Forums > Photography Talk > Photography from a wheelchair

Photographer

Biovenom Imagery

Posts: 17

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

I was wondering if any of the MM crowd are in a wheelchair or have worked with a photographer in a wheelchair?

I ask because I have a degenerative condition in both of my knees that will eventually leave me in a wheelchair (A great future to look forward to at 23) but I'm unsure if I'll be able to continue doing photography when I am wheelbound.

There are no fixes for my condition either. No surgery or exercises either.

Feb 19 13 04:32 am Link

Photographer

T-D-L

Posts: 10303

Los Angeles, California, US

Sorry to hear that.  There's a guy around here who is wheelchair bound, shows up at meet and greet events and rents the studio from time to time.  Not sure if he frequents the photography forum but if so maybe he'll chime in.  Met another guy a while back when I was part of a photography group on flickr that was in a wheelchair.  Both were able to continue photography, although I'm not in any position to say how being in a wheelchair affected the the way they worked.  Long story short though, it definitely seems possible to continue with photography though.  Good luck and hopefully you find the answers you're seeking.

Feb 19 13 04:37 am Link

Photographer

Gpro

Posts: 649

Salisbury, Maryland, US

This photographer does quite well.

http://www.modelmayhem.com/1119461

Feb 19 13 05:02 am Link

Photographer

Kent Art Photography

Posts: 2930

Ashford, England, United Kingdom

I have a problem with my spine, and I've given the wheelchair thing some thought.  My problem is made worse by moving about, which I tend to do while taking pics.

I found I could do quite well using a swivel chair with castors, although the little wheels kept getting stopped by trailing cables.  Presumably, the bigger wheels of a wheelchair would overcome that.  An electric wheelchair would probably be better than a hand operated one, because you could frame a shot with one hand while moving the wheelchair controls with the other.

My old Olympus had a swivelling screen, which was handy because I could frame shots at odd angles, and I miss it on the Canon I have at the moment, so that might be something to think about for the future.  Perhaps you could set up shots with the camera tethered to a monitor and use the remote to trigger it.

Feb 19 13 05:49 am Link

Photographer

SME

Posts: 21056

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

My good friend Jason Fassnacht built a platform for the llamas to be on, so that the perspective would be less restrictive from his chair.  It's a pretty genius solution.

Feb 19 13 05:55 am Link

Photographer

SME

Posts: 21056

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US

Kent Art Photography wrote:
I found I could do quite well using a swivel chair with castors, although the little wheels kept getting stopped by trailing cables.  Presumably, the bigger wheels of a wheelchair would overcome that.

Another cool Jason solution that covers that problem is that his lights are affixed to the ceiling, and they ratchet down and can swivel, so that the floor remains clear for him.  It's pretty awesome, and a whole lot less cluttered!  If I had studio space, I'd totally do it.

Feb 19 13 05:56 am Link

Photographer

afplcc

Posts: 6000

Fairfax, Virginia, US

Biovenom Imagery wrote:
I was wondering if any of the MM crowd are in a wheelchair or have worked with a photographer in a wheelchair?

I ask because I have a degenerative condition in both of my knees that will eventually leave me in a wheelchair (A great future to look forward to at 23) but I'm unsure if I'll be able to continue doing photography when I am wheelbound.

There are no fixes for my condition either. No surgery or exercises either.

Wish I could remember his name but there's at least one photographer here on MM located in the Houston area who's in a wheel chair.

Ed

Feb 19 13 06:13 am Link

Photographer

OwenImages

Posts: 3826

Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, US

There's a photographer in the Tampa Bay Area that is in a wheel chair.

Feb 19 13 06:22 am Link

Photographer

Schlake

Posts: 2624

Socorro, New Mexico, US

My friend Warren fell off a cliff.  He was into photography for quite a few years. after the event.  The two main things I remember are that he bought a tripod that had freedom of movement on the legs and he bought a light camera.  And I can't seem to find the tripod on the internet now; I think it was a Benco.  Basically each leg was on a mini ball head and could be adjusted to any angle allowing him to set the tripod up anywhere and have the camera be in the right spot for him.  As for the camera, he eventually opted for the Olympus DSLRs and high end Canon point and shoots because of the small size and good lenses available for the Olympus.

