag came, I was able to use it at several weddings, a huge styled shoot at Paws Up Ranch, and last but not least, took it to Scotland and England this fall. In addition to its looks, the bag has a wonderful feel. The leather breaks in beautifully and is comfortable against your hip when carried, or when it's sitting next to you on a train or taxi. The best part for me was the way it opens up, and can be quickly picked up while open, or things dropped in, without things falling out. Perfect for weddings, when I need to swap cameras, load film, and need to move quickly. The opening hinges work perfectly, and at first I was worried would break over time, but after a few months of use its obvious that they are built to last. The insert is perfect, with small pockets on every side, which I used to separate film, or batteries. The laptop compartment worked great on wedding days as a place to hold light meters and fragile things, and the dividers made it easy to configure the bag to fit my Pentax, Leica, digital, lenses, and film. I switched it up depending on the job, and it always kept the gear safe and easy to access. The opening and closing might bother some people, especially if you are wanting a shoulder bag to work from without setting it down, but I found that it worked great as a get there and set down bag. And the leather handles are easy and comfortable to pick up and move when needed.
Overall I’d say this bag is perfect for wedding and travel photographers looking for something beautiful, but also that backs up those looks with really wonderful function. It's especially useful for us medium format photographers. It always got compliments, as does everything Matt Swaggart makes. It fit right into my backyard of Montana, blending perfectly with the natural color palette of the west. It also seemed right at home in Scotland, where I took some images of it in front of dunvegan castle, the home of Clan MacLeod, whose motto is “Hold Fast”.
Woke up early one morning in Portland, with coffee on the mind, so Kevin and I took a stroll around the downtown. It was his first time in the city, and I fall more in love each time I visit. Must have had about five latte's by the time we left.
All images captured on Kodak film with a Contax G1