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The Conundrum of Shooting with a Tripod or Not

Curated content from Photofocus.

From the course: Portrait Photography: Business Portraits on LinkedIn Learning

Shooting on a tripod or off from Portrait Photography: Business Portraits by Robert Vanelli

Course transcript

Shooting with a tripod has many benefits, especially if you’re new to photography. What it does is help you minimize camera shake. Now camera shake is when you take that photo and the eyes look blurry. But you know you’re focused right on the eyes, you’re at the dead center. But for some reason, it looks too blurry. Usually, that’s because you’re shaking the camera a little bit, and that’s going to cause the blur in the images. Shooting on a tripod is going to help minimize that. Now, if you’re photographing an entire company, let’s say a real estate company, if you’re photographing every member and there’s 72 of them, a tripod is going to save a lot of wear and tear on your body because you’re able to set it up, bring the subject in, take the shot, then bring in the next person time after time. The focus will be consistent all the way through—from the first shot all the way to the last.

Keep in mind that a lot of great professionals shoot on tripods. It’s a personal preference. For myself, sometimes I like using a tripod and at other times, I like to be handheld. If I’m handheld, I just feel like I have more control over the set. Again, it’s a personal preference. But if I were shooting a large group, I’m going to stick with that tripod—just for the wear and tear on my body. The first rule when you’re shooting handheld is you have to watch your shutter speed. We’re shooting with an 85mm lens, so a good rule of thumb is your shutter speed should equal the longest distance of your lens.

So if we were shooting with a 200mm lens, let’s say a 70-200, my shutter speed—if I’m holding it handheld—should be around 200. In this case, we are shooting at 85mm, so I have it set at 1/125 of a second. I like shooting handheld because I can move in and out with my subject, I have the lights set up exactly where I want them, and I’m trying to pull some of the emotions out of the subject. So sometimes I may have to drop a little bit lower or come up a little bit higher, or swing to the left, or swing to the right—and when I’m shooting handheld, it gives me a little more flexibility on where I can shoot from.

For a tripod, we’re going to use a quick release. So if I’m in the middle of shooting and I like the shot I have set, I can keep my camera in a fixed position. If I want to take my camera off the tripod and go handheld, I’d simply just twist the lever and now I’m set to start shooting. If I want to put it back on, I just put it back on, lock it into place, and I’m good to go.

Gear recommended in this article can be found on B&H Photo & Video

3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket

Tripod Head for Still Photography

Top Rated Tripods

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