Welcome back to Bag Raid, our slightly intrusive series where we invite our camera-savvy friends and community members to spill the contents of their camera bags. This month, we link up with Chicago-based photographer Nathan Dejene and dig through his Midnight Black Sidewalk Camera Sling.

All Photo: Nathan Dejene / IG: @nathan.tif

Meet Nathan Dejene, a film photographer we recently had the pleasure of connecting with via Instagram, whose vivid captures of everyday Chicago caught our attention. Originally from Ethiopia, Nathan has called the Windy City home for the past twelve years but has only had a camera in hand for about three years.

Nathan's approach to photography is to simply take his camera everywhere. Funnily enough, that's been our brand mantra since our inception, and they say great minds think alike, so we're grateful to Nathan for giving us the time to rifle through his camera kit.


Nathan, thanks for connecting. For those reading, can you give us a rundown of who you are?

I’m a film photographer from Ethiopia who’s been living in Chicago. I moved here about 12 years ago and haven’t moved anywhere else since.

What was your first camera and how did you get into photography?

My first camera was a Pentax ME Super that I picked up at a thrift store. I'd been interested in photography for a year or two by then, but I didn’t take it seriously or even shoot anything until I got that camera.

The good ol' thrift store camera. So, how long have you been shooting for?

That was in 2021, so for almost three years now.

Wow, you've got a lot of talent for someone who hasn't been shooting for very long. Describe your photography process and style.

I don’t think I have a specific process for taking photos. I just take my camera everywhere I go, and sometimes I get good shots. Style-wise, I mostly shoot street and cityscapes, but I’ve been enjoying portraits recently.

What is your everyday go-to camera setup?

It's a toss-up between my Mamiya 6 with a 50mm lens or my Contax G2 with a 45mm lens.

 What are you carrying in your Sidewalk Camera Sling?

Mamiya 6, 50mm lens, 75mm lens, a couple of rolls of Portra 400 and 800, wallet, and AirPods.

Portra 400 seems to be a staple in a lot of people's load-outs. What's your favourite film stock?

It’s a tie between Portra 400 and Fujicolor 100, but since Fuji is discontinued, I shoot Portra mostly nowadays. Cinestill 400D is also one of my favorites.

What have you been pointing your lens at lately?

Just life. I haven’t been going out with the intent to create lately; I've just been taking my camera everywhere I go. If a moment arises, my camera is there. It takes the pressure off being creative and makes you see everyday activities differently.

What makes for a perfect image? What do you look for in a frame?

I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a perfect image. If the photos I take convey the same feeling I had while taking them, that’s enough for me.

I like that. Finally, if you could only shoot with one camera for the rest of your life, what would it be?

That’s easy. My Mamiya 6.


Check out more of Nathan's work below and grab your own Sidewalk Camera Sling, here.


June 07, 2024