Photography is not known as a hard job on your body to most people, but as anyone who has had to carry around gear for a day can attest – it wears on your body. It can creep up on you, things are going well and then you start to get small aches here and there. Next thing you know you have chronic back problems.

Staying healthy as a photographer is important so that you can continue to perform your duties to the best of your ability. Specifically relating to back health, if you are in pain from a bad back your are not going to be giving your clients the best experience they can get because you are going to be trying to push through the pain. So what can you do to help “save your back” and insure that your body does not get in the way of your passion for photography? Here are 5 tips for staying healthy and reducing your shoot pains.

Ditch Your DSLR

A7R SEL2470ZOk, this one may sound a bit extreme but it is still valid. In the past if you wanted the best pro setup you could get that meant a big and heavy DSLR to lug around. Now with the release of quality full frame mirrorless systems like the new Sony A7 and A7R you can get full frame results at a fraction of the weight.

Carry Only What You Need

Completely changing you camera system may not be an option for you, but at the very least you should carry around less gear. Ideally during a shoot you should only have your camera/lens combo that you are using at that time on your shoulders, maybe a small bag with an extra lens at the most. I recommend the any of the BlackRapid Camera Straps for keeping the load on your shoulders down.

If You Must Carry, Use Your Waist

Get the weight of your gear off of your back and onto your waist. It has been proven that the waist is the best place for the body to support extra weight, so make use of that rather than hurting your back with extra weight. There are many great bag systems like the UNDFIND Waist Shooter or the Think Tank Modular Component System which put the weight of your gear on your waist rather than your back.

Practice Your Posture

Having good posture will go a long way towards keeping your back as healthy as it needs to be. As photographers we spend a lot of time crouched in front of a computer doing post-production which can be just as bad for your back as carrying too much weight. Make an effort to sit up straight, your back will thank you in the long run.

Stretch before and after your shoots

Before becoming a photographer, I nearly got carpal tunnel from my desk job of 4 years. Repetitive stress of any kind hurts your body. Thankfully, the company gave me all the ergonomic tools and even software that popped up with reminders from the beginning to the end of the day to pause and stretch. Once I learned those habits, I stopped getting those pains. Then, I became a photographer and learned about new pains. I was surprised to not see an emphasis on how to get rid of these repetitive stress pains after every shoot. So I learned methods to deal with them myself. Here’s what I’ve learned.

The following article is a guest post by Drexelle Park, a photographer from Orange County, CA. More of her and her husband’s work can be found at; and as always, we welcome your comments below.

1 | Warm it up Before the Shoot

Do light cardio (walk, jog, bike) for just 10 minutes! Especially if the weather’s extra cold, this is key to warming your muscles and getting it ready to be stretched and worked.

2 | Stretches that Your Body Will Love

There are tons of stretches for the specific aches and pains you get regularly. But these are my personal favorites.

Upper Back
– Place your right arm over your left arm and, with palms inverted, place them together.
– Press your shoulders together to increase the stretch.
– Place your arms behind your back.
– Grab your palms together high up on your back.
– Then, with your hands clasped together, reach low.
– Switch and repeat.
photography- stretches

– Widen your feet.
– Exhale as you roll your head to your right shoulder.
– Inhale and then roll to the left shoulder.
– Repeat.
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– Lie on your back.
– Extend both legs.
– Place your right ankle over your left thigh.
– Reach your hand through the hole to hold the shin of your left leg.
– Clasp your left leg, lie back and pull.
– Switch legs and repeat.
DParkPhotography Stretches 003

– Widen your feet.
– Reach forward Ëœtil you reach the floor.
– Fold your arms and rock side to side.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

– Rest your knees on the floor.
– Pull your right knee forward and sit on your right ankle. Keep that right foot flat.
– Extend your left knee to the back.
– Place your right hand on the floor.
– Grab your left ankle with your left hand and pull.
– The further down you lie on your right side, the more you’ll feel it.
– Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

– Get into the yoga move – downward- facing dog
– Straighten the left leg and bend the right to stretch the left calf.
– Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

– Stand near a wall for support.
– Grab your right ankle and pull your heel up until you feel your thigh stretch.
– Tighten your stomach muscles.
– Keep your knees together.
– Hold for 30 seconds.
– Switch and repeat.

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– Widen your feet.
– Rest your right elbow over your right knee.
– With your left arm, rotate widely 10x like you’re stirring a large pot.
– Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

– Widen your feet.
– Place your right arm across your body and keep it straight.
– Pull it back with the left arm to pull your bicep towards your neck.
– Then, reach your right arm up and grab the right elbow with the left hand.
– Gently pull the tricep behind the shoulder.
– Switch and repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

DParkPhotography Stretches 003


– Place both hands parallel in front of you.
– Close your hands to create a fist.
– Lower both fists downward. Hold.
– Raise both fists upward and open your hand to stretch all fingers outwards.
– Repeat.

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

DParkPhotography Stretches 003

Why Stretch?
You can do this for just 10 minutes! This will help you:
– Increase flexibility
– Improve joint motion
– Improves circulation to speed recovery after muscle injuries
– Reduce tension and soreness

Important Tips

– Breathe regularly.
– Go slow!
– Don’t bounce.
– Start with tight muscles first.
– Stretch both sides evenly.
– Don’t overstretch – If it just hurts, stop.

3 | Stretch During the Shoot and Cool Down After

Repeat a stretch for any muscle that starts to get too tense during the shoot.

Ugh, I know you think you’re done but this will seriously help. Spend 5- 10 minutes to warm down your body to reduce the production of lactic acid.

We know you’re beat from your long shoot, but it’s important to stretch one more time to reduce soreness and recovery time.

4 | Massage it

A gentle massage at any place that’s extra tender afterwards is a nice way to tell your body, “Don’t worry. I still love you. 

5 | Still Hurts Badly? RICE it

If you’re still in pain and it’s swelling, use RICE. Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate.


These are just simple tips that you can try to help keep your back in good working order so that you can continue to shoot and practice the profession/hobby that you love. Stay tuned for future Healthy Photography posts for more great tips on being a healthy photographer.

What are your thoughts on today’s tips? Do you have any to add? Share your thoughts or tips in a comment below.