Get Stable Without a Tripod

I recently bought my first tripod. More than a year after I first started making money with my photography, and two years after I got my first decent camera. I finally got one because I’ve been asked to do photography at several night time events over the coming months but I had resisted buying one for so long because I find them (the affordable ones anyway) too heavy and bulky to be practical. For those of you who may also be making do without a tripod here are a few other options for getting stable:

Monopods. These are little poles that you mount your camera on top of. They are lightweight and easy to move and some of them come with velcro straps so you can attach them to fence posts and the like. However they’re not great for long exposure and some monopods may not be strong enough to hold a larger SLR camera.

Beanbags. Very cheap, light weight, and easy to squash into an overstuffed camera bag. Beanbags make excellent camera supports and almost never break! Simply put a beanbag between your camera and a rock/bench/tree/car roof and it’ll support your camera perfectly.

Remote release/self timers. Even if you have your camera precariously balanced on a rock you can still avoid camera shake on long exposure shots by not touching the camera. Nearly all modern cameras have a self timer you can use or you could buy a remote release (small and fairly cheap piece of equipment) that allows you to activate the camera from a distance.

If all else fails. If you find yourself in a position with no way to stabilise your camera but you need to avoid camera shake try setting the shutter speed between 1/60th and 1/125th, holding your arms close to your body to support the camera, and shooting off 4 or 5 shots in quick succession. Hopefully one of them will come out well and you can simply delete the rest.

And if you have your own suggestions for avoiding camera shake without using a tripod please leave them in the comments section.


  1. If all else fails … take a piece of string or rope (take two or three shoe laces from walking boots!) and fix one end to your camera and a loop on the other in which you put your foot. The length should be so, that the string is tight when you hold your camera to your eye for focussing. It’s really a very old trick!



  2. I’m very fond of my gorillapod – It’s a lightweight mini-tripod that has flexible legs which articulate in multiple directions. You can wrap it around trees, chairs, prop it up on things…

    There are three sizes and I just passed mine (the middle sized one) onto my son to use with his new digi camcorder, and I plan to order the biggest sized one for me to replace it.

  3. Does a monopod count? If so, then this tip’s for you. I always carry a brace of cyclists’ quick-release toe straps with me when I take the monopod out and about. They’re very strong and make it easy to attach the monopod securely to lampposts, railings etc. They’re also very quick to unhook when security spots you and you need to leave the scene in a hurry..

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