DnaEuropeInside camera bag of Alain Schroeder

Belgian photographer Alain Schroeder has been working in the industry for over four decades. During his tenure as a sports photographer in the 80s, his shots appeared on more than 500 magazine covers.

Belgian photographer Alain Schroeder has been working in the industry for over four decades. During his tenure as a sports photographer in the 80s, his shots appeared on more than 500 magazine covers.

Book assignments and editorial pieces with subjects as diverse as travel, art, culture and human interest followed and in 1989, he co-founded the Belgian photo agency, Reporters.

In 2013, he uprooted his life, trading-in his shares in Reporters to pursue life on the road with a camera. Schroeder now travels the world shooting stories focusing on social issues, people and their environment. «I am not a single shot photographer. I think in series,» he says adding, «I strive to tell a story in 10-15 pictures, capturing the essence of an instant with a sense of light and framing.» His pictures have won many awards including three World Press Photo 1st prizes in 2018 and 2020. [Official Website]

Alain Schroeder (Copyright: Inès Koh)

What’s in your camera bag?

I don’t have a camera bag. I use only one camera when I work. It is a Fuji X-Pro2 (or since 2020 sometimes a X-T4) with a Fujinon 18mm 2 lens. I wear a pouch belt where I put a Fujinon 14mm 2.8 and a Fujinon 55-200mm 3.5-4.8, a few batteries and memory cards. That’s it. But this configuration can change according to the kind of photos I am shooting. Sometimes I carry a small nylon backpack for extra things like water, a mini tripod, an Ikan led light,… Sometimes I wear a fisherman’s vest with many pockets.

Fuji X-T4 with 18mm 2 lens Cullmann mini tripod with Sirui head Ikan LED light Fujinon 55-200mm 3.5-4.8 lens Fujinon 14mm 2.8 lens

What’s the most surprising thing you carry?

Nothing

What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?

The camera. I have it with me all the time.

What are some of the details that you find essential for your style of bags?

I don’t like high-end backpacks. I never buy or use them.

What are the important things for protecting your camera gear?

Bubble wrap is very light and easy to find everywhere.

Can you give me the essential carry kit when traveling the globe (bags, accessories etc.)?

In my suitcase I have a few items in case of a technical problem or a special need. Everything is like new, I hardly use any of it:

– 2 spare cameras – 1 Fuji X-Pro2, 1 Fuji X-T4 that I use for action pictures (used for the Kok Boru series in Kyrgyzstan),

– 1 monopod,

– 1 Fujinon 10-24mm 4 (used for the Kok Boru series in Kyrgyzstan)

– 1 flash Godox TT685F that I have not used in the last 6 years but I keep it because you never know (…and finally after 6 years I used it for one orangutan picture).

– 2 chargers and extra batteries.

I am travelling a lot in Asia, and Bangkok is a key hub. When I am there I always give my equipment for a general check up, to clean the sensors and make any repairs. It takes 5-7 days and is much cheaper than in Europe or the US. A few years ago I abandoned my tripod, I never used it. Instead I have a small mini tripod. I am quite nomadic, travelling almost all the time.

I have an editing/working configuration in a small regular backpack with my computer, hard drives, headphones, notebook,… For editing I use a MacBook Pro, 4 Samsung SSD drives of 4 Tb each, a few SanDisk extreme portable SSD with 2 Tb (they are very small), but I don’t all carry that with me when I am shooting.

In Indonesia during the orangutan project, for a particular shot I needed to buy a remote control with a specific cable for the camera and a special tripod (octopus style) with flexible arms to wrap around a tree, I asked a local friend photographer to buy it on the Internet. A few days later it was delivered.  I also ordered the fisherman’s vest with many pockets to have everything handy when working in the orangutan clinic and walking in the jungle. I adapt my way of working to the story I am shooting.

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia A medical check on the operating table at the quarantine center in Sibolangit.

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia A sedated orangutan is being weighed before a medical check at the quarantine center in Sibolangit.

Story: Living for Death in Sulawesi, Indonesia / Ceremony of the cleaning of the corpses. A family member has opened the coffins and on display are Captain Lode Sarungu, who passed away 12 years ago at the age of 75, leaning against the house on the left, and his mother Dandan lying on the red cloth in the foreground.

Story: Living for Death in Sulawesi, Indonesia / Ceremony of the cleaning of the corpses. A family member has opened the coffins and is cleaning a corpse.

