Photo Vests?

10 years, 7 months ago 4


For years I’ve tried every conceivable way to carry my gear, and on many occasions a photo vest is the right solution, that’s probably why I own five!!!!  Well two were gifts, and I’ll get to that later.  I break vests down into two categories, stylish and utilitarian.  The most commonly seen vest is the Domke vest and for good reason, it doesn’t scream “Photo gear!”.   It can actually look fairly nice.  I have a second that is very much like the Domke but is special to me for another reason entirely!    It was made by Banana Republic back when they made “real” outdoor clothing.  This is the story; My wife and I were at Hilton Head on a summer vacation with the family.  I was tagging along with her while she shopped, not my favorite activity.  She drug me into a Banana Republic, and while she was checking out the women’s clothes I saw this great photo vest, and fell in love with it.  She could see how much I wanted to get it, but unlike herself, she insisted I didn’t really need it.  After a lot of discussion I walked out of the store without it, admittedly a little disappointed.   Six months later sitting around the Christmas tree she handed me a clothes box size package, I wondered as I opened it what she would have bought me in the clothes line, as I seldom let anyone buy my clothes, but myself.  Of course you know what is coming, I opened the box and to my shock found the vest she has slipped and bought me back in the summer.  She said, “You are impossible to surprise, but I got you this time!”  She had, and that vest will always be my favorite!


I think the Domke and “special gift” type vests are best when you want to carry just a couple of extra lenses and some small accessories or filters.  They distribute the weight well and as I said,  you don’t look like a pack horse in them.


The utilitarian type vests like the Leonard Lee Rue and Vested Interest vests above are best when you have to carry a substantial amount of gear and you want it well protect, and frankly you don’t care what you looks like, after all, photography comes first!   The Vested Interest vest has great padding and hold lenses in pockets that are easy to work our of, and is constructed to last for decades!  The Leonard Lee Rue, is a cross between the Vested Interest and the Domke, slightly less bulky than the Vested Interest but well made and very roomy.  I got mine from the son of a friend who died recently, he found it in his Dad’s closet and suggested he would like me to have it.  I’m honored and will keep it in his dad’s honor.  I also happen to love Leonard and Len Rue, two of the nicest people in photography!


Below is one last solution that is not commercially available though several other brands are, a photo jacket.  This one is one of only four in existence,  it’s the Bill Fortney Photo Parka, another of my great ideas???!!!  I made it for photojournalists in the 70’s.  The coolest feature is the tan color is 18% reflectant!  Oh well, not every idea goes over so well!  Only four prototypes exist.  Bill Pekala, Ned Beatty, Don Nelson, an I have the only four.

When you don’t want to carry a shoulder bag or back pack this may be the answer!!






4 Responses

  1. Carl says:

    If your coat ever goes back into production put me down as a purchaser – love it!! Maybe you were just ahead of your time with it then – aren’t you always ahead of your time?!!

  2. Robert Christopulos says:

    Hi Bill,

    I hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Trish and I traveled a lot, and I was able to play three concerts. Two were for the homeless so they were noisy and loud. The one with the Jazz on Wednesday really had some great food as well. You’d be surprised how many, and varied the reasons are that people are homeless. The ages of the people are also varied, from old geezer like me to one child I saw that was just a month old. I not only got the opportunity to sing, play, and share from the stage, but to talk to, pray with, and just try to support and encourage these dear people.

    On Wednesday, after we got through at Energy Solutions we spent the evening with one of my daughters and her family for Thanksgiving. On Thursday I played another large concert for the homeless. Between these two concerts I think there were more than 5, 000 people. I do know that The Lord really touched many people’s hearts. You’d be amazed how many people told me that they appreciated the fact that they really knew that by coming out to play that they knew that I really cared for them. This is a great opportunity to share the truth that the great God cared enough to come out and give His life for them. Well, that night we spent Thanksgiving night with the guys here at the mission home. My wife and I spent yesterday having Thanksgiving with another one of my daughters and her family and then I had the opportunity to sing and play for her church. Today, we finish up Thanksgiving at another of my daughters.

    How good can it be, playing three concerts, being with three of my daughters and their families, and having four Thanksgivings in four days. Its it any wonder that sometimes I feel like Abraham (Father of many nations), the maestro, the Thanksgiving Turkey, or just plain rotund!

    Hope you’ve had a great one Bill.

    God Bless,