Trey Ratcliff has never been one to shy from a challenge. He was one of the first photographers to embrace the HDR technique which, love it or hate it, has become an extremely popular way of post-processing images. He also runs the web’s most popular travel photography blog, Stuck in Customs, where he has been posting a new image daily since its launch in 2004.
An entrepreneur at heart, he has created numerous photography e-books, presets, apps for iOS and Android, and educational websites, all of which attempt to change how we perceive and engage in the art of photography. His desire to innovate in the field of photography has gained him numerous invitations to prestigious speaking engagements at Google, TEDx, and Pinterest, as well as features on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and the BBC.
Indeed, it is little wonder that Trey now aims to revolutionise the camera accessory industry. His first project in cooperation with Peak Design is The Everyday Messenger, a camera bag that raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter during the first days of the campaign.
The Everyday Messenger has been conceived with the workflow of working photographers in mind. With a “beautiful, intelligent and adaptable” design, it aims to be that one carrying solution that will last a photographer a lifetime.
We recently had the chance to conduct a brief interview with Trey about The Everyday Messenger and how it came into being.
1. As a landscape and travel photographer, we imagine that you have used many different bags since the beginning of your career. What characteristics did you feel were lacking from these bags?
There are a lot of great bags out there, but none of them ticked ALL the boxes for me. For example, there are many cool bags that end up being way too bulky and overly padded with a lot of negative space. Most bags have a square-padded system for holding round lenses. It results in a lot more dead space and unnecessary bulk!
2. Why did you turn to Peak Design to realise your dream bag?
Because I knew these guys and I know they are good at re-inventing things photographers have taken for granted for years. I only had a few ideas, but I thought if we combined minds, we could make something great! 🙂
3. What are the main characteristics that set this bag apart from other messenger bags?
Everyone has their own highlights of the bag, but I’ll give you mine! First, it’s the first camera bag where you can carry your camera on the OUTSIDE of the bag using their Capture system. That saves a ton of room inside the bag for other stuff. Second is the insert system. These are like little origami padded things that you can fold around into most any situation. The third thing would be the patent-pending mag latch system where you can do a one-handed blind opening, getting you full access to the insides of the bag.
4. How did you contribute to the design process? Did you mostly make verbal contributions based on your own experience with multiple camera bags, or did the Peak Design team also spend time observing you and your workflow out in the field?
There were countless Skype calls and also some real-world testing in Vietnam on a little adventure. By that point, we had lots of prototypes so they could see how I was using the system, what worked and what didn’t, etc. By the way, I can’t tell you HOW FUN it is to try out a bunch of different bags then go back to the factory and make some more!
5. How much time did it take to complete the bag, from the first prototype to the final design we see today?
About 11 months! It’s quite a process. I went into this totally green! Now I know a little bit more!
6. The Everyday Messenger seems like the perfect all-in-one solution for both larger DSLRs and smaller mirrorless cameras. Since you use a mirrorless system, could you give us a practical example of the mirrorless gear you carry around inside the bag?
You bet. Since I use the Sony system (I’m not sponsored by them, by the way), I can fit a bunch of stuff inside. Currently I have my A7R Mark 2, 24-240mm Sony, 35mm f/1.4 Leica, 90mm f/2 Leica, 21mm f/1.2 Leica, 10-18mm Sony, and I also have in there the Sony RX100 Mark 4 and the DxO camera.
7. What was your reaction to raising over a million dollars in just a few days when your original goal was only $100,000?
We were all humbled and shocked! I was sitting at my computer in my studio in New Zealand with my whole family gathered around…it was really fun…then we had a pizza party, and this time we got the GOOD pizza.
8. Do you plan on designing more camera accessories in the future?
No comment! 🙂
We’ve requested a sample of The Everyday Messenger to test and review, so we’re looking forward to sharing our personal impressions about the bag. In the meantime, you can check out the Kickstarter campaign for more information and visit Trey’s website Stuck in Customs. Below you’ll also find a video describing The Everyday Messenger in detail.