Hello! My name is Alexia and I am a 17 year old professional photographer based out of North Carolina and I have something called EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome)
EDS makes a lot of my joints pop in and out of place and also causes a lot of chronic pain. Because of this I have to be very careful with the gear I choose to shoot with as carrying a lot of weight for long periods of time does cause my body to hurt a lot after. Though I photograph all styles of photography, my main love is concert photography , which typically means lots of weight. So I figured I would create a list of different things that I use that make shooting with a chronic illness, and chronic pain, much easier.
1. Double Harness Camera Strap
Though a double harness seems like a lot if you only have one camera body , it works wonders with for combating shoulder and back pain. The harness distributes weight much differently than a single strap, or a neck strap, and helps to not feel the ache so relievems much of the ache you would feel later. I typically wear my harness even when I’m only shooting with one of my camera bodies and that is because it is much more comfortable for me personally.
Blackrapid Breathe Double Camera Harness: http://www.blackrapid.com/Double-Breathe
2. A Comfortable And Lightweight Camera Bag
This is one I don’t think is often times thought of : the The wrong camera bag can cause all over body pain . This is especially true for a concert photographer, or any photographer that is strapped to their gear for hours, who shoots music festivals and you’re out on the grounds all day. You typically are carrying several lenses and likely multiple bodies so having a bag that is comfortable is key. Personally I used to use a Canon backpack style bag, as I found the messenger bags tended to cause shoulder and neck pain for me. The Canon bag however was also rather painful and ended up causing pain in my entire back as well so I finally ended up upgrading to a Think Tank backpack which is much slimmer and is much more comfortable to carry in comparison to my old bags. Though I know that bookbags aren’t very comfortable for everyone there is a massive selection of both bookbag style and messenger style on amazon.
Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro V2.0 Backpack: https://www.thinktankphoto.com/collections/streetwalker-series/products/streetwalker-pro-v2
Timbuk2 ACE Hiking Daypack: https://www.timbuk2.com/products/1515-camera-sling-bag?variant=12733954719786
3. Light Weight Camera Bodies
This isn’t always the easiest or budget friendly thing , but lightweight cameras can be lifesavers for photographers that have wrist pain. I myself personally have pretty bad wrist pain in both my wrists and have to shoot with wrist braces. I shoot with a Nikon D7200 and a Nikon D3300 (both crop sensors) and I still have issues with their weight. For people with wrist issues something I have found that I myself am hoping to upgrade to eventually is an Olympus Mirrorless. Although On the more expensive side of the cameras, the Olympus mirrorless bring beautiful images to life and are also easy on the joints.
Olympus PEN F: https://www.getolympus.com/us/en/digitalcameras/pen-f.html
Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark ii: https://www.getolympus.com/us/en/digitalcameras/e-m1-mark-ii.html
Not exactly camera equipment , but specific braces can work wonders if you have issues with your wrists and such. Again, I personally shoot in at least one wrist brace, and I know from personal experience if I didn’t I would end up being in pain for several days after. I know that braces aren’t always the most appealing thing, or always comfortable , to wear to a photo session or concert, but taking care of your body is far more important than hurting yourself with your gear. Besides, I want to be able to do photography for all my years to come.
5. Comfortable Shoes
For me personally this is a very big thing for me when shooting. I have hip problems and have had double hip surgeries , so my legs and hips do tend to hurt a lot after shooting a festival or long concert . so I also have super hyper mobile, or crazy flexible feet, so I always make sure to wear comfortable shoes and custom orthotic inserts. I also have some sensory issues too, so finding good shoes that I can tolerate has been difficult .as I often times do not like how the seams in shoes feel which is where a good orthotic comes into play. Which is why I prefer Converse. Good shoe orthotic inserts can go into most any closed toed shoe usually and make them super comfortable. For me personally I personally usually wear Converse Sneakers to shoot in with the inserts and I usually don’t have any kind of pain with them.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars: https://www.nike.com/t/converse-chuck-taylor-all-star-high-top-unisex-shoe-xX439O/M9160-000
6. Bring A Helper If You Can
Now I know this isn’t always an option for some people but it is a very helpful one if you have the ability to do so. Bring someone with you to shoots as an assistant. It can be very helpful with handling all your gear and making sure you don’t over do it , especially if you shoot music festivals. I always have my dad go to festivals with me. and it He is a major help because I’m not sure how I would really handle carrying the 50 plus pounds of gear for 12 hours alone.
I hope that these tips are helpful to both photographers with chronic illnesses and those who don’t have them! I know that being a photographer with health problems or joint pain can be a very difficult task sometimes but it is absolutely not impossible. Adapt and work with yourself and make it doable as much as you can. I promise it gets easier. and your body will be healthier for it.