hand through the strap

All right – this is the simplest, most important lesson.  I often call it rule number one, even if I don’t think there is an order or heirarchy.  Perhaps all the others teach what or how to do, pontification or perfection.  They set a path to mastery.  This is so much more obvious, basic – and critical.  You don’t do this. you don’t do much of anything.

You have a camera, you have a strap.  Something – barring tripod situations – is put through that strap.  The more – wrist, double looped around a wrist, a shoulder, slung across a torso – the better.

You may have the greatest set of skills known to man – debating EM with William Herschel, development with Zakia, information theory with Shannon,  chiaroscuro with Botticelli, war with Capa – but you are likely doing nothing without a functioning camera.  Impacts are just about the worst thing for cameras – elements are misaligned, accidental tilts are created, glass chips and shatters, light leaks are made, film backs pop, screws cam out – it’s just unequivocally bad.  So keep those cameras from hitting the ground.  You will avoid nearly all situations that will trash your camera by remembering, training yourself to cringe – to actually feel anxiety – when these things are not done-

  • The camera has a very strong strap that also has tensile strength : it can expand and pull itself (not bungee) back into shape when a weight – your falling camera – extends it.
  • A camera that is on the ground, cannot fall to the ground.  A maxim unto itself, but in the same vein – if you can put your equipment where it cannot fall further (and won’t be stepped on) it literally won’t fall.  Failing that, the lowest surface feasible is the safest.
  • The axis that best distributes weight – with short primes or normal zooms, this is often the back where your face goes – should be the axis in contact with the surface you’ve chosen.
  • Straps should NEVER hang off tables, ledges, whatever.  All it takes is for one cellphone pouch on a belt to catch in the strap and all your chances, often what you’ve done up to now, all of it – gone in a crash.

So, in the end its just this – cameras are meant to die in use – shutters die, sand kills them in Jerusalem, flooded in a hurricane – fine.  But make sure they earn a good one.  Doing shots and knocking it to the floor, while fun, isn’t a death worthy of any equipment worth prefering.

There are even more reasons  from a stability point of view – it’s not a strap, it’s a sling – but that’s for another aphorism.  For now, just keep it working because, vision aside, you aren’t a photographer without a camera.

Pretty obvious, right?

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