ThinTank Photo (01.12.2012)


Think Tank Photo is a group of designers and professional photographers focused on studying how photographers work, and developing inventive new carrying solutions to meet their needs. By focusing on “speed” and “accessibility,” we prepare photographers to Be Ready “Before The Moment,” allowing them to document those historic moments that reflect their personal visions and artistic talents. For some companies, it is only about the product. For us, it is more: It is about supporting photographers doing their job. If we can design products that help photographers travel easier, take pictures faster, and organize their gear more efficiently, then we will have accomplished something beyond the bags themselves.

Founders: Doug Murdoch, Kurt Rogers, Deanne Fitzmaurice, Mike Sturm.

Think Tank Photo was started in January 2005 by two designers, Doug Murdoch and Mike Sturm, and two photographers, Deanne Fitzmaurice and Kurt Rogers. Deanne Fitzmaurice won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for photojournalism in 2005.

“Think Tank”, which is defined as an idea producing organization, perfectly describes Think Tank Photo’s company culture and mission of creating inventive new carrying solutions. Think Tank has created a string of inventions since 2005 unmatched by their competitors.

With the introduction of the Multimedia Wired Up Collection, Think Tank continues as the industry leader by being the first company to design a series of products specifically for the new DSLR’s that record still images, video, and audio.  The Multimedia Wired Up Collection proves again that listening to working professional photographers and understanding their needs is the catalyst for inventive products.

We design products for photographers.

Our Design Board members are an essential part of the creative process.  They provide us with insights, ideas, and feedback based on real-world experiences.  Initiating dialogue and discussion with professional photographers and visual journalists around the world insures that our products are thoughtfully and faithfully executed and created.  A key part of Think Tank’s philosophy is that the members of the Design Board discuss their comments and ideas directly with the product designers, with no one else intervening between them.

We want to thank each Design Board member for their continued support and gracious participation in the creative process.  We look forward to their future input and inspiration. Design board members are listed alphabetically below by last name:

  • Boogie - Documentary Photographer
  • David Bergman - Action Photographer and Video Producer
  • Matt Brandon - Humanitarian Photographer
  • David Burnett - Photojournalist, Contact Press Images
  • Robert Deutsch - Staff Photographer, USA Today
  • David duChemin - Humanitarian Photographer
  • David Alan Harvey - Photographer, Magnum Photos
  • Reed Hoffmann - Editorial Photographer and Educator
  • Ed Kashi - Documentary Photographer and Filmmaker, VII Photo Agency
  • Rachel LaCour Niesen - Wedding Photographer/Storyteller
  • Bob Sacha - Multimedia Producer and Documentary Filmmaker
  • Tyler Stableford - Commercial Photographer and Filmmaker

Design Philosophy

It has been six years since we started the company, but our commitment to Supporting Photographers remains unchanged: We are committed to designing great products that meet the ever-changing needs of photographers’ equipment. Our commitment to photographers is embodied not only in our products, but also in our customer service and our “No Rhetoric” product warranty.

A company’s product is the tangible representation of their brand, since the product is what the customer experiences the most. Our products represent our commitment to photographers, which is one of the reasons why we use such high quality materials like YKK RC Fuse Zippers. And knowing that PVC is detrimental to the environment, since 2005 we have maintained a “No PVC” policy, the first of its kind in the camera bag industry.

From a product design perspective, we believe that direct and unfiltered communication between the product designers and photographers is absolutely essential, without others in-between, such as product managers, sales or marketing people. And no politics. To borrow from the computer software industry, we have an “open source” perspective, which means that we allow people from outside the company to influence our design direction, such as our Design Board. We have created a company structure that allows for photographers to talk about their needs directly with our designers, eliminating the normal politics that are associated with product design.

Our company philosophy has resulted in a string of inventions unmatched by our competitors.  These inventions can be viewed on our timeline.

The reason why we believe Speed and Accessibility is the most important design element is because photography is about taking pictures. If you are using a carrying system that impedes your ability to take pictures, then it has failed you. As an example, photographers that wear a backpack all day may take it off to access their gear ten or more times. However, after a short time they become tired of this and stop changing lenses and stop taking pictures. This is why Modular belts systems are so effective, and also why we make a distinction between  “active shooting mode” vs. “storage and transportation mode.”

We're obsessed about the details, what we call "The Last 3%." This is because these details are the difference between an average and an excellent product. As product designers, we are compelled to put in all the features and benefits that photographers want, which is why we came up with our No Compromise philosophy.

And most importantly, thank you to the photographers and visual journalists that continue to encourage us, support us, and believe in our vision and company mission.


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