3 Things You Can Do To Stay Pain-Free On Long Photo Shoots

3 Things You Can Do To Stay Pain-Free On Long Photo Shoots

Often as photographers we put in long hours on our feet, walk quite a bit, bend, crouch, shimmy and shake all while carrying heavy gear on our shoulders and back. At the end of the day my feet would be sore, my legs tired, my thighs chaffed and my back aching. If you have felt the same way, here are three things that will help you be more comfortable and pain free while out on long shoots.

Let's keep it real and get the most embarrassing one out of the way first. As a wedding photographer in Arizona I do a lot of walking in the heat. Call me big boned, thunder thighs, or just husky, but for whatever reason I tend to get chaffed quite easily between the legs. By the end of the wedding day I am walking around like I'm riding a horse, legs spread apart trying to keep the flaming hot thighs from touching one another. Then I discovered BodyGlide, or as I call it "Heaven on a Stick." Runners are familiar with BodyGlide and that is where you will often find it, in the running section at your local sports store. Typically the deodorant size sticks run about $9 and will be hanging up by the shoes or if you have a Dick's Sporting Goods store near you they often keep the BodyGlide up near the checkout registers.

Fstoppers Body Glide to Stay Comfortable on Long Shoots

This second tip is for those who often experience back pain on the long shoots. Stop carrying all your gear on your back and shoulders and put it on your hips and into a roller bag. One of my absolute favorite accessories that I use on every shoot is my Spider Holster. The Spider Holster allows me to clip my camera onto my belt at anytime allowing me to use both hands to set up a shot or even just take a short break. I now no longer have to wear the camera around my shoulders using a strap and carry the weight there. I also attached a hand strap to my camera so that when I am carrying the camera outside the Spider Holster it fits firmly against my hand without fear of me dropping it.

Fstoppers SpiderHolster to Stay Comfortable on Long Shoots

Another great option is the Capture Pro Camera Clip System by Peak Design. These clips allow you the versatility of adding them wherever you would like so you can have one for your camera and say one for your 70-200mm lens. I did this while shooting along the sidelines of an NFL game and it made it easy for me to keep the lens on hand when I needed it without having to lug around extra gear.

Fstoppers CaptureOne Staying Comfortable on Long Shoots

Another back saver is putting your gear inside a roller bag such as the ThinkTank Airport International bag. This is the one I own and absolutely love. This takes all that weight of carrying a bag of lenses and flashes around and puts it in the convenience of a suitcase on wheels. You might lose some hipster points but your back will thank you for it.

Fstoppers ThinkTank Bag Stay Comfortable on Long Shoots

The last thing to keep you comfortable while on your feet for an extended period of time is compression socks. You've probably seen athletes wearing these over the last couple years. While experts from both sides debate the benefits to the socks their purpose is to apply pressure to your ankles and calves thereby making the veins smaller and increasing the arterial pressure so the blood doesn't just gather below causing your feet and legs to swell. Experts have talked about the benefits of compression socks for passengers of long plane flights and now many are beginning to use them while working on their feet for long periods as well. If you have tired, swollen, cramped legs by the end of your shoots, these guys might just be the key to staying more comfortable.

So there you go, three things to stay pain-free on those long days of shooting photos. Now I'd love to hear your tips in the comments below.

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34 Comments

Previous comments

That is stress! Fix it because otherwise it will get worse - I know!
(My English is not the best but anyway...)Take pauses, stand on both feet but spread them a bit. Straighten up. Release stomach even if it looks ugly,it is your right to feel good. Breathe! And then go on again. And pause again.

Learn how to massage your self. Think of the muscle on the shoulder as a nice, big dough that needs to be prepared.
Sit on a chair, both feets have good contact with the floor, sit ON the ass ;) arms hanging down. You feel that all weight is carried by the ass, not the legs, not the sholders.
Use one hand to get a good grip on the muscle, feel around, work it nice but firm, you need to feel how it eventually lifts of the under lying 'bones', takes about 3-5 min.
When it is 'free', warm and soft, the tension is released - but only temporarily. When you feel safe knowing that you can fix this and find a good working rythm - then it will go away - but you need to remember so when the first tension shows i a busy situation you will recognice and fix :)
If you have a family member maybe you can teach him/her how to help.
Remember that it is a very big muscle, it goes down from the back of the head, on the shoulder and down on your back - that is big - and therefore you can get a lot of pain all over, even problems with the eye sight. Sometimes the tension can start in "the hair" the scalp - just frown alternatively grab the scalp with the palm and force it to move, that will help - but you have to learn to notice the signs. Hope my English works for you :)

Timothy Jace's picture

i suffered from various pains and injury. now i do yoga :) it works w no chemicals into my body and little money spent

LaraH2's picture

one of the things photographers forget to do is keep their core muscles strong. the abdominal muscles are crucial to a good lower back. as are the back muscles. it is necessary to do core exercises and get rid of any tummy that might be stressing those abdominal muscles. my cruddy lower back got much better when i dropped 20 pounds.

Aaron Lee Kafton's picture

My Capture Pro V2 and Propad arrived today. I ordered it for this very reason.