Feb 19 13 06:33 am Link

Photographer

NewBoldPhoto

Posts: 4897

PORT MURRAY, New Jersey, US

I shot from from a chair once when I was too broken to stand. Before long I slid to the floor because I didn't like the perspective from the chair then needed help to get back to the chair.
So it is certainly possible but you will likely need to make some adjustments and solve a few problems. Hmmmm.... you might do well to think of this as just another one of those challenges that we all have to deal with every time we shoot; low ceiling, too narrow room, too wide room, sun at the wrong angle, widow on the wrong wall, lights recycling too slow, bride drunk, groom hung-over, high winds, sudden torrential downpours, new assistant stopped for a liquid lunch, pulmonary embolism, heat stroke, hypothermia, gawkers, power needs, attitudes and short heavy models with a lazy eye that just happen to be the clients niece.

Feb 19 13 06:38 am Link

Photographer

GER Photography

Posts: 7963

Imperial, California, US

Just have someone make up a mount to the wheelchair frame with a ballhead on a boom arm and you'll have a very steady base for shooting!

Feb 19 13 06:45 am Link

Photographer

Zack Zoll

Posts: 2653

Glens Falls, New York, US

I too know a wheelchair-bound photographer.  She has some trouble doing event photography (as you can imagine), but her other photos are quite good.  I believe she uses a 5DmkII, and I know she has some long L glass, so weight may or may not be an issue.  Even aside from the wheelchair, she is not a large woman ... but depending on your height and the chair, you may be able to prop your elbows up, and that helps immensely.  Unfortunately using a view camera is probably right out, but otherwise you may or may not need to make any gear changes.

The only thing you'll need to do is use longer lenses than you might normally choose, in order to be further back and reduce the effect of shooting at a lower angle.  And again, depending on your height, you may not want to work with any six foot models in heels, until you get everything worked out.

And if it comes down to it, there's always mirrorless cameras with legacy lenses.  I picked up a couple Leicas and Schneiders for my NEX, and they absolutely blow away anything else I've ever seen from a DX camera, at about 1/3 the size and weight.  Focusing and composition will be slower, but you may find that to be the case anyway.

Feb 19 13 07:14 am Link

Photographer

Digiography

Posts: 3353

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

I'm wondering if having a camera on a movable boom with a remote preview screen and controls might be the answer.

Seems it might be easier to move a small camera than a large person, and if the rig is held from the ceiling you could get angles not even a "able bodied" person could get and with comfort.

Feb 19 13 07:20 am Link

Photographer

L A U B E N H E I M E R

Posts: 8799

Seattle, Washington, US

chuck.  close.

Feb 19 13 07:32 am Link

Photographer

RKD Photographic

Posts: 3265

Iserlohn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

I have a mate who's wheelchair-bound - a few of my friends and I organised a collection, bought him a camera and a custom mount for the chair.
He now shoots portraits and small groups in a home-studio as well as doing small jobs for the local papers...

Here's his FB profile - please PM him and let him know I sent you his details - he can better answer any questions you might have.

https://www.facebook.com/Wheels.Photography?fref=ts

Feb 19 13 11:02 am Link

Photographer

C s p i n e

Posts: 3948

Portland, Oregon, US

I'm quadriplegic. I use a power chair, have limited wrist function, and no functional hand movement. I do ok without adaptive equipment.

Feb 19 13 11:13 am Link

Photographer

Biovenom Imagery

Posts: 17

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Thanks for the replies and suggestions smile

I'm hoping I still have a few years before I have to worry about being in a chair fulltime (Only using one when my knees are really locked up currently) but I will start looking at gear.

I like the idea of using a boom though, that sounds interesting, especially because I'm pretty damned short smile

Feb 20 13 02:34 am Link

Photographer

Sentimental-SINtimental

Posts: 1314

Castle Rock, Washington, US

I would think that it would work for the most parts... but it would depend on the shoot and it's location. Beaches and forrest would defeat the wheelchair. In a studio a swivel chair and an automotive creeper can do wonders.

Feb 20 13 04:05 am Link

Photographer

Dragos Codita

Posts: 83

Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania

There are special tires for wheelchairs to go on sand, i was surprised to find out.

Anyway, not being able to walk is quite different than not being able to stand. You can lean against a wall or something similar, you can buy tall chairs with rollers, allmost anything if the model can compensate your lack of movement.

As for being short, that is not really a problem in a studio. Neither outside if you climb on something.
I am quite tall, but sometimes i need to be higher and must climb ladders, stones, stairs, everything, just be creative.

Feb 20 13 06:05 am Link

Photographer

John Horwitz

Posts: 2736

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

The paralympics have wonderful ideas and innovations for athletes. Holding a camera is far less  demanding than playing basketball -

Feb 20 13 06:26 am Link

Photographer

Sekkides

Posts: 70

London, England, United Kingdom

You're at the perfect height.. I do my knees in crouching to shoot from that angle.

Feb 20 13 06:30 am Link

Photographer

Photos by Lorrin

Posts: 6988

Eugene, Oregon, US

We built a mount for a fellow club member.

Bogan magic arm, super clamp and a ball head.

Feb 20 13 06:31 am Link

Photographer

John Horwitz

Posts: 2736

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

what condition - exactly?

Feb 20 13 06:42 am Link

Photographer

Marcio Faustino

Posts: 2060

Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Biovenom Imagery wrote:
I was wondering if any of the MM crowd are in a wheelchair or have worked with a photographer in a wheelchair?

I ask because I have a degenerative condition in both of my knees that will eventually leave me in a wheelchair (A great future to look forward to at 23) but I'm unsure if I'll be able to continue doing photography when I am wheelbound.

There are no fixes for my condition either. No surgery or exercises either.

If you are comited to photography, you will find a way. There are always people limited by the tools they have, by the time they have or by the space they have. But they find a way.

I know a guy who says he can't shoot models because he doesn't have a speedlight yet. I always aski him why to don't shoot with natural light. It is much better than give up.

To be honest, most of my studio shots I do on a chair.

I don't see any problem doing street photography too.

Sorry for your both nee but don't let it make you think it is going to make you stop with photography.

Feb 20 13 09:32 am Link

Photographer

C s p i n e

Posts: 3948

Portland, Oregon, US

Sentimental-SINtimental wrote:
Beaches and forrest would defeat the wheelchair.

Understandable assumption, but completely untrue. I have been on the beach and in the forest quite comfortably.

Feb 20 13 10:25 am Link

Photographer

John Horwitz

Posts: 2736

Raleigh, North Carolina, US

C s p i n e wrote:

Understandable assumption, but completely untrue. I have been on the beach and in the forest quite comfortably.

is the NSW version of ADA the same as it is in the US?

http://humanrights.gov.au/about/index.html

http://www.ada.gov/

Feb 20 13 02:42 pm Link

Photographer

Ally Moy

Posts: 405

New York, New York, US

I don't see why you can't still hand hold the camera or use a normal tripod. Your arms, hands, and core are all presumably fine for holding and slightly turning your body and adjusting the shot. I don't know why people are mentioning special mounts. I love low angles too.

Feb 20 13 04:37 pm Link

Photographer

Steven A Thompson

Posts: 549

Los Angeles, California, US

I'm a T9/10 para and have been my whole life. Everything in my portfolio is from a wheelchair.

I really don't use any adaptive equipment. I've built plenty of hare-brained gizmos but haven't really found long term benefit from much. I shoot in the studio most of the time - at least in terms of my llama portfolio, but spend weeks on the road solo shooting landscapes all over the country. It's frustrating, challenging and aggravating sometimes, but when I do get the click I think it is all the sweeter.

