In your bag No: 1535 – James Valls

James is taking a breather from life and explores the alleys of Kolkata with this setup.

I’m James Valls, Spanish photographer based in Oxford currently spending a month in Kolkata. No project or goals for this trip, just discovering the city and hopefully, discovering myself a little bit as well!

There are a couple of essential items that do not appear in the photo, my iPhone 7 (that’s what I took the photo with) and toilet paper, possibly the two most essential items in my camera bag at the moment!

Kolkata is an amazing city full of surprises, street life is chaotic and fascinating and the food can be out of this world but it can also be a bit too much for your guts! I’ve learnt the hard way to always keep toilet paper in your bag, it’s not often you find clean toilets around.

The iPhone is an incredibly useful tool for photographers and travellers alike, Uber is possibly the cheapest and best way to travel around the city, no more haggling with drivers! Airbnb has completely changed the way I travel and Google maps is great to plan your day (saving the map for offline usage is also helpful as it loads much faster).  I also use the phone to back up my photos wirelessly every night and do some photo editing and uploads to social media.

In terms of camera equipment I’m currently using a Sony A7II with a Sony Zeiss 35mm f2.8 and a Sony Zeiss 24-70mm f4.0. This is the first trip I’m taking this kit as I normally shoot with a Fuji x100t or an x-pro but for this trip I wanted to have something versatile enough to allow me to shoot decent video as well if I needed to. So far I’m happy with it, a bit too bulky and far too many customisation options and buttons. The shutter is way louder than the fuji systems but not too much of an issue in this city. I’m mostly shooting with the 35mm lens, small and fast, perfect for street photography. The 24-70mm is mostly relegated to portraits.

It’s monsoon season in Kolkata so when it starts raining it rains properly, streets fill up with water that can easily go over your knees within minutes. The umbrella is one of those simple devices that are extremely useful here, I brought with me a rain jacket but it’s far too hot for it, the umbrella is definitely the best tool for the job. I also brought a camera rain cover but the A7 seem to be coping with the monsoon rain surprisingly well so I haven’t used it yet.

The bag is a super cheap one I bought here in Kolkata for 600 rupees (around 10 US dollars), it’s pretty inconspicuous so it doesn’t attract too much attention and I don’t feel too precious about it. I brought a dry backpack but again, too hot to carry in this weather!

I’m also using a camera clip by Peak design for the first time, finding it super comfortable, the clip is attached to my belt at all times, it feels very sturdy and the camera stays safe and ready to shoot, it does attract a bit too much attention at times though.

I always carry a book, a notepad and a fountain pen, it’s nice to take a break every so often, grab a coffee and jot down your thoughts and ideas on paper, I find writing on paper a lot more conducive to creative thoughts than on a digital device. Same for keeping in contact with family and friends, i find writing an old fashion letter a more pleasant experience than the iPhone so I’ve got some envelopes, stamps and paper from the local shop and a stick of glue to close the envelopes.

Instagram and Twitter: @vallsphoto


Thanks for sharing your bag shot with us James, nice background cloth as well. Analog writing is indeed an endangered art.

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