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Setting Up the Shot with a Tripod

Mar 15, 2011

by daniellexo

There are a lot of little elements that go into setting up the perfect product photo. If you want a crisp, focused photo, a tripod can make that much easier! I asked photographer Spencer Gordon to help us understand the basics and why and how to use a tripod to create sharper, better lit, more consistent imagery. Spencer has been taking pictures since he was a kid. He’s been working as a professional photographer based in NYC since 1992, with clients such as InStyle, Razorfish and Victoria Secret.  

What exactly is a tripod and why would you want to use it? 

How much should you spend on a tripod?

A tripod can cost anywhere from $25.00 on up. So pick a tripod that is suitable for your budget, level of photography experience and use ability.

A good starter tripod: Slik F740 4-Section Tripod with 3-Way Panhead.
A more intermediate tripod: Bushnell Advanced Tripod with 3-Way Head.
An advanced tripod: Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT 26mm 3-Section Aluminum Alloy Tripod Legs or Vanguard PH-22 3 Way Fluid Pan Head.

Can you show us how to properly work this thing? 

Ultimately a tripod is going to allow you to take better quality pictures. We all know there’s a lot more involved, so follow Spencer’s blog for more photography how-to videos.  

 


Crochet Pattern - CAMERA- Toys - PDF  (00387)
Crochet Pattern - CAMERA- Toys - PDF (00387)
$5.99 USD
Large Format Camera on Tripod with Red Bird - Victorian Framed Object - Wall Art Decor 7x10in
Large Format Camera on Tripod with Red Bird - Victorian Framed Object - Wall Art Decor 7x10in
Sold
Vintage Camera or Movie Tripod (Steel and Black), Hollywood Brand, Made in Glendale, CA
Vintage Camera or Movie Tripod (Steel and Black), Hollywood Brand, Made in Glendale, CA
Sold
Industrial Graphic Pan-Tilt TRIPOD Head
Industrial Graphic Pan-Tilt TRIPOD Head
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139 comments

  • GLAMSHINEACCESORIES

    GLAMSHINEACCESORIES said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the Info:)

  • AZCreativeStudio

    AZCreativeStudio said 6 years ago

    Great info!!!!!!!

  • PolClary

    PolClary said 6 years ago

    Very helpful. I've been spending ages trying to set up my tripod, and it still always ends up slightly crooked. ;)

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 6 years ago

    gotta get me one..thanks

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    I tried using a tripod for a while as I got one with my camera but I'm not overly keen on it. I prefer the looser shooting manner!

  • collectiblesatoz

    collectiblesatoz said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the information. I always need help with my pictures.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage said 6 years ago

    Thanks for your help! This info is good to know!

  • OsoVictoria

    OsoVictoria said 6 years ago

    Thanks, a tripod does help steady those pictures.

  • iroirocrafts

    iroirocrafts said 6 years ago

    Thank you! I always use a tripod for product photos, especially helps if there is lower lighting.

  • WhisperingOak

    WhisperingOak said 6 years ago

    Great info. I have been trying to get better quality pictures but have not tried the tripod. Will do next time.

  • JudiPaintedit

    JudiPaintedit said 6 years ago

    Awesome..... Thank you. Esp for the video!!

  • oldworldprimitives

    oldworldprimitives said 6 years ago

    One of my 2011 New Years Resolutions was to finally start using my tripod for my product photography (after my hubby showed me how to work it, AGAIN..) and I have to agree that it's essential for getting crisp, focused photos every time,

  • PlumeandPetals

    PlumeandPetals said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the great info!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 6 years ago

    great article. for some table top shots (small items), i use homemade beanie bags as "tripods" to shoot. thanks for including the vintage hollywood brand tripod from my store. :)

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom said 6 years ago

    Great interesting article! Thanks for the tips :)

  • SacredSymbolStudios

    SacredSymbolStudios said 6 years ago

    Thank you Spencer. Appreciated and enjoyed your videos.

  • AvianInspirations

    AvianInspirations said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tips!

  • 4softpawz

    4softpawz said 6 years ago

    Great tips!

  • daweigreat

    daweigreat said 6 years ago

    Yes,tripod is important in picture making.

  • bedouin

    bedouin said 6 years ago

    A str8 shooter from my Canon I love taking pictures. This easy to follow tutorial may inspire me to push on to a new form

  • DecoFamara

    DecoFamara said 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for all this information. Very useful.

  • HoneysuckleLane

    HoneysuckleLane said 6 years ago

    Thanks so much for the tripod tips! I have one but usually forget to get it out and put it to use.

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 6 years ago

    Need to begin using the tripod that is collecting dust at the moment, appreciate your tips, as our photos in our shop need to improve. :)

  • BlueEyedShell

    BlueEyedShell said 6 years ago

    Awesome! I was just thinking about buying a tripod and this helpful blog came out and convinced me :) Thanks Spencer!

  • birdzonawire

    birdzonawire said 6 years ago

    love this! I've been wanting to get one and didn't know where to start:) Thanks

  • TheChocolateCafe

    TheChocolateCafe said 6 years ago

    I wish I had my old equipment to take better photos, all I can afford now is my phone to take pictures and a very steady hand and patience. Thank you for the tips.

