What’s in My Bag?

April 24, 2017

By Ian Spanier

© Ian Spanier

With a futuristic design that serves more for function than just cool looks, the Platypod Pro MAX has quickly become one of my favorite go-to items this year. With a multitude of uses available- it has quickly found a home in my camera bag.

© Ian Spanier


© Ian Spanier

Nite Ize Twist Ties come in a variety of colors and sizes.

Photographer Ian Spanier takes us inside his camera bag for a look at three of his favorite gadgets to have on hand.

I’ll admit it, I’m a total gadget guy. I love all sorts of tools and tech gear that makes my job easier, or, in some cases, impresses clients. In previous articles, I’ve spoken about my use of CamRanger as a communication portal between my camera and my iPad. Thanks to Hoodman, I’ve added their latest light shield to aid my wireless method of shooting. Although it is marketed as a Drone Aviator Hood Kit, it works perfectly with my workflow.

Hoodman’s Drone Aviator Hood Kit is not just for drone users. I’ve been using this kit both indoors and outdoors to display images glare-free when I am shooting wireless to my iPad. © Ian Spanier Photography 2017

Outside this is a no brainer—the hood cuts out the ambient light and allows my clients to see what I’m shooting in (almost) real time. Inside the shield is equally advantageous as it cuts some of the pesky reflections from overhead lights. There’s also a nice access point underneath for your hand to reach in and access the screen, and it comes with adjustable straps to attach securely to your iPad—an improvement from my previous hood that only had bungie straps. As one more step to clarity, there’s now an additional hood extender attachment (HAV2E) that allows a viewer to completely cut out ambient light—something that will definitely come in handy on my next desert shoot. I combine this set up with a non-glare screen protector that I purchased from Amazon to cut reflections one-step further. It’s not necessarily needed with the Hoodman shield, but I like the added protection, and it is far less prone to fingerprints than using only the screen.

The added access point means no more reaching in from the viewer’s side to advance images. © Ian Spanier Photography 2017

With the HAV2E you can extend the hood and completely cut all ambient light for clear viewing of the screen. © Ian Spanier Photography 2017

The hood also flips back and stays attached thanks to the handy Velcro straps. © Ian Spanier Photography 2017

I needed to shoot for two straight days from this perspective. The Platypod MAX was the perfect solution to put my camera in a fixed position without having to move. The adjustable and reversal rubber feet/spiked feet allow for a secure, non-slip footing on varying surfaces. © Ian Spanier Photography 2017

When it comes to well-thought-out, photographer-friendly gadgets, Platypod stands heads and tails above the rest. Platypod Max, which launched as a Kickstarter campaign, is a go-anywhere, multi-use platform of strength for your camera. Though you have the ability to add your favorite ball head and Max,  Platypod comes with everything you need to balance your camera on a railing, uneven surface, or ground to get the shot. As if that’s not enough, it can also mount your lights as well. With Platypod’s Multikit, you can add a light post for your strobe. It has bailed me out when I didn’t have a floor plate and, more recently, I mounted a Profoto B1 with an umbrella on Max atop a tripod when I needed to travel light and couldn’t drag a c-stand with me. (They even improved this aspect recently by adding  a three-inch spigot adapter that is thick two thirds of the way up so that it balances better in an umbrella adapter.) All of this comes in a handy soft pouch that takes up minimal real estate in your camera bag.

The plate also has holes in it should you need to semi-permanently mount the plate to a wall with screws. This should come in handy for filmmakers who may want to mount a camera or light where your body, ordinary stand, boom or extension just cannot get to.

Aside from a great camera support, the Max is more than suited to handle strobe heads. We didn’t have a floor stand on this shoot, and mounting the Profoto B1 on the Max was a perfect solution. ©Ian Spanier Photography 2017

I shoot a fair amount of low-angle shots, and in the past I’d lay my camera on a sandbag or box for support, but if I needed to move, the composition would be compromised. With Max, I can leave the camera in position if I need to check the computer, talk with my clients or what have you. Perhaps my favorite part is that, for someone who doesn’t like to shoot on a tripod much, it allows me to leave my tripod at home since I can use any tree, rock, pole or railing to get the shot. For example, Tripods were not permitted on a recent location shoot, but with Max, I was able to bypass that limitation with ease.

Without using a standard light stand, I attached Max to the top of my tripod head and got my Profoto B1 in the perfect position for a standing portrait. The new three-inch spigot adaptor makes situations like this even easier. ©Ian Spanier Photography 2017



Come early May, Platypod will be launching a new Kickstarter campaign for Max’s mighty little brother, the Ultra. Ultra will be geared more toward mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras, although it can still manage DSLRs. Ultra also promises some nice facets like direct attachment to your belt, adding more accessibility to its go-everywhere capabilities.


This is an example of the many ways I use Nite Ize ties. In this case, my B-Grip belt would unravel constantly when clipped to the side of my bag. The tie keeps it secure and, by always having it handy during shoots, I get the two-for-one bonus. ©Ian Spanier Photography 2017

This last one may seem simple, and it is, but I always keep it around. Nite Ize Twist Ties are great for everything from securing a 50-foot stinger to attaching an accessory bag to your rolling bag or backpack. I regularly secure pocket wizards to stands, boom mics,  c-stand arms and more. I’ve even used them as safety lines for cameras mounted overhead, and once a held 9-foot seamless on my roof rack using these to secure it.  The possibilities are endless and, at barely $5 a pop, they are a must-have in the bag for a zillion uses!

Ian Spanier began taking photographs at six years old when his parents gave him his first point and shoot camera. After majoring in photography in college, Spanier worked in publishing as an editor, but making pictures never left him. Having only known 35mm, he taught himself medium and large format as well as lighting.

Clients include: MTV, Comedy Central, A&E, HBO, Runner’s World, Fast Company, Shape, UFC, Conde Nast Traveler, Danskin, Field & Stream, Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, Marie Claire, Time Out NY, Psychology Today, The New York Times, Los Angeles Magazine, AirTran’s Go Magazine, The New York City Economic Development Corporation, Bank of America, Gerber Knife Company, This Old House, WP Carey, Time Inc. and Simon and Schuster, FLEX Magazine, M&F HERS,  Price Waterhouse, LowePro, FujiFilm, and 2Xist.

Ian’s first full book of published work, “Playboy, a Guide to Cigars” arrived in cigar shops November 2009 and the public version hit retail stores Spring 2010. The book is a collection of his photographs made in six countries spanning two and a half years. His newest book project, “Local Heroes: America’s Volunteer Fire Fighters,” came out to critical acclaim in the Fall of 2012.

Ian is a member of the Lowepro, “Loweprofessionals” Team and The Photoflex “Light Leaders,” a brand ambassador for Hoodman USA and Imagenomic.

The original masters of photography have always inspired Spanier as they shot what they saw. For him, there is no “one” subject that he photographs; he also chooses to shoot what he sees.

Although he works anywhere and everywhere, Spanier recently left NY for the sunny coast, and now lives with his wife and two sons in Los Angeles, CA. Questions or comments, e-mail him at: To see more of Ian Spanier’s latest advertising, editorial and personal projects, visit his site at He is represented by Big Leo.