On a recent trip to Europe I brought along my old reliable Domke Vest, as usual. I find it very useful to have it available when I’m photographing because it holds a lot of gear and keeps each item within easy reach. I have also found it to be very convenient and secure while I’m rushing through airports, catching cabs, and getting to my destination. Little did I know that on this trip it would prove to be an essential piece of travel gear.
On this trip my wife, Anne Larsen, and I had our respective Hasselblad equipment neatly stowed in our Domke bags. In addition, I had my Powerbook laptop and essential documents in a shoulder bag, and we had a small, carry-on-size “roll-aboard” with our film supply. Everything went fine until we encountered security at London's Heathrow Airport. We were told, as was everyone else, ONE and only one carry-on per person. We pleaded our case at length with the security people, who were polite, but said it was a "newly instated national regulation." I had checked everything out with United Airlines prior to our trip, but was not told anything about this. In fact, they told us we would have to check two bags.
Our priceless Hasselblad gear, as well as my Powerbook computer, probably would not survive being checked, and we knew that our large supply of film for this three-week photographic assignment would be ruined, due to the heavy, high-dose X-rays that checked baggage is subjected to. After protracted conversations and showing documentation proving that we were both working professional photographers, they finally granted us one additional carry-on bag. That, however, still left us with a huge problem.
My Domke vest came to the rescue! I carefully loaded it to the gills with bricks of 120 film, fragile Hasselblad lenses, my spot meter, and other photographic accessories. It certainly wasn't comfortable. I have no idea how much it weighed, but I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy!!! We breezed through security and, once we were aboard the plane, I off-loaded the extra gear back into a lightweight bag we had stashed in one of my Domke's many compartments.
Needless to say, my Domke Vest will ALWAYS be with me on any trip in the future -- photographic or otherwise.