In your bag No: 1237, Michael Duke
We have a cracking bag for a Sunday. Inside a genuine press reporters bag. Not just a photographer, but a reporter too. Michael carries everything he needs to cover a story. Check this one out.

Shalom ya’ll. I’m Michael Duke, a photojournalist, reporter and editor for a Jewish community newspaper in Houston, Texas, USA. I work for the family business, of which I represent the third generation, and we’ve been in publication since 1908. We produce a weekly print edition, half-a-dozen freestanding magazines and a weekly e-edition. We also post breaking news on our website and through social media.

I’m a self-taught photographer. I learned on a full-frame DSLR several years ago, then switched to mirrorless this past November. Around the same time, I began experimenting with film photography, both in 35mm and 120mm formats. JCH has been a boon to my photography education, so thanks for that.

I currently schlep a Billingham Hadley over my shoulder. Inside are twin Fujifilm X-T1s. My primary is fitted with a 23mm f/1.4, while the other sports Fuji’s 50-140mm f/2.8. I recently added the new 16mm f/1.4, and I have the 90mm f/2 on pre-order. The X-system has taught me to appreciate fast primes. In doing so, my work has improved. There’s so much to laud about the Fuji beyond its glass: jpeg colors, tack-sharp IQ, unassuming size, solid build quality and accessible full-manual controls.

On occasion, I’ll pack a film camera on assignment, as well as shooting on my own time. My Rollei is particularly special, as it belonged to my grandfather, who served as our newspaper’s co-owner and publisher from 1973 until his death in 2011. My grandfather bought the camera new in Europe while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He used it during his military service and, over the decades, to document family events, including my own birth. I employ it on similar occasions.

I also wield a Contax iia, from the early 1950s, fitted with a Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f/1.5. Despite needing some service – it only has two-and-a-half working shutter speeds, and the finder is slightly misaligned – I love shooting with this camera. Part of the reason has to do with pedigree and my love of history. Robert Cappa used the Contax ii to document the D-Day landing in 1944. My Contax was a wedding gift from my brother-in-law and sister, which is another reason why I hold it dear.

I prefer shooting Ilford film, either pushing HP5 to 1600, or pulling Delta 3200 down a stop or two. Whereas I liked photography working with a DSLR, I now love it shooting both film and mirrorless.

My bag is topped off with other tools of the trade: press credentials, reporter’s notebooks, my favorite Parker Jotter ballpoint pens, a voice recorder and a laser distance calculator, which comes in handy for zone focusing and for describing environment. I also always carry a kippah (skullcap) with me, being a Jewish journalist.

Family and education got me to where I am today. In recognition, much of my reporting has to do with those subjects. Additionally, I cover politics and foreign affairs.

It’s both a privilege and a responsibility working for my community’s newspaper of record. We’re one of the few independently owned Jewish newspapers left in the United States. I’m committed to ensuring that the paper is around for at least another 107 years.

My photography and writing can be seen on our website at I also maintain a photo blog at

Thanks for sharing your bag with us, Michael. It is nice to see that a film camera makes it on assignment too.
Check out the links and please make sure you come and comment.

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