Starting back for a new trimester for most people can be difficult: for many it means changed sleep schedules, renegotiating work agreements and mentally preparing for a bucketload of stress. For me, this trimester has been particularly challenging to readjust to because I broke my wrist at the end of the very first week, which meant that for the most part of our photography unit, I couldn’t actually handle a camera. Broken bones present many problems for otherwise able people not only physically but also mentally and in my case, academically: if I couldn’t handle a camera, how exactly was I meant to complete the photography course? I don’t yet have a solid answer as I am still in the process of completing it, however through consultation with teachers I managed to participate more in the classes than I thought I would be able to.
Photo taken with SLR camera using tripod
The first solution that was presented to me was to use a tripod to complete my photos. Using a tripod in photography is generally used for landscape photos as it helps to stabilise the camera and get the most crisp image possible. In my case using a tripod had a distinct advantage: I would be able to take photos without physically holding the camera. In practise however, it wasn’t that easy. While the method catered for the camera, setup of the tripod itself as well as all of the lighting had to be completed by others. This wasn’t a huge issue because we would usually set up together anyway, but I didn’t like needing to rely on others to achieve the bare minimum as I have always been quite independent. My main problem lay in the versatility of the tripod as a tool. While it is useful for capturing landscapes, a tripod’s usefulness is limited in a studio environment, namely when it comes to creating dynamic compositions, which in my opinion are a staple of portraiture. I understand that a tripods can be adjusted, but with one hand it simply wasn’t practical and I struggled to be happy with my compositions as a result.
Photos taken in coloured light using Galaxy S7 phone camera
The second suggestion was to participate as much as possible using the camera on my phone. This did assist me in ways the tripod couldn’t, but came with its own drawbacks as well. The main advantage was that I could handle my phone camera one-handed and therefore practice dynamic compositions as much as I wanted. This helped me create more interesting photos that I was happier with than the tripod ones. The downside of course was that the quality of the shots wasn’t as high as if I had used an SLR camera. The phone camera particularly struggled when it came to handling light; coloured lights were not as vivid and there was no flash to help light the scenes. This affected the results in a different way which I honestly didn’t mind, but I could tell they were not ideal conditions. However the phone was good because if nothing else it allowed me to experiment and record ideas for a later time when I would be able to retake the shots with an SLR.
All in all doing photography with a broken wrist has been a challenge for me but not impossible. It has given me time to research, experiment and conceptualise what I would like to accomplish with my shots when I do regain control of my wrist and I am excited by the possibilities.