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Gary Etheridge - The Luckiest Bag in the World



We recently ran a competition asking for the best customer stories in celebration of Billingham's 50th anniversary. We are pleased today to announce the second of our winners, Gary Etheridge. We are extremely grateful to him for sharing the story of his lucky Hadley Pro Camera Bag.


My story starts several years ago now on a road trip across the USA with my friend Peter. Little did I know my Hadley Pro in camouflage was to be the luckiest bag I'd ever possess. Up until that point I'd battled with many inferior bags that for whatever reason just did not hit the mark. Finally landing on the Hadley Pro I knew I had something special.


Billingham Hadley Pro Camera Bag Sage FibreNyte Camo/Chocolate Leather
My lucky Hadley Pro Camera Bag [Sage FibreNyte with Camo Front with optional SP40 shoulder pad] and my Mamiya 7 medium format camera, my Canon F1N, my Widelux and my Rollei 35.


During our USA road trip Peter and I stopped at a diner for some breakfast in Flagstaff after an early morning shoot of the town and some of its sights. I was leaving the diner when I'd forgot to take my bag with me. As I left the diner the lady who had been serving me called me back with my bag in her hand, letting me know if forgot it. Now this to most may not be considered luck, and may just be the happenings of an absent minded Englishman but as time went on I realised this bag really is the luckiest bag I've ever experienced.

Later on in the trip we stopped off at Monument Valley to photograph the valley at sunrise. We'd driven down into the valley in a white Dodge Challenger we'd rented for the trip. We pulled over and got out to wander around and set up for that mornings shoot in the valley. 


A photograph of the Dodge Challenger in Death Valley by Gary Etheridge.


The sun was still low and it was a little dark. 


Monument Valley by Gary Etheridge
Monument Valley by Gary Etheridge.


I grabbed my Hadley Pro and a tripod to set up for the sunrise and having taken my camera out of the bag thought I'd place it on a small boulder behind me to sit on as insulation as it was pretty cold. I sat down on my Hadley Pro on the boulder and started shooting as the sun rose. I was using my Hasselblad 500CM, which fitted perfecting in the Hadley. Peter was shooting with his Mamiya RZ67 and we both ran through several rolls of film before the sun had risen and we were set to go. I uncoupled my Hasselblad from the tripod, stood up and placed it back in my Hadley, which been serving as my pillow to sit on. When I lifted the Hadley from the boulder Peter noticed a squashed scorpion on the boulder I had been sitting on. My Hadley had seemingly protected me from a nasty sting and again this lucky little bag had proven a faithful friend. The rest of the trip went on well without many hiccups and we both returned home.


Monument Valley by Gary Etheridge.
Monument Valley by Gary Etheridge.


A year or so later I found myself up in New York for a work trip and I took my Hadley with me and a couple of my Leica's; my M7 and M-TYP 240. It was cold and icy and I thought I'd take advantage of an early finish and wander down into Greenwich Village to shoot with the Leicas. I love Greenwich and really love strolling around New York, there's so much to see and the Hadley is the perfect bag for a trip like this. I'd just stopped off at Cafe Henri, one of my favourite spots to grab a hot chocolate and gather your thoughts. I finished my hot chocolate and wandered back out down through the maze of streets that meander around down there. It had snowed the night before and was still cold and windy, but it was great to shoot and capture life on the streets. As I was walking around the corner from Cafe Henri my Hadley Pro caught itself on a bicycle that was chained to a tree in one of those cast iron railings that surrounded the tree. It stopped me abruptly and I struggled for a few seconds trying to unattached it from the handle bars. I remembered somehow thinking it was annoying and hard to tackle in the cold icy weather. As I was struggling to release the bag from the tangle a large chunk of ice fell from one of the above buildings and smashed to the ground right about where I would have been if not battling with the snag. Now call it luck or what you will, yet again this little gem was looking out for me.



T. Hargrove Fly Fishing with Land Rover. By Gary Etheridge.
T. Hargrove Fly Fishing in St. Louis, Missouri. A stop on Gary's USA trip.


Some years later I was on family vacation up on Cape Cod and I always take my Hadley Pro with me when I go as it packs down well in my larger carry on and is light weight enough to carry around all day and not be a burden. Plus I like to fly fish out on the ocean off the Chatham and the Hadley doubles up as a great tackle bag too.


Chatham Beach Cape Cod.


My two sons, my wife and I had been out for a long walk along the beach and was hungry so we decided to go and grab lunch at the Lost Dog pub in Orleans. We ordered fish and chips and all felt better for the food and drinks. We paid and then walked out to our car when again the young girl who'd been serving us ran out clutching my Hadley Pro.


 Hadley Pro in Sage FibreNyte with Camo front with Hasselblad 500CM and Leica M cameras.
Hadley Pro Camera Bag in Sage FibreNyte with Camo front with Hasselblad 500CM and Leica M cameras.


It would seem that this bag has a bond with me and I hope I never lose it ever.  I have had so many comments about the camouflage pattern and it has been a great talking point over the years but more than anything else it's the luckiest bag in the world.

Sincere thanks,

Gary Etheridge


 The bag featured in this article:

Billingham Hadley Pro Camera Bag (Khaki Canvas / Tan Leather)

Hadley Pro Camera Bag

Please note that we no longer make this bag with the camouflage fabric shown in the first and last photo.  



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