Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lets be careful out there

Recently I mentioned in a couple of Facebook groups full of photographers that in addition to taking a few photographs I am also a qualified Physiotherapist and was curious to see if anyone felt that photography caused any injuries, or pain.....well, I was inundated with tales of painful shoulders, necks, backs, fingers and feet, of heavy equipment and difficult environments. So I thought I would offer a little advice to all you photographers who love what they do but sometimes reach for the painkillers at the end of the day!

  • The first thing to always remember is that photography is physical.....sounds like a daft thing to say but have a look at the image of these 2 cuties.....they were full of energy, let loose in the fields and I had to keep up with them, carrying my camera , my beast of a lens and lots of other bits and pieces.  Weddings are the same - working 12 hours, on your feet, carrying equipment, with possibly a long drive at the end of the day. So the first rule is to give yourselves credit that you do a physical job!
  • The second rule is to become very self aware - do you already have any injuries that you need to take care of? Is it the middle of your busy wedding season where its difficult to take time out? The common injuries that I have heard of are neck and back pain - these may be longstanding problems that you have had for a while or they could be directly related to what you are doing in your job. My best piece of advice is to take notice of your body - do not ignore pain - if it is not settling then get some advice - get a friend to have a look at the way you shoot - sometimes we get into the weirdest of positions in order to shoot and simple changes in the way we hold ourselves or our cameras can make a huge difference
  • Posture, posture, posture ....getting the hint yet!? While you are reading this - have a think about your posture - bet you are all sitting up tall now! How long have you been sat at the computer? When did you last take a break? Staying on one position puts extra strain on your postural muscles, making them fatigue. Changing position regularly does help, looking at the way you use your computer will help - where is your mouse, how far away is your monitor? 

  • Eyes - I was really surprised that no one mentioned problems with their eyes - they are part of the tools of our trade and the muscles around the eyes can become fatigued like any other. There is a simple 20-20-20 rule to help with this . every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds looking at something 20 feet away - this helps us to re focus our eyes away from the computer screen. Also the longer we stare at the screen then the less we blink and this can dry our eyes making them feel uncomfortable

  • So, what can be done to manage your aches and pains! Look after yourself, take regular breaks, make sure that you are fit for your job. Again this may sound like very simple advice but it works, if you are exhausted at the end of a shoot and have muscle pain the day after then the simple answer could be to get some more exercise, increase your stamina and fitness and also your strength to be able to handle your camera equipment without straining. Swimming, cycling and walking are the best ways to gradually increase your fitness level and take advice from fitness professionals at your local gym to tailor an exercise programme for you. Obviously if you have any concerns you MUST speak to your GP about starting an exercise programme
  • Talk to a Physiotherapist is you have injuries - this is the governing body of Physiotherapists and there is some great advice on there for you. 

I hope that you have found this useful - it is only some general advice and your GP and Physiotherapist can advise you in more detail.

So, as Captain Furillo used to say In Hill Street Blues- 'Lets be careful out there'!......boy am I showing my age :) 
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Apple Photography said...

Thanks for the great advice

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