  • WendyElf

    WendyElf said 6 years ago

    I can see my tripod jumping up and down in the corner with great excitement - realising its going to be used at last! Hurrah (says both me and the tripod... ) ta for the info!

  • HeartOfGlassDesigns

    HeartOfGlassDesigns said 6 years ago

    Have been using a tripod since my real estate photog days. It is indispensable when wanting to capture not only good but great pics. EVERYTHING Spencer said is what I do everytime. I am so glad the ETSY folks put this together. Thanks!

  • MilaKeln

    MilaKeln said 6 years ago

    Very useful. Thanks for this article.

  • denises72

    denises72 said 6 years ago

    Outstanding! On my way to buy an tripod!

  • TaylorArts

    TaylorArts said 6 years ago

    Thanks for taking the time to make this so clear. Looks like I'll need to make another investment.

  • Saxiib

    Saxiib said 6 years ago

    I definitely need to use an tripod. These videos are great!

  • rebourne

    rebourne said 6 years ago

    thanks for taking the time to make the videos. i have a tripod and i need to use it more.

  • FrivolousNecessity

    FrivolousNecessity said 6 years ago

    awesome - i'm a total shaker - i'll definitely be using a tripod more!

  • ChrissiesRibbons

    ChrissiesRibbons said 6 years ago

    Thank you!!

  • vKnit

    vKnit said 6 years ago

    fab tips! thank you very much!

  • PixesBeads

    PixesBeads said 6 years ago

    I would be lost without my tripod! It allows me to get up close and personal!

  • Strauski

    Strauski said 6 years ago

    When you're travelling, a bean bag--literally a bag of beans or lentils from the grocery store--is a good base for your camera instead of a tripod. Use the self timer as Spencer suggests. Thanks for the good info, Spencer.

  • ddfoto

    ddfoto said 6 years ago

    Love shooting with a tripod especially on using a slow shutter speed. Great info!

  • rarebeasts

    rarebeasts said 6 years ago

    A tripod is the best accessory investment you can make when taking photos.

  • RisenPhoenixDesigns

    RisenPhoenixDesigns said 6 years ago

    Thank you for the info :)

  • RisenPhoenixDesigns

    RisenPhoenixDesigns said 6 years ago

    Thank you for the info :)

  • WoodlandCottage

    WoodlandCottage said 6 years ago

    Excellent, excellent, excellent. This is really useful--thanks a ton for sharing!

  • FamilyArtistry

    FamilyArtistry said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tip Spencer. Duh use the self timer to avoid camara shake. Why didn't I think of that.

  • frommylifetoyours

    frommylifetoyours said 6 years ago

    Very helpful . thank you

  • rockriverstitches

    rockriverstitches said 6 years ago

    Great article! I wouldn't know what to do without my tripod!

  • imakecutestuff

    imakecutestuff said 6 years ago

    Yay for tripods! Thanks for the great video posts (and for the link to my smallobjectphotography.com blog ;) Better photos FTW!

  • misscoconut

    misscoconut said 6 years ago

    I want to point out that more expensive tripods last a whole lot longer. If you're planning to use it a lot, invest in a decent metal one, not a cheap plastic one.

  • ButlerPottery

    ButlerPottery said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the advice on tripods. I never thought of the time exposed to avoid camera shake.

  • BUTTERFLYBAZAAR

    BUTTERFLYBAZAAR said 6 years ago

    Thanks a bunch! I'll have to remember to do this.

  • natalya1905

    natalya1905 said 6 years ago

    Great info, thank you very much for sharing! It's amazing to see how easily professional photographers play with all their equipment. Cameras, tripods, lights, umbrellas - it's kind of a show itself! I'm going to follow Gordon on Twitter and can't wait for his next lessons.

  • samdesigns2009

    samdesigns2009 said 6 years ago

    Great lesson on tripods! Need get one!

  • GemdropsoftheFalls

    GemdropsoftheFalls said 6 years ago

    Great stuff. Thanks Spencer!

  • BotanicalBead

    BotanicalBead said 6 years ago

    Very good information, I'd be lost w/o my table top tripod!

  • TheJulReeBox

    TheJulReeBox said 6 years ago

    Awesome and TIMELY information! Thank you!

  • joebanker24

    joebanker24 said 6 years ago

    Thank you for the info. I have used a tripod before and have gotten a way from it. I also want to try playing with the white balance on my SLR.

  • Arctida

    Arctida said 6 years ago

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • vintagerulz

    vintagerulz said 6 years ago

    Very helpful

  • artofisaac

    artofisaac said 6 years ago

    Good tips. The tripod used for taking pictures from overhead is interesting.

  • Hapagirls

    Hapagirls said 6 years ago

    Always need tips to improve my photos! Thanks!

  • littlebirdcreative

    littlebirdcreative said 6 years ago

    thanks for these helpful tips!

  • lynntodddesigns

    lynntodddesigns said 6 years ago

    this came at the perfect time... thanks!

  • fashionL

    fashionL said 6 years ago

    Thanks for your help!