I generally like to shoot shorter llamas. Mostly because I have limited ceiling height in my home studio and from my lower perspective I run out of headroom otherwise. Perhaps the only specialized tool I sometimes use is  45mm PC-E (tilt shift) that gives me a taller perspective on the llama (just as it does in architecture) when used judiciously, but most of the time my kit is the standard fare (D800E, 24-70, 70-200, 85 prime, etc).

I have a buddy I shoot air shows with and that is the most challenging. It seems security rails like to be right at my eye height, interfering with proper sight line to the Tarmac and low flight path. We carry a foldable platform that is just high enough to raise me above the rail height to get a clear track on the action (generally 200-400 f/4 on a gimbal head).

Anyway, yes, it can be frustrating. I could never reach the level I woud like to in events or weddings as that environment is simply too varied for me to meet a clients needs. But there are lots of areas that it makes no difference or are easy to compensate for.

My new endeavor includes a 6-blade helicopter drone with a Micro Four Thirds camera and remote shutter and viewing system. Talk about liberating photography!

Good luck.

Steve

Feb 20 13 05:01 pm Link

Photographer

Mickle Design Werks

Posts: 5949

Washington, District of Columbia, US

I'm friends with this guy who is wheelchair bound:

http://www.modelmayhem.com/1225837

I think he does outstanding work!

Feb 20 13 05:24 pm Link

Photographer

C s p i n e

Posts: 3948

Portland, Oregon, US

John Horwitz wrote:

is the NSW version of ADA the same as it is in the US?

http://humanrights.gov.au/about/index.html

http://www.ada.gov/

I'm not talking about ADA trails. They rarely go anywhere worth shooting at.

Feb 21 13 12:12 pm Link

Photographer

Russell Tracy Photo

Posts: 1011

Norfolk, Virginia, US

Saw this on strobist when I was looking around on there the other day

http://strobist.blogspot.com/2012/12/ro … -king.html

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-xu6Oeb1oluI/ULWsRf6GNHI/AAAAAAAAFvQ/-v3a6j0qZ9o/s1600/Jaleel1.jpg

Feb 21 13 12:42 pm Link

Photographer

LAZPHOTO

Posts: 285

Temecula, California, US

I wanted to post this for you a while back but couldn't find it then.

Quadraplegic photographer John Geven doing quite well with some nudes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tar9DlrEBSo

May 20 13 03:50 am Link

Photographer

WR Photographics

Posts: 1398

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

This guy shoots either from a wheelchair or from a vehicle. Not a lot of model shots, but he has a really good body of work.

http://www.pbase.com/klatuu/root

May 20 13 05:47 am Link

Photographer

Digiography

Posts: 3353

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Slightly off topic, but if this guy can do this and be confined to a wheelchair, I would think photography would be a piece of cake:

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.ph … 0777678996

May 20 13 06:11 am Link

Model

Big A-Larger Than Life

Posts: 33417

The Woodlands, Texas, US

C s p i n e wrote:
I'm quadriplegic. I use a power chair, have limited wrist function, and no functional hand movement. I do ok without adaptive equipment.

Your name ... I totally get it now.  And you produce some awesome images btw.

May 20 13 06:30 am Link

Photographer

Lee Nutter

Posts: 160

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dude, Helmut Newton did several shoots in a wheelchair.

Gregory Crewdson doesn't even press the shutter.

Photography is about imagining possibilities and solving problems.

May 20 13 06:38 am Link

Photographer

David Birdsong

Posts: 1788

Pontiac, Michigan, US

Steve Gregory is amazing http://www.modelmayhem.com/608908

May 20 13 06:47 am Link

Photographer

Christopher Hartman

Posts: 54149

Buena Park, California, US

I don't want to out anyone, but there's a photographer here in Southern CA that works from a wheelchair.  Nice guy...though I have never met him.

May 20 13 07:37 am Link