Monopods are awesome. It’s 1/3 of a tripod but 10x as useful. They are versatile, light and compact. Simply put- They are awesome and I always travel with one. To me they are worlds away from a tripod- similar but incredibly different tools. I never travel with a tripod. Its heavy, bulky, and not nearly as useful in my line of work. Sure if you are a landscape photographer this would probably not apply to you. But music photography is a beast of its own.
Like always I can only share with the information I know. So it’ll be all concert related. However if you have valuable information on how you use monopods in your photography career, please share!
My most favorite but also the most errrr.. dangerous. Photographing above my head with a trigger. It has taken me awhile to figure out. But this is the result.
When I first started I used a light stand, then a boom arm, then for awhile I used a whole C stand with a boom arm set up. It was heavy, metal, and probably not the safest thing. My camera went up like 14 feet in the air it was so funny. Anyway… monopod works best. I don’t really need to go 14 feet in the air very often, so that was just a bit of overkill.
I used it for mostly crowd shots from the audience back then.
It takes a little bit of practice to get this right. You can’t afford to drop your camera because its we’ll…. expensive and your camera. You also don’t want to injure your boss or client in the process, this would be counter productive. So figure out a secure setup, figure out a trigger system (some cameras have them built in) and you are good to go. I use Pocket Wizards for triggers.
The most common use for a monopod is to support a heavy telephoto lens – and it is one of the best uses. Its really easy to break down, and relocate yourself should you spot a better vantage point. Great for me as I have to move quite frequently at concerts. For almost every job I set up at front of house way out in the middle of the crowd right in front of stage. The place where I shoot these kinds of images from.
I like set up my monopod and put the bottom of it on the front part of my foot, this way I can bounce the camera up and down a few inches at a time with my foot. Its great for when you are zooming in as you can’t really adjust height that quick manually. It is kind of pointless if you are shooting wide as moving an inch or two is negligible unless you are shooting with a telephoto.
If the lens is heavy and you aren’t able to put your camera on the ground – another option is to fully collapse it and push it against you belt on your waist. As weird as it looks… something like this.
I did this for a full concert back in December. It works very well, people will look at you funny, but if you are like me – people look at me funny anyway so nothing new.
I walk home late from concerts alone sometimes, or to my car – or even just around festivals with incredibly drunk excited people in big groups- and the monopod has always been a self defense kind of tool. Just holding a stick with a metal end is effective enough. I haven’t ever actually had to use it but I can’t see why it wouldn’t be effective. What a concept to even have to think about…. Lets leave this dark place.
The worst part about having gear on you is where the heck do I put this thing while shooting? I think I have found a good solution for the monopod. I attach it to my backpack, or to my waist with Spider Monkey Clips and zip ties.
If you have to fly with your monopod and only have carry on – make sure you break it down as much as possible and maybe don’t purchase the kind with a metal spike in the bottom…. You want it to as far away from a weapon as possible.
Thats all I got. I hope you can tell I absolutely love monopods. Oh, the monopod I use. I use a 3 Legged Thing BOB Evo 2 5 Section Carbon Fiber Travel Monopod. It’s chill, I’ve had it for a long while and its very light. Thats all I need. Chill, durable and light.
Hope this all helps you!