Lady Dynamite

The internets are filled with photographers doing “What’s in My Bag” videos and blog posts. I think some photographers like to see what equipment “successful” photographers use because, of course,  it’s the gear that will make you a wildly successful photographer. Vision, point-of-view, craft and experience …. way overrated. (Well, a little natural-born talent doesn’t hurt.)

I’ve resisted doing a similar post because I switch gears (pun!) so often. So I will stick to two overall suggestions: First, always bring extra batteries. Whatever gear you’re using (especially if you’re shooting digital), freshly charged batteries are a must…. seriously!!

Second, what I’ve always found extremely useful on my shoots is something to break the ice, put my subjects at ease and distract them while I capture their soul. Since I don’t have a sense of humor of my own, I like to bring along a comedian, aka, a funny person. Here’s where you need to be very careful because not all comedians are funny in person. Strangely, they have all this energy and are hilarious onstage, but as soon as they are out of the limelight, bang! all that juju disappears… and those batteries I mentioned earlier?  …not much use with comedians.

My go-to funny person and the one who never lets me down is Maria Bamford. She’s funny.

Her act includes voice impressions of various characters, so it’s as if you get a bunch of comedians wrapped into one… BONUS! Plus she’s very tiny – no extra baggage fees!

On The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the host called her his “favorite comedian on planet Earth.”

To which I say: Maria Bamford is my favorite comedian in my Samsonite.

Frankly, I’m thinking the “What’s in My Bag” posts are done by photographers hoping to get some free swag from some of the photo equipment vendors like ThinkTank Photo, who make some darn good camera bags.

By the way, you can catch Maria on “Lady Dynamite,” streaming on Netfilx.

Comedian Maria Bamford is photographed in Los Angeles, California. (JOHN NELSON)

Comedian Maria Bamford is photographed in Los Angeles, California. (JOHN NELSON)

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