Think Tank Photo designs camera bag solutions for working professionals. Our products are born from the collaborative efforts of professional photographers and product designers, working together with a common goal — to create the most inventive and effective solutions for all photographic situations. We go to great lengths to listen to our core customers and translate their feedback in everything we create.
The company was founded in January 2005 by designers Doug Murdoch and Mike Sturm, and 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 the company’s culture and mission of creating inventive new carrying solutions. Think Tank has created a string of innovations since 2005 unmatched by their competitors.
Quality is in the details. We take great pride in knowing that our products can handle all types of conditions that may occur during a photography assignment. Our philosophy is simple: our products should enhance, not distract, from capturing the moment.
Doug Murdoch - Chief Designer & CEO
With his extensive experience producing sewn products for well-known companies, Doug is a visionary who is considered one of the leading product designers in the camera bag industry. Coupled with his dedication to quality, Doug adds that extra 3% that makes the difference between an average and an excellent product. From reinforced stitching to self-healing YKK zippers, the small things make the biggest difference.
Doug will tell you that quality is something the customer experiences. He and his staff of expert designers put a great deal of effort into quality so our customers don’t have to worry about it. His secret is listening to our customers and responding with solutions that meet their needs and support their creative workflow. At the end of the day, it’s all about capturing the moment, and Doug is focused on helping photographers be ready when that time comes.
Mike Sturm - Senior Designer
Mike has a passion for developing and improving Think Tank products. In the past 25 years, he has created over 1000 different products. Working from his studio in Redding, CA, Mike spends his time constantly innovating new ideas and testing them rigorously against all the different scenarios that photographers encounter when they work and travel. Whether he’s soaking a backpack in the river or tossing a roller out the back of his pick-up, Mike ensures our quality and designs will stand up to the test of even the most extreme conditions.
Dedication is a big part of the never-ending pursuit for the perfect bag, product, or workflow. It can take years to come up with a great solution, or it can happen quickly. But generally, there is a huge amount of knowledge, wisdom, training, and failures that make it look easy.
Deanne Fitzmaurice - Photographer
Deanne is a Pulitzer Prize winning documentary photographer and multimedia storyteller based in San Francisco, California. Known for her behind-the-scenes work, she is a regular contributor to Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine, and is an assignment photographer for National Geographic as well as numerous other publications. Deanne has been published in TIME, Newsweek, The Economist, Der Spiegel, Stern, GEO and Men’s Journal. She has also partnered with foundations and non-profits including NPR, UCSF, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the James Irvine Foundation. Deanne has also created multimedia pieces for clients including MSNBC and the ACLU. Her commercial clients include Apple, Nike, Netflix, Mazda, Target, Avon, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola.
Kurt Rogers – Photographer
As a longtime photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Kurt has seen the photography world change radically over the years. From the days of chartering airplanes to send his film back to the newspaper to editing film on the flight back from a 49ers game, Kurt’s ability to adopt new technology and “get the story” made him an ideal contributor to the Think Tank concept. In fact, Kurt originally designed his own camera carrying solution in the back of his car, drawing the attention of other photographers who were struggling to travel with an immense array of camera gear.
Today, Kurt is one of our leading evangelists, promoting Think Tank products at events around the world. He also contributes his vast talents to multimedia productions featured at tradeshows, in retail stores, on websites and through social media outlets. When asked, “What’s next in photography?” Kurt will tell you that storytelling will never go away. Whether it’s a still image or a full-length feature film, it’s about the moment when all the elements all come together to create magic.
It has been 10 years since we started the company, but our dedication 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.
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.
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 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.
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.