Exposed! :: The lonely tripod ::

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It happens a lot.

I ask students to bring a tripod for many of our workshops and the students spend the day carrying their tripods over their shoulder instead of setting it up under their camera.

I ask why?

"Oh, it's a pain to set up."
"It takes too long."
"I don't like using it."
"I don't need it."


Yes, it's quite possibly the most unsexy piece of photo equipment — cumbersome, awkward and time consuming to set up. But for certain types of photography a tripod is absolutely necessary.

In this edition of Exposed! we shed some light on the lonely, overlooked tripod - when to take the tripod and when to leave it at home.

Using a tripod
France Rivet photograph of Claus Vogel using his tripod!


Portraits and tripods sometimes mix:

I do not use a tripod for casual portraits. In these cases, I want to be able to move and create on the fly - not so conducive to tripod use.

However, when I am creating more formal portraits, I may use the tripod - not to keep the camera steady but to make sure that the formal portraits are framed exactly the way I want or that a set of portraits are framed the same way.

I'll also use the tripod as a convenient stand to place my camera as I do other tasks.


Fly-by shootings can be done without a tripod, but if you want quality, WOW landscapes, there is no question. A tripod is needed.


A tripod gives you:

The execution may be a "pain in the neck" but the results can make jaws drop and get you noticed.

photo of hosta
Landscape shots are better with tripods

Photojournalism and Social Documentary Work

Ok, if you don't like tripods this is for you!

Photojournalists and social documentary photographers capture stories and moments that are often spontaneous and on-the-fly.

A tripod would just get in the way. Moments would disappear before you ever got one tripod leg set up. This is definitely the time to leave the tripod at home.

Pro Perspective

Different photographers have different needs:

When do I use a tripod?
When I want precision.

When do I leave it at home?
Well, almost never. My main tripod lives in the car so it's always with me wherever I go. Really!


Today your homework is simple:
For quality landscapes use your tripod!!

Final Frame

Show your tripod some love. For certain photo work it is worth its weight in gold.

Take photos. Have fun.