Some might not know, but for decades, the camera carry manufacturing industry thrived in Israel. Then, a couple of years ago, company mergers altered the otherwise booming scene. Prompted by the downsizing, in a field of players largely concerned with more traditional camera carry solutions, a new brand has risen from the stack, quickly etching out a reputation for tackling design problems that have never been adequately addressed. Israeli brand Miggo just may have solved an age-old photographic carry dilemma – the hindrance of a lugging around a chunky, cumbersome camera carry bag. A problem worth solving.
Yuval Camp, Ohad Cohen and Guy Sprukt are no strangers to solving problems, or to success. For years, the three worked in senior positions in the bags division of Manfrotto, one of the most successful and innovative camera accessory companies in the world. When their Israel office transferred to Italy in 2013 – part of a broader merger involving the buy up of rival accessory brand Kata – their division closed in Isreal, leaving Yuval, Ohad and Guy free to explore new opportunities.
“We had years of combined experience in developing camera cases and bags,” says Guy, “and a passion to bring to market a new concept for carrying cameras around.”
Next to painstaking edits on Photoshop, it’s fair to say that carting a camera around is perhaps the least thrilling aspect of photography. It’s every photographer’s bane, from the amateur snapper to the bonafide professional – the problem at the heart of the Miggo solution.
Yuval, Ohad and Guy recognized that most amateur photographers only carry a camera with a single lens, and they don’t necessarily want to do it with a bulky camera bag. “Conventional camera bags are great if you have a lot of gear, but they become too bulky, noticeable and sort of outmoded when all you want is to carry one camera,” adds Guy.
But what about the issue of protection? DSLRs, and most smaller models are, after all, delicate, pricey units; you’d no sooner lump your Sony A7 in with the sundry mish mash floating around your daily backpack than you would, say, a naked, unsheathed MacBook (or your Faberge egg collection).
The former colleagues banded together to fuse their expertise and drive, and they took an old problem and looked at it in a fresh way: what if a camera’s strap could metamorphose into some sort of protective cocoon, thus rendering the run of the mill kitbag obsolete?
After accumulating over 50 different prototypes, the crew refined Miggo, a Neoprene strap that wraps around your camera, sort of like a shock-resistant wetsuit.
“Like many similar situations, the idea came quickly but development and production of the final product took some time. We had to deal with problems such as matching the product to as many cameras as possible, sourcing high-quality materials, the development of a special connection screw, and a combination of different production techniques such as sewing, gluing, laser cutting and more,” says Guy.
On sight, Miggo is a pretty nifty contraption. It comes in two different designs – the strap & wrap, and the grip & wrap, the former employing a shoulder strap and the latter built for the wrist. It can handle any Mirrorless CSC, superzoom, and small to medium DSLRs, with compact point and shoot, and large professional DSLR straps on their way soon. Bird watchers and hunters can rejoice and get in on the action too with Miggo’s specialized binocular model.
The selling point is functionality. If rave reviews from Huffington Post, LA Times and a number of high profile photographic magazines are anything to go by, these straps are protective and malleable enough for any snap-happy street wanderer to feel good about shirking their hefty case and let their delicate camera ride free and easy in with the rest of their kit. Scratches? Heavy blows? It’s all about the neoprene, Guy assures. Nothing to worry about inside that sweet cocoon.
It’s only been a little over a year, but already Miggo is making waves in the international market, largely off the back of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. “That really blew us away,” says Guy. “We started the campaign without knowing what to expect, because this kind of product was never on the market before, and in two days we reached the original funding goal, supported by over 1,500 people.”
Researching the brand, I noticed that Miggo is based just outside Jerusalem in an Arab village called Abu Ghosh. I pictured temples and barren hills, modern tensions fuelled by the ramifications of political history. Guy deepens my insight. “The village is a symbol of true coexistence between Jews, Muslims and Christians. We are proud to be part of this community. The street where we are located is called the “Road of Peace”. Hopefully a sign for the future, we agree.
For Miggo, the future is looking bright. In less than a year, Guy and the crew have moved over 50,000 units to thirty different countries around the world. Innovation and new ideas continue to thrust the company’s engine into new terrain. In early June, they’ll be Kickstarting another product, Miggo Agua – a storm-proof camera-carrier that enables quick camera draw, Miggo’s advanced, element-defying sibling. “Today we’re expanding our activity a bit beyond photography, such as the ‘outdoor’ market. We have plans to go even further.” Guy adds.
The world and industry of photography has, as Susan Sontag might agree, reached a paradoxical moment. The amount of photographs produced each day is beyond imaginary – all the while, more and more people are abandoning traditional cameras for the continually improving quality of smartphones. Does this spell the end of the camera bag as we know it?
Guy is thoughtful on the matter. “We don’t see cameras disappearing completely in the near future and therefore there is still place for camera carriers, but the thinking has to be a bit different – and that’s what we’re trying to do.”