  • ruddlecottage

    ruddlecottage said 6 years ago

    Extremely good advice and tips...many thanks for taking the time to share your expertise

  • Ginaitalianfashion

    Ginaitalianfashion said 6 years ago

    Great tips, thanks !!!!!

  • TrendyWendyHandbags

    TrendyWendyHandbags said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the helpful hints. I can always use help with my pictures.

  • 2ones

    2ones said 6 years ago

    Thanks.... Especially like the self-timer tip!

  • NeoArtifax

    NeoArtifax said 6 years ago

    Much needed advice as I take most of my pictures when there is no one else around! (embarrassed...(*^o^*))

  • NeoArtifax

    NeoArtifax said 6 years ago

    Much needed advice as I take most of my pictures when there is no one else around! (embarrassed...(*^o^*))

  • MAUpromos

    MAUpromos said 6 years ago

    Nice tips!

  • smallfryINK

    smallfryINK said 6 years ago

    Wonderful tips, thanks!

  • leavesley

    leavesley said 6 years ago

    great tips - hope there will be more :-) THX

  • RevolvingStore

    RevolvingStore said 6 years ago

    I will dust off my tripod, set it up, and use your helpful tips.....Thanks for the reminders!!!

  • thepapermoonstudio

    thepapermoonstudio said 6 years ago

    Good advice!

  • DoodlebugAccessories

    DoodlebugAccessories said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the info! Cleaning up tripod now and getting something else for a door stop. :)

  • beadelight

    beadelight said 6 years ago

    Thanks, Spencer! I've been using a tabletop tripod, but now I want one with the removable rod thingy so I can shoot jewelry straight down.

  • beadelight

    beadelight said 6 years ago

    Thanks, Spencer! I've been using a tabletop tripod, but now I want one with the removable rod thingy so I can shoot jewelry straight down.

  • LARRY52344

    LARRY52344 said 6 years ago

    thanks for the reminder getting the tri pod out now

  • ApplewoodHandwovens

    ApplewoodHandwovens said 6 years ago

    Great info!! Thanks

  • ColoradoPenCrafter

    ColoradoPenCrafter said 6 years ago

    Great tips Spencer! I'm a first time photographer as of this week. I bought and use a tripod and i also bought a small photo tent for soft lighting. I also use the self timer on a 2 second delay and my pictures have improved immensely. Thanks again!

  • QuiltSewCover

    QuiltSewCover said 6 years ago

    Great info! Thanks so much!

  • HillCountrySilver

    HillCountrySilver said 6 years ago

    Great advice! I find that my large tripod sits in a closet because it is si cumbersome. I often shoot with a small one that has bendable legs about three inches long, perfect for rocks, the beach, and uneven surfaces. It even has a pocket clip and my shots are so much clearer when I use it! Inexpensive and Very portable for clear close-ups of my jewelry.

  • eggmost

    eggmost said 6 years ago

    Wow thats great info!! good one!!

  • siamcollection

    siamcollection said 6 years ago

    i love it

  • IsabelleKnits

    IsabelleKnits said 6 years ago

    Very helpul! Thanks for the info.

  • SigalFJewelry

    SigalFJewelry said 6 years ago

    I just started to photo with a tripod lately and I see the big difference. I have a very old tripod but it still does the work. Thanks for the tips and the info.

  • VintageNook

    VintageNook said 6 years ago

    Thank you very much for the most informative video. I will try to purchase tri-pod to improve the pictures of my products.

  • MakeMeSparkly

    MakeMeSparkly said 6 years ago

    we really need this :)

  • bibsnbobs

    bibsnbobs said 6 years ago

    Great info, think I'll be heading to the camera shop in the morning. :)

  • poorjimsvintage

    poorjimsvintage said 6 years ago

    If only I owned a nice camera.

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 6 years ago

    This is great!! Now I'm lusting after a tripod :) Thank you so much.

  • ButtermilkCottage

    ButtermilkCottage said 6 years ago

    Got one for Christmas! Now I'm a bit more motivated to use it! Thanks!

  • PetuniaRoseDesigns

    PetuniaRoseDesigns said 6 years ago

    Just in time. I needed this info. Thanks

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 6 years ago

    I once had a turtle named Tripod.

  • MaryLittfin

    MaryLittfin said 6 years ago

    Time to dust off my tripod and put it to use again :) Thank you for the great info.

  • photostudio311

    photostudio311 said 6 years ago

    For those of you in Los Angeles who don't find this fun let us help photograph your items. We have a photography studio...

  • lmayjewelry

    lmayjewelry said 6 years ago

    Love using a tripod! Thanks for the info, very informative.

  • meringuedesigns

    meringuedesigns said 6 years ago

    spencer you are awesome. thanks for great advice. i've been wanting a tripod forever for my dslr but just didn't know what to do. :)

  • AKingsThings

    AKingsThings said 6 years ago

    Oh...how I needed this lesson!

  • CorreylDesigns

    CorreylDesigns said 6 years ago

    Always continuing to improve photos! Thanks!

  • Lalalinens

    Lalalinens said 6 years ago

    great information, thanks.

  • CoastalArts

    CoastalArts said 6 years ago

    thanks Spencer, