It’s time to introduce the fourth in our series of Community Interviews and open the doors for your contributed questions.
The subject of interview number four should be familiar to some if not all of you out there; it’s Billingham, producer of fine, handmade camera bags since 1978 – more on that a bit further below.
We’re really excited to have Billingham on board with this, as well as a couple of other upcoming bits and pieces. Whilst we can’t speak about those in any more detail for the moment, you’ll see news trickling out over the coming week or so. In fact, the first tid-bit will be out tomorrow morning EDT.
The more attentive amongst you might be wondering what happened to interview number three with Kodak Alaris, which was announced in mid-October. Well, it’s right here!

So, Billingham…Bags?

Yep, BAGS.
Billingham have been hand making bags since 1973. The business is family owned and is currently run by Harry Billingham, son of founder Martin (whose signature can be found stitched to the inside of every Billingham bag).
Funnily enough, Billingham started off making fishing bags, not camera bags. It wasn’t until it was noticed that the bags were becoming popular for use by American photographers that the company switched tack and the Billingham bag we know today was born.
Billingham are probably most famous for their shoulder bags, although they also make photographer vests and racksacks. It should also be noted that their service is known to be legendary. Their bags, whilst not everlasting are incredibly rugged and as an owner of a small piece myself, I can say that they take a beating and look better with age. Something that’ can;t be said about yours truly, or the objects carried within them!
This is one of Billingham’s first forays into connecting with the film photography community, so play nice, give them a warm welcome and start firing away with your questions in the comments below.
If you’d like to do a little bit of research into the company before putting together your questions, head on over to

Interview timeline

As per our introductory article, this interview will be presented in three parts:

Part one: Call for submissions (this article)

The submission window is open for two weeks from today until midnight on Friday 16th December 2016.
This is your chance to have a think about what kind of questions you want to ask to Billingham and submit them in the comments section below.
The comments section of this article is the only place we will be accepting questions.
Please keep your questions concise and limit yourself to a single question per comment. You may post a maximum of two comments.
Only new, parent comments will be considered for entry, so please don’t add yours as a reply if you want a chance to have yours featured.
When doors close at midnight on Friday 16th December 2016, we’ll be locking the thread and our panel will be tasked with whittling down your submissions to roughly ten questions (more on the panel in a bit).

Part two: Handover

The submission window will close on midnight on Friday 16th December 2016, at which point the panel will come together to deliberate. A shortlist of questions and commentary will then be passed over to Billingham for review.
We’ll be working with Billingham to put together a finished article as soon as possible after the submission window closes.

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Part three: Release

We’re aiming for a pre-Christmas 2016 release, so time is short. If for any reason we can’t make this deadline, we’ll be aiming for a release in mid-January 2017! There may be other things to announce here but we’ll leave that until closer to the time.

Interview structure and panel

The panel shortlist will consist of ~10 questions submitted by you, the film photography community, two questions from yours truly and one each from the panel. It’s the job of the panel to help make the final decision as to which of the questions submitted will make the cut for the final piece, as well as to discuss, review and revise the final interview before it’s released.
Why go to the trouble of selecting a panel?
We want to alleviate any concerns regarding impartiality and bias and make the process transparent. Anyone can be a panel member for future Community Interviews, all you need do is ask.
Speaking of the panel, here they are:
Cody Priebe @codypriebe 
Martin W Smith @westen30

Starting questions

The questions below form only the beginning of this Community Interview and can be added to, or expanded upon with your own. Please be careful not to repeat, or post similar questions to the ones below, as you entry will likely be discarded. Here’s what we have to start things off:

Cody: The list of family run businesses that maintain excellence through the years is a short one. Billingham seems to take great care in maintaining high quality bags, maintaining the family legacy and the greater Billingham family – which includes the craftsman that make the bags.
Can you speak on the decision to expand your manufacturing in England rather than overseas, in a presumably less costly operation?
Martin: With the rise in popularity of smart phone cameras and smaller more pocketable system cameras, how has this affected your business?
Do you think this trend will continue and do you have plans to capitalise on it?
EMULSIVE: Your core products seem to have changed very little over the years, and it appears that the company is more interested in making small refinements, as opposed to huge changes to the products it creates. How do you see the entry of newer, smaller players into your market?
Really, the question I’m asking is what makes a Billingham bag, a Billingham bag?
EMULSIVE: Do you still see yourselves as a manufacturer of camera bags exclusively, or can we expect to see other products with the Billingham name?
Many “single product” vendors eventually diversify their product lines almost to the point of excess. Can you see Billingham doing the same in the future (without the excess bit!)?


