Photo Tip #16: Silence the Photo Police (Pt. 9): You Must Use a Tripod!

This is part 9 of the series and there's definitely been a lot of discussion about equipment. This is another one of those discussions. Although their numbers are small, there is certainly a group of photo cops who think you must shoot with a tripod or else! Or else what? Often they believe you can't get a sharp image unless you are shooting with a tripod. This is true if you are not gathering enough light to keep a high shutter speed (relative to your focal length, that is). However this is certainly not the case if you are. Doesn't a tripod help keep your camera steadier? Yes that's what it was made for, but I have seen cases where this has not helped at all. For instance if you are near a road with a lot of traffic or on a bridge, the vibration in the ground will continue to move your tripod and camera.

So are there any benefits to carrying a tripod other than to shoot with slow shutter speeds? Yes, I believe there can be a significant benefit, better composition, maybe. Because tripods are clumsy, they tend to slow us down. Which means you are spending more time looking and studying your image, hopefully this will bring you to a better image... hopefully, but it's not a guarantee.

So why the argument against them? Well tripods even the smallest ones, weigh us down. And let's face it they're a pain, as a result it can also make us lazy and unwilling to change a composition. It's also usually only the most anal (as opposed to the most "serious") who carry these, and because they do, they believe that this is what separates them from the amateurs, who are after all just pointing and shooting. Remember the bigger the hammer the better the picture right? ;) (we can call them the Stasi or perhaps the Agit Prop)

Use a tripod, don't use a tripod, that's really up to you but, just remember it's not always a must. Join us for NYC After Dark and we'll show you how to use a tripod!