As we start to move from indoor youth sports photography with its emphasis on fast, prime lenses and high ISOs to the wonderful, abundant light of the great outdoors, I wanted to remind all you Parents With Cameras about a few basics.
First, be sure you’re properly holding your digital SLR. Grab the camera body with your right hand and use your left hand to cradle under the lens. This gives you the best stability. Think of yourself as a tripod and try to keep your body as steady as possible. Take a breath in and squeeze the shutter button, don’t jerk it or the camera. Think smooth!
Second, buy a comfortable camera strap. I like to use a hand strap, because the neck variety bothers me. What about the neck strap emblazoned with the manufacturer’s name that comes with the camera? Two things: It’s usually very uncomfortable, and “Nikon” or “Canon” means “steal me” to thieves. Look for a strap that has some cushion. Your neck will thank you!
Third, camera batteries seem to be programmed to die the minute you’re about to shoot the most-amazing photo. Buy an extra and keep it charged and with you. Every photographer (including me, sadly) has been stuck with a dead battery and no backup during an event.
Speaking of extras, be sure you have an additional memory card or two. Fortunately, they continue to plummet in price, so it’s easy to stock up. I love the 8GB size, but 4GB cards also work well. Again, remember to keep that extra card with you when you’re shooting. Unfortunately, memory cards also can die.
So how are you supposed to carry all this stuff? Pockets can be useful, but bags often are better. I will admit that I’m somewhat of a . . . ahem! . . . camera bag collector. I do have a bunch of them. For me, there’s no one perfect bag, because each time I shoot I use a different set of lenses.
For indoor photography with shorter lenses, I tend to use a shoulder bag that I wear crosswise over my body, the better to always keep it on me (so I don’t forget it, plus no one can grab it and run away). I like bags that have a lot of pockets, especially ones on the side for water bottles.
Outdoors, I opt for a ThinkTank Speed Demon beltpack that keeps everything I need comfortably around my waist. After awhile, shoulder and sling bags dig into my neck, and I spend more time trying to adjust them than shooting. The beltpack is perfect, because I can add modular cases to its sides that hold extra lenses. It’s so versatile! Sometimes I’ll just use a camera belt that the modular cases attach to if I don’t need the extra space of the Speed Demon.
A nonaffiliated word about ThinkTank Photo: Yes, its equipment is expensive. But it works so well and makes shooting easier, so for me it’s been well worth the investment. The company was started by photographers, and they seem to know what works best.
Now go out there and accessorize for photographic success!
P.S. Any questions or feedback? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments!