Who would have thought that a conservation photographer’s strongest shield would be a roll of toilet paper? And yet, says MindShift Gear’s co-founder, renowned conservation photographer Daniel Beltrá, he never ventures into the wilds of the Amazon without it. Operating at the extremes of outdoor photography, Beltrá has exposed environmental degradation at the Earth’s hot spots for decades, often at his own peril. What he’s learned, though, is that should he be caught trying to capture an image—especially by someone with a gun—he can whip out his roll of toilet paper and plead that he simply got lost in the woods.
For most of us who love photographing out-of-doors we will never be confronted by men with guns, and yet, like Beltrá, we are passionate about what we do. That same sense of conviction that Beltrá brings to his photography, he and the co-founders of Think Tank Photo brought to their outdoor photography brand MindShift Gear.
For the founders of Think Tank Photo and MindShift, there is no separating our history from our values. They are bound by a deep and abiding love and concern for the natural world. While our founders and team come from diverse backgrounds (design, conservation advocacy, and outdoor exploration), they are united by a common trait, which is respect for those who live outside of their comfort zones.
Think Tank Photo co-founder, president, and lead designer Doug Murdoch first expressed this trait in his desire to scale Big Walls throughout the western United States. He and fellow designer Mike Sturm led the design team at Lowepro, an outdoor camera bag company, and then co-founded Think Tank Photo, the premier camera bag design firm for those who capture images in extreme conditions. At Think Tank, Mike developed the first rotating backpack, the rotation360°. It was named Professional Photographer’s “Hot One Award” as the industry's best new camera bag for professional application.
It was during a conversation with Daniel Belta, that Doug and Daniel realized the power of rotation as the solution for those recording and exploring the out-of-doors who need to gain quick access to their gear throughout their treks. Fueled by the belief that creating outdoor gear for people like Daniel, whose lives and livelihoods often rest on the ability to gain quick access to their gear, they launched MindShift. MindShift is centered around a conservation ethic and committed to ground-breaking innovation and using only the very best materials.
Joining them early on was me, Brian Erwin. I was an environmental advocate where I was on the team that helped combat acid rain, protect the California Desert, respond to the Exxon Valdez disaster, and build recognition of the threat of Global Warming. I have been with Think Tank Photo since before its founding.
The MindShift outdoor photography brand now has the deepest, most innovative, and best made outdoor photography bags and accessories available. About them Outside Magazine concluded: MindShift “should be the bag of choice for true adventurers.” These include their rotation180° backpack series, which have been named winners of the prestigious OutDoor Industry Award and the Red Dot Award for design excellence. The patented rotation180° technology allows photographers to access their gear quickly by simply rotating the lower part of the backpack—a standalone beltpack—to the front without first having to take off their backpack. With outdoor photography, where moments of visual brilliance can be fleeting, the ability to access essential gear quickly is essential.
MindShift supplemented its backpack series with the most comfortable “Big Glass” backpacks on the market, the FirstLightseries. The largest of these, the FirstLight 40L, will hold up to a 600mm f/4 lens detached. It was created in response to complaints MindShift’s designers had heard over the years from wildlife and landscape photographers about how much pain they endured in trying to carry their biggest lenses deep into the wilds.
At MindShift, we can’t – and don’t – separate who we are from the planet that gives us all life. We vowed to create highly innovative, durable gear that serves those who have an urgent need to raise awareness to the threats to our environment and who explore and enjoy the out-of-doors. We’ve created a company that serves those, like us, who thrive on living outside their comfort zones and who venture deep into the woods armed only with a camera, conviction, and possibly a roll of toilet paper.