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DIY Camera Caddy: Secure Your Gear While On-The-Go



Have you ever wanted something to hold the gear you are using when driving around a location and pausing to take pictures? I travel to state parks, national wildlife refuges, and small towns for photography and camping. I always travel with two systems, usually two sizes of digital cameras, an APS-C and 44×33, or a digital setup and a film camera. I might have a backpack with my 6×12 panoramic film kit and another with my 44×33 ALPA kit. Both of these systems require setup time and are expensive to replace. But when I am driving around and looking for locations and nature to photograph, I might quickly stop for an image of birds wading in the marsh, a beautiful sunset, or something else that catches my eye. I will want to jump into action quickly, and working out of a backpack from my van floor does not cut it because setup and breakdown are too time-consuming. Cradling a camera on the empty passenger seat is not a good idea either. So I looked at what I had available to make what I needed. Once I found it, I was off spending time with scissors and a utility knife.

I had an older Stanley Tool Caddy I used on environmental portrait shoots years ago. It held an extra lens, a light meter, film, and other small items I would like to access during a shoot. It was a good size for my needs, easy to carry, and durable enough with a thick waterproof bottom. After I retired from portrait work, the tool caddy sat in the garage because I did not want to get rid of it. It was one of those tools a working pro learns to appreciate, but the photography equipment companies overlook. Once I began thinking about what would work inside the van while shooting and driving, I decided the old tool caddy might fit the bill with a little modification. It was small enough to sit on the passenger seat and rugged enough to sit on the van floor without tipping over.

I wanted to change the durability and padding of the canvas walls and bottom. I had a few small backpacks made for photography on hand that I intended to donate to our local children’s home, and I decided to pull one of them and see how I could use some of its parts to reinforce the tool caddy’s sidewalls and bottom. With the help of scissors and a utility knife, I cut up the backpack and used its sidewalls and bottom for the inside of the tool caddy. I removed the front panel and cut the straps off the back. I made it into an open cube that would fit inside the tool caddy. The caddy’s handle also required a modification to remove its ease of falling dead center. I feared it would hit the gear, so I made one sidewall higher and left a bit of extra material on its edge to make a ledge for the handle to rest, and it worked.

Once in my van, my new Camera Caddy worked just like I hoped it would. Now when I am driving around scouting out locations but want to reach for my camera in a snap, I can. And no more worries about gear falling off a seat or repeatedly having to stop and set gear up only to break it down into the backpack. So save a backpack or two, as you never know if you can repurpose their materials for other needs. A clean, lightweight tool caddy with a durable bottom waiting in your garage is a bonus.