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia General view of the jungle during the rescue of a 15-year-old female orangutan who the team names Linda. This is the moment when they wrap the orangutan in the safety net and carry it to a flat surface where the veterinarian will perform a medical check. I am completely drenched in sweat from the heat and humidity. I use a blue waterproof bag to protect my camera in between shots.

Story: Kid Jockeys in Indonesia Kid Jockeys aged 5 to 10 race the whole day, every day for one week. Left: Aside from the races, there are many rituals involved like this purification ceremony. Right: The final picture. Fuji X-Pro2 with14mm lens

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia Left: Once the mother (Hope) had been sedated, the vet held the baby in his arms. Later, in the car on the way to the hospital with Hope who needed immediate surgery, the baby died. Right: The final picture. Fuji X-Pro2 with14mm lens

Story: Kid Jockeys in Indonesia Kid Jockeys aged 5 to 10 race the whole day, every day, for one week. After a day of racing, horses are taken for a cooling bath. All the kids in the neighborhood take advantage of the moment to play with the horses in the river. Left: In the water with the kids. I used an underwater housing with a Sony RX100 IV, just for this shot. Right: The final picture in B&W

Story: Dead Goat Polo in Kyrgyzstan Kok Boru, Kyrgyzstan’s national sport. You have to throw a decapitated goat in a goal to score a point. Left: Standing in the tai kazan (goal). During an unofficial game it is possible to stand in the goal without too much risk. However, one camera was broken when a goat landed on it. I used a Fuji X-Pro2 on a monopod with a remote control and a wide angle 10 mm lens. Right: The final shot from that point of view. Fuji X-Pro2 with14mm lens

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia Left: General view of the jungle during the rescue of a 15-year-old female orangutan, who the team names Linda. Right: Three final pictures shot at that location. Fuji X-Pro2 with14mm lens

Story: Dead Goat Polo in Kyrgyzstan Kok Boru, Kyrgyzstan’s national sport. You have to throw a decapitated goat in a goal to score a point. Left: Kids start learning the game as early as 5 years old, but instead of horses, they ride donkeys and play with a goat-skin pillow stuffed with hay that weighs about 2 kilos. Right: The final picture

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia Jantho Reintroduction Centre near Aceh. Left: My first test, but I placed the camera on the wrong side of the tree. After discussing with the team, they told me that the orangutan would probably choose the smaller trunk to climb as it would be easier. Right: The final picture. They were right, the orangutan chose to climb the smaller part of the trunk. Fuji X-Pro2 on an octopus style tripod attached to a branch of the tree and a 14mm lens + Godox flash + remote control.

Story: Kid Jockeys in Indonesia Kid Jockeys aged 5 to 10 race the whole day, every day, for one week. Left: The starting gate. I am trying to squeeze my lens between the bars to see the jockeys. Right: The final shot. Fuji X-Pro2 with 14mm lens

Story: Dead Goat Polo in Kyrgyzstan Kok Boru, Kyrgyzstan’s national sport. You have to throw a decapitated goat in a goal to score a point. Left: At the end of the game one rider attached the head of the goat to his saddle. Right: The final picture.  Fuji X-T4 with a 10-24mm 4 lens

Story: Grandma Divers on Jeju Island, South Korea Wearing thin rubber suits and old-fashioned goggles, Haenyeo or women of the sea, free dive to harvest seafood. Left: I installed a black background on the wall of their volcanic basalt-stone house and with the aid of a local student fixer/translator I shot the portraits. Right: The final picture.  Fuji X-Pro2 with 18mm lens

Story: Saving Orangutans in Sumatra, Indonesia At the quarantine center in Sibolangit. Left: I was working with available light, a mix of daylight from the windows and neon on the ceiling, and sometimes the light on the head of the animal was blocked by the vets so I used a small LED lamp to add light from the side where needed. Right: The final picture. The team had to hold the orangutan in a seated position to perform a medical check. Fuji X-Pro2 with 14mm lens

Story: Living for Death in Sulawesi, Indonesia Ceremony of the cleaning of the corpses. A family member has opened the coffins and on display are Captain Lode Sarungu who passed away 12 years ago at the age of 75, his mother Dandan, and his sister Limbong. Right: The final shot.  Fuji X-Pro2 with 14mm lens

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Photo by ©Ryotaro Horiuchi | Japan | Issue#14
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