Author Eudora Welty once said, “A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away.” Who among us doesn’t want to be able to capture the important moments in our lives on film?
Although taking photos can be a physical challenge for those coping with aches, pains and lack of flexibility that can accompany arthritis, these sneaky tricks – recommended by fine art photographer Wendy Sacks, who has inflammatory arthritis and gout – can make it easier. (Click here to see her work. Some of her photos will be published in a book in 2015.)
1. Let the camera do the work. Take the strain off of your neck, arms and fingers by choosing a lightweight, auto-focus camera – so there’s no standing around, endlessly fiddling the lens for that perfectly crisp shot, Sacks says. Most cameras include a timer so you can even take some selfies more easily.
2. Be comfy and warm. If you’re in for a long photo session – that portrait for your holiday card, for example – make yourself comfortable. “When I take pictures I wear yoga pants, sneakers and fingerless gloves,” says Sacks. “I want to be as warm and as comfortable as possible so I can move more easily.”
3. Time it right. If you’re tired, it might be difficult to stand and hold a camera. “I take photos early in the morning when I have a lot of energy or later in the day when I’ve rested all day and have thought about the photos I’m going to shoot,” Sacks says.
4. Take a load off. When you take a lot of photos, you realize all the parts of your body that are involved, including your shoulders, says Sacks, who has had both shoulders reconstructed. Keep weight off of the parts of your body that hurt. “Holding my camera bothers my wrist, so I got a special padded wrist strap that holds the camera tight to my hand,” she says. “I also bought a vest that allows me to attach the camera to the front of my body. It holds the weight evenly.” Sacks sometimes wears an apron with pockets to hold items she might need for the shoot. A tripod is another option to relieve weight, she says.
5. Research your shot. Granted, most of us aren’t going to take amazing photos like Sacks’, whose sessions take hours of careful preparation. But if you’re planning to photograph an event – say, a reunion shot in front of those nice trees in your yard – a little reconnaissance can help. “I look at the light three days in advance at the time of day that I’m planning to shoot,” says Sacks. Her photos are lovely, elaborate affairs, often shot in water, but even everyday photos benefit from knowing where shadows will fall or if someone will have the sun shining right in their eyes. “I believe the key to a good photograph is to put more thought into it,” says Sacks. “If you think about it and plan it, you’ll get a better shot and you won’t have to spend a lot of time holding the camera.”
Try a few of the photography tools suggested by Sacks:
• Vest with Velcro to attach camera to front.
• Ergonomic camera strap that distributes weight.
• Padded wrist strap to make gripping more comfortable.
• Apron with pockets to help keep items handy.
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