Next steps and guidelines

Doors for your submissions are open until midnight on Friday 16th December 2016 and the only way to submit your question is in the comments section below.
1) Questions are not subject to moderation at this stage but you are asked to keep them civil and in the spirit of the community.
2) Any question deemed to be hostile or not encouraging reasonable discussion will be removed and the poster will be banned from future participation. In short, we’re all here for the same thing, so don’t be a troll.
3) Please prepend your submission with, “Question:”.
4) Submitted questions may be edited down into smaller chunks or merged with others if we feel there’s a need to do so. This being said, all questions will be submitted in their  form for Billingham to answer.
5) If two or more very similar questions are posted, we will endeavour to credit the first person who posted it.
6) If we feel that two or more questions can be combined without losing their original value, we’ll credit each submitter as required.
These guidelines are by no means exhaustive but you can be assured that we’ll keep everything as transparent as possible during the process — see the EMULSIVE x Lomography and EMULSIVE x ILFORD interviews for an example of how this finished interview might appear.
Over to you, let’s see what you’ve got.

About the author

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Founder, overlord, and editor-in-chief at I may be a benevolent gestalt entity but contrary to increasingly popular belief, I am not an AI.

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  1. Hi,
    I really like the look of your bags, but also really want an all-leather bag. Have you ever thought about doing one?

  2. Thank you for this opportunity. I love Billingham bags, but can’t help asking for a few evolutionary updates. Therefore, my two questions are :
    1. Will we ever see a true Hadley (Pro) Small, with a zippered pocket in the back and a handle on top?
    2. Will it be dark/navy blue with black or chocolate leather trim?
    The Hadley Small would be perfect for us rangefinder users as an everyday carrier, with just a few small additional improvements (pockets). The blue is just a personal preference, but it would be nice. Hope more of you agree.

  3. Since Emulsive started this Community Interview I have been doing a lot of investigation about your products. I have learned that once you have a Billingham bag, you scoff at the other, lesser bags. Like Rolex owners snickering at iWatch owners. I really want to tuck my beloved 8×10 into a Billingham Rucksack, but none are large enough. Are there any plans to make larger? Or possibly larger shoulder bags? Or is it possible to have a bag or rucksack custom made for larger equipment?
    Thank you so much for doing this interview. Your openness to this community says a lot about your business and is truly appreciated.

  4. I’ve probably missed the boat on this but I’ve been a committed Billingham user for many years and have several. My commute bag (I work in the City of London) is a black Hadley Pro. I have the Hadley Large Pro for when I want to carry a couple of MF bodies and 3/4 lenses and an old khaki 355 when I want to take even more kit with me. I have an Imperial Blue Hadley Pro for Sunday best!
    My only “gripe” (and a minor one at that) is a lack of customisation options – mainly a means by which to attach a travel tripod to my bags and, perhaps, some more flexible / useable internal dividers.
    I’m also a big fan of canvas as opposed to Fibrenyte (my Hadley Large Pro is Fibrenyte) because canvas just feels better / more durable. What was the thinking behind introducing a synthetic material?

    1. Not at all, Paul. I’m just in the middle of updating the article to reflect an updated deadline for submissions 😀 Thanks very much for your question and please do help spread the word!

  5. I thought about this for a bit and really couldn’t come up with anything to contribute.
    I have 3 of their bags, from a small, discrete street-shooting bag through to a huge hold-all, and each of them is terrific at what it does.
    The materials used are second to none. They’re sturdy, waterproof, stain resistant and in attractive colours. The protection provided, flexibility of the inserts is all perfect too.
    In use, they do exactly what they should with no fuss. No velcro sounds as the bag opens. No faffing with rain covers. Secure, one-handed fastening. They shape around the body to keep low profile… I could go on.
    My one message to them ‘Please keep doing what you’re doing.’

  6. One more question. With lots of people shooting film have you thought of enhancing your inserts to cater for us? I.e film roll holders, polariod developing pockets etc etc

  7. My question is I am on the look out for a camera bag & Billingham are on the shortlist. When you see a Billingham bag out on the street it is instantly recognisable. From a brand perspective this is great for you. However I carry my camera(s) most days including to & from work & evenings out after work. Thus firstly I don’t really want a bag that looks like a camera bag & secondly as I wear a suit to work I want to complement my office wear. Would Billingham ever think about producing a more ‘lifestyle’ bag with the same build quality & thought that goes into your current range?

  8. This is amazing news and as a Billingham fan, I’m delighted that they’re getting involved with the film community.
    I don’t have a question but here’s my Billingham story:
    Last year, I bought something (I don’t remember what) using my Barclaycard. The transaction was delayed while they ran a security check that involved contacting me. Unfortunately, I wasn’t available, the transaction was delayed and I didn’t get my stuff. So I complained to Barclaycard and they gave me (surprisingly generous) compensation. Because of this good fortune, I decided to treat myself to something that I might not normally afford, and bought a Billingham Hadley large. I was delighted with it – great styling, performance and awesome quality.
    I took a picture of my new bag and entered into their Christmas Card Competition. I won! And unbelievably, the prize was a Billingham bag of my choice! I chose a larger 555 model and it instantly became one of my most treasured possessions.
    Billingham were great people to deal with throughout. Obviously dedicated to the very best quality product and perfect customer service. Someone will be very lucky to have Billingham as their secret Santa…