** ** I am not a health professional. I do not play one on TV and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express. Please consult your doctor or health professional before adding exercise routines to your lifestyle.


I have made this exclamation on more that one occasion (OK maybe there were a few choice words of the not so nice variety thrown in for good measure, but this is a relatively G rated blog) when I felt a disc slip or back go way out leading to excruciating and sometime debilitating pain.

This happens because of improper care and feeding (and use of) your body.

We as photographers tend to use and abuse ourselves without even realizing it. We carry heavy gear. We support weights in unusual positions. We hold uncomfortable positions for long periods of time waiting for ‘The Moment’.

back pain illustration

Back pain can strike at any time…. Less often if we prepare properly!

Some Back and Lifting Basics

OK let’s stop the wrong behavior and get things into prime working order. First let’s review how to lift and carry loads properly. Here’s a link to a slide show from the Mayo Clinic on proper lifting techniques. Essentially you want to plan your attack. Where are you going to put what you are picking up. Bend from one knee or squat using your legs to do the lifting, not bend from the waist. Engage your core. tighten those stomach and core muscles to steady your back. If an object is too heavy for you don’t ‘Superman’ it – find someone to help or lighten the load and make more trips. Trust me it’s worth making more trips that you think will take you too much time now than to tweak your back and end up in pain for days or weeks and possibly loosing lots of work time!

Here’s a PDF WA-Handout-Proper-Lifting-Techniques from Ergonomics Plus

How Do You Hold Your Body?

After a long day shooting how do you feel? Would it surprise you to know that you should feel fine? If you are using proper photography techniques you should not feel back pain even after a long day at a wedding or chasing toddlers around your studio. When I was having consistent visits with my Chiropractor he suggested I might be hurting myself while photographing and I poo-pooed the idea until he suggested I have someone video me while I worked. Upon review of the video I was shocked! I found myself in unneeded bent up and twisted positions. Instead of moving my feet to keep my body aligned and supported properly I was consistently leaning and twisting to get the camera into position putting unneeded stress on the back and spine.

Tip – Have someone video you while you work. Review then build new habits for proper body positioning for less hassle with your back health.


A great way to avoid severe pain is to prevent it in the first place. The tips above can help with that but to really protect yourself getting in shape and building stronger body muscles is key. Please work with a professional especially when you first start out in any exercise program. Doing exercises improperly can cause damage or create pain that will keep you from coming back to the exercise floor.

Here’s a solid, simple (with video instructions) exercise program with which to start. It’s the Johnson & Johnson Seven Minute Workout. Based on HIT – High Intensity Training techniques. Don’t let those words scare you! Basically it means you perform an exercise for 30 seconds followed by 10 seconds of recovery followed by the next exercise. The J&J team do a great job of instruction and keeping the workouts fresh. The nice part is it’s a free APP to download to your Smart devices like phone or tablet. In spite of the solid instruction in the videos I still recommend you get a trainer to coach you through the exercises the first time around to be sure your have good form.

johnson & johnson 7 minute workout

There’s more but, this is a good start in protecting your back. Stay tuned for Parts two & three of ‘photographers health – back’ in future posts on Successful-Photographer.

Yours in Creative photography,     Bob

** I am not a health professional. I do not play one on TV and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express. Please consult your doctor or health professional before adding exercise routines.