"A news photographer will go to a scene and they have to record what’s going on. I have the time to reflect on the project and see where it’s coming from. Find the cause, not just the effect."
Michael Coyne is an award-winning photographer with over 30-years-experience covering everything from war, fashion, famine, revolution and international events for publications like National Geographic, Time, Vogue and Sports Illustrated. His immense talent and passion for telling the stories surrounding a time, place or people has taken him all over the planet.
When he told us he would be stopping in Melbourne, we invited him in to Crumpler HQ to have a chat about what he’s been up to, his thoughts on the evolution of photography and why he uses Crumpler’s photography bags to keep his gear safe.
Whether it be the stories behind Iran under the Ayatollah or the regeneration of the Jesuits around the world, Michael doesn’t just record what’s happening in the present. He gets to the bottom of the cause and effect of his assignments. And the only way to truly understand and tell these stories is to respect your subjects and be present.
"I get asked all the time “How do you work with people?” Easy. I respect them and I respect their culture and they respect me back."
And it’s that mindset that has allowed Michael to capture the extremely intimate and insightful images that he has over the past three decades.
"It’s all about making them feel comfortable. Then, all of a sudden, they don’t mind you taking their picture."Michael asked if we wanted to see the equipment he works with. The look on his face told us that we were going to be shocked at what we were about to see. Sure enough, rather than the enormous tribute to the gods of the captured image we were expecting, Michael unwrapped his rather unassuming FUJIFILM X-Series camera from a thin yellow micro-fibre cloth.
"My whole way of working is to work as simply as possible. If you’re doing my kind of work you can’t turn up with five cameras around your neck all with 12-inch lenses attached. You’ll find everyone will step back and shy away."
Instead, Michael travels with two top-of-the-line FUJIFILM X-Series cameras (one for photos and one for 4K video), a handful of lenses, several SD cards, batteries, some palm sized LED lights and a laptop.
"With no film and not a lot of need for masses of lighting, I don’t need anything too big. In the old days, I would go out on assignment with a suitcase full of film. But things have evolved."
Michael keeps all his photography gear safe in three Crumpler bags: a Black Mild Enthusiast, a Black 7 Million Dollar Home and a Matte Black Vis-à-vis when he travels from assignment to assignment.
"I look for something strong and reliable, just like everything in it. I want to be able to get to the equipment quickly. I want plenty of pockets that will be able to hold all of the bits and pieces that I have."
The Crumpler HQ team really appreciated sitting down with a true master of his craft.
Looking to up your photography gear storage game to the same level as Michael Coyne? Check out our full photography bag range right here.