I posted some behind the scenes “Tripod Diaries” on my IG stories from my recent trip to NYC, during my first New York Fashion Week and you guys collectively said, “give us MORE!”. Who knew that acting like a fool on the streets of NYC would be such a hit. So, here it is, my big ole GET YOUR TRIPOD ON GIRL blog post! I’m sharing a full step by step on how I take my tripod photos, as well as some ‘pro’ tips on getting a great shot! Grab a coffee, get excited and let’s chat tripod fun!
STEP ONE – GET YOUR GEAR!
This is a full list of the equipment I use, however you don’t need to spend 2k on a fancy camera, this is about learning a process! So, whatever your camera is, or even if you are shooting with an iPhone (which seemingly everyone and their mother is now turning to for their blog pics) as long as you have a tripod with a camera and a remote, you’re good to go! I love this canon remote because it is tiny and has an easy 1 or 2 second delay option. I always use the 2 second option!
STEP TWO – WHEN TO SHOOT
Yes YES I get it, you’re not a morning person, but are you an “I want to get some epic shots without a million people in them!” person? Then get your butt up on a weekend, chug a coffee and let’s roll. I promise you, shooting with a tripod early in the morning (preferably right after sunrise) is 100% better than doing it later in the day, especially if you are trying to shoot in a busy city! It will also save you if you are not a photography expert. It’s way easier to shoot in the early morning light than at noon, when the sun is beaming down on you from every direction. But ok, if you just can’t seem to get out there early in the morning, then go for a later afternoon shoot or always find a spot that is in the shade. Direct light is a photo killer. (unless you’re a pro then by all means be my guest!)
STEP THREE – FIND YOUR SPOT
Try to scout out your location ahead of time, so you know the lighting situation you’ll be dealing with. (yes lighting is key all the way around) Is the street you’re on, the side which will get hit with light right at sunrise or will you have it made it the shade until past 10am there? This is where some planning will definitely save you, especially if you’re traveling and want to take photos at a very specific location. There’s a great app I use called SUN SURVEYOR which lets you preview light by simply typing in an address of your street. Seriously a life saver! I can tell you too many stories where I was devasted to find an amazing spot I’ve had saved on Pinterest forever, that looked like crap in my photos because it was the wrong time of day to shoot there!
If you are shooting at a regular ole spot around town, it’s much less complicated. Try to find a street that’s at least a bit out of the way. I loved using this street in NYC because it dead ends so I knew I’d be able to place my tripod virtually anywhere, a huge plus!
An important thing to note is no matter where you shoot, you do not want to be the ahole who is in people’s way (also why you want to shoot as early as possible!) If you are shooting on the Brooklyn bridge, don’t expect to set up your gear in the middle of the pathway…..no matter the time of day, your camera will get knocked over by a biker in 2 seconds. When shooting in a busy area, I try to find a spot that 1) will be out of the way of passersby and 2) will be a safe spot for my gear! So, if you are shooting on a busy bridge, find a little spot right next to a bench, or a dip where you can place your tripod, to make it as inconspicuous as possible. Don’t worry, you can still get a great shot, it might even look cooler at a less expected angle.
STEP FOUR – SET UP YOUR SHOT
Keep your flats on for this boo, no need to stumble back and forth in your heels while you’re trying to set up your shot! I usually do the following:
1) I set up my lighting without me in the shot (I keep the aperture low if I want to blur out the background a bit) and then bump the ISO up or down depending on how bright it is. I like my pics on the lighter side. (Some good insight on aperture and ISO here)
2) After you have set up the initial settings, take a few shots of yourself to test the lighting and focus. I usually choose to set my focus on ‘automatic selection’ (as shown in the left pic below) instead of ‘single point manual’. It gives you more room for error, though you do lose that depth of field where you can create the most background blur. If you really want to have a lot of background blur, no problem. You can still achieve this with a tripod. Set your focus to manual mode and find your exact focus point of the shot. (usually where your head would be) Manually zoom in on that spot, take a picture, to make sure you are grabbing the spot you want with the focus. This is only possible if you will have something to stand against like a pole, or a bridge railing. Otherwise the camera won’t be able to find a focus point. Now zoom out and stand in that exact spot (see, not much room for error!) A bit more complicated, but again, practice makes perfect. And once you nail your spot, you’ll get a perfect professional looking shot! My personal preference is to use auto focus and only using the manual focus mode when shooting accessory close ups. More info on this here.
3) It may take you a few trips back and forth to the tripod to set up your shot. This is time well spent! Better to spend an extra 5 minutes setting up your shot, than hating every pic that’s out of focus or too blown out later. Remember, you are the model AND the photographer here, so you truly are responsible to doing two jobs. But the good news is once you’ve set up your shot, the rest is easy peezy!
STEP FIVE – REMOTE HAND, ugh!!
Just when you think you’re all set, there’s that one pesky little thing. The remote in your hand! UGH!! How are you going to take that perfect shot, when you are stuck holding a remote (little as it may be) in your hand?! Well, here’s the thing. You kind of have to improvise here. Every time I shoot with a remote I end up doing something different. Sometimes I’ll hide the remote in my palm where I’m holding a clutch, or simply turn ¾ to have my arm hidden all together. And sometimes (no joke) I will click it and let it drop out of my hand. Just think of it as getting a couple of extra squats into your day haha. Basically, you do what you have to do here and just improvise based on your shooting situation. Make sure you have your remote set to the 2 second delay instead of one, to give yourself that extra moment to hide it!
STEP SIX – FIND YOUR POSE!
This is the biggest ‘pro’ tip I have for you guys, when it comes to using a tripod. DON’T TRY TO DO IT ALL! In other words, don’t plan on doing 20 different poses and angles and jump all over the place and expect that you will like any of your shots! Trust me it will be a big waste of time. Pick 2-3 poses max per location (tripod location that is. Remember, you’ll have to set up your shot every time you move the tripod). Then do the following: take a photo. Walk over to the camera and take a look. Usually you won’t like how your arm hangs, or that your head is turned just a tiny bit too much. Basically, minor adjustments, which make a big difference. Make the adjustment, take another pic! Stop again! Walk over and take a look. Did you nail it? Or is there still something that bugs you? Make another little tweak. I repeat this up to 5 times (ok sometimes more) and then, once I have my perfect pose down I take my 20 + shots, offering a few slight variations. Sounds tedious? Speaking from experience this will actually be a huge time saver, and once you get your favorite poses down you’ll be a little tripod supermodel!
STEP SEVEN (AND MOST IMPORTANT) – HAVE NO SHAME!!!!
Yes, I repeat! HAVE NO SHAME! Get out of your head and stop thinking that anyone cares about your little photoshoot. Sorry boo they don’t! Yes, people will look, and yes sometimes ask what you’re doing, and hell sometimes offer to take your camera and snap photos for you! (if I had a dollar for every time this happened….) Soooooo what??! Trust me, you will never see these people again, but what you will see over and over again is the epic photo that you were able to get because you gave zero Fs!! So, find your light, get your pose right and do you boo!
Now that you’ve got your seven steps, get out into the wild and start snapping! I’d love love love to hear how it goes! DM me on my IG or tag me in your pics and let’s take some epic shots together!