Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers

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The obsession with photographic equipment means that sometimes we care more about the camera and accessories than ourselves. Nevertheless, bad habits and inadequate (or badly transported) equipment can be the cause of many health issues that inevitably affect our photographic practice. Therefore we suggest to offer you a number of tips to avoid injuries and other damages.

Herniated discs, muscle spasms, tendinitis, rotator cuff syndrome, or carpal tunnel syndrome are some of the problems we can experience through our photographic practice, especially when this is a job rather than a hobby. Especially for the unnatural postures that we take and for a poor selection of gear or bags in which we transport them.

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers

For example, all of this can affect our back, as we talked about a few months ago.  Similarly, we have recently talked about the importance of looking after our eyes and offered a series of exercises to take care of them.

This time we will finish with more possible scenarios. For example, holding a camera with a certain weight too long or stooping or throwing on the ground to get a different perspective.

Situations like these can cause serious problems if they persist for a long time and easily lead to more or less useless injuries. And the worst part is that most photographers do not realize it until this happens, and we do not say that “it’s better to prevent than to cure.”

The transport bag

The variety of bags and backpacks that our photographic equipment can carry is enormous, but are they all suitable for us? Certainly not, although the use of one kind or another depends on the type of work we do, but also on our own size.

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers
Photo of Sead Dedić

And is that many bags are too large, according to who, because a person should avoid carrying more than 10 percent of their body weight, which means, for example, a weight of eight kilograms for a person weighing 80. Never more than that will be charged, though the usual is that we carry a lot more. Therefore, the first advice is to make sure that we do not take more than necessary or overload the backpack.

On the other hand, regardless of the total weight, the balance of content is important. It is therefore ideal to opt for bags and rucksacks whose compartments are symmetrical, so that the weight is balanced. Therefore, we need to avoid backpacks with large pockets on the sides that allow us to carry more weight on one side than on the other.

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers
Photo of Lucija Ros

Nevertheless, backpacks are generally much more recommendable to carry a certain weight than shoulder bags  because they allow the weight to be spread over both shoulders, although it is important to pay attention to how we wear it. A falling backpack that hangs too low is harmful to us and can cause injury by causing great tension in the lower back, shoulders and neck.

So the key is that the closer the body is to the backpack, the better the straps are, so that it is well attached to the body and the bottom of the backpack does not protrude much from our ribs. If you need to carry a very heavy backpack, it is advisable not to do so for more than 20 minutes in a row and to take breaks between these times to avoid muscle fatigue. And if we have no choice but to always go with a lot of equipment, the best thing is a suitcase / trolley with wheels.

Work habits

Another aspect that has a remarkable impact on our susceptibility to injury is undoubtedly the way we use photographic equipment, especially the way we hold the camera and lenses, and that can lead to repeated strain. For example, by holding the equipment with a single muscle group (as a single arm).

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers

In this sense, it is important to reduce the weight we support by using different solutions. For one, we use a tripod or a monopod when shooting with a heavy telephoto lens, which allows us to lose our muscles. Another grip adds a grip to our camera, so vertical shots are much more comfortable for us and we do not need to stretch the arm too much.

It is also very harmful to carry the camera around the neck for a long time (causing neck pain). It is therefore recommended to use other types of straps (eg wrist or shoulder strap) or to take the camera with the wrapped strap around the wrist.

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers
Photo of Alexandre Croussette

In short, the fundamental advice in this case is to try to realize what we are doing wrong and try to change the wrong way in which we are incurring.

A good physical shape

Finally, we have to talk about something that we already identify as a key element in preventing back pain. As you have already guessed, it is important to exercise regularly and to maintain a good physical condition. And we usually underestimate the harmful consequences of our photographic practice or, even when we are professionals, we are sometimes so tired of our work that the last thing we think when we are done is exercise.

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers
Photo of Bruce Mars

However, regular exercise is the best way to avoid the side effects mentioned. Among the recommended exercises we have to assume that it is merely the general strengthening of the muscles (which will undoubtedly have a general positive effect), although the exercises to strengthen the neck, back and buttocks are the most recommendable. However, some experts recommend practicing yoga as it generally has a positive effect on the muscles.

The typical routes of this sport are highly recommended for photographers in general and should be done well before a photo shoot. On the other hand, it is also important to drink plenty of water to maintain good hydration. It may seem stupid, but when you are dehydrated, the body suffers more, especially the soft tissues and joints.

Tips and tricks to take care of our health as photographers
Photo of Tiago Aguiar

Cover photo | Trần Toàn

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