How to take photographs from a kayak: Six quick tips on holding yourself and your camera

Perhaps one of the most important things for being a successful kayak photographer is learning how to hold your camera and your body. Since a tripod is impractical do to the amplified movement at its head, you and your body must take its place. In some ways it is similar to land based photography, but there are some important adaptations.

1. Use two hands. Secure your paddle so that you can use two hands to hold your camera. For more on what to do with your paddle while kayaking, try this article- What to do with your paddle when taking a picture. Your camera will have less shake if you use both hands. Also, make sure to use that strap so that you can’t drop your camera in the water.

2. Keep your elbows in tight to your body. Your torso is the only thing that you can easily brace against to steady your arms, so do so by holding your elbows tight. Mine almost sit on top of my belly.

3. Keep your camera in close to your face. If you are using sn SLR and its view finder, this happens automatically. If you are using the viewing screen of your camera however, it may be something you have to consciously decide. Holding the camera close in will give it more stability and make it less prone to shake.

4. Lean back a little. Leaning back gives a little more of a base to rest your camera and elbows. I especially do this if I am shooting video and not just stills. It allows more stability, while letting me view the action. In a kayak it is usually possible to lean back just enough to give your arms just a little more stability.

5. Don’t rotate too far to one side or the other. If you are looking straight ahead, don’t rotate your body much more than 45 degrees to either side. If you rotate farther it becomes more difficult to keep your camera steady. If you want to shoot more to one side or the other, steer your kayak so that it is pointing in the proper direction.

6. This is perhaps one of the most important things. Keep your hips loose. It is your hips that will absorb rocking motions that waves might cause. They are sort of the shock absorber between your kayak and you. If you minimize any motions coming from the kayak by using your hips, it makes it that much easier to keep the rest of you (and thereby your camera) still.

For more tips on kayak photography, try reading Simple tips on taking photographs from your kayak

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in How To, kayak photography, nature photography, photography, safety, SLR, wildlife photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How to take photographs from a kayak: Six quick tips on holding yourself and your camera

  1. Jim says:

    Great tips, thank you! We just moved to Petaluma from the East Coast and I can’t wait to get out on the river here early in the morning and see what I can capture!!! Take it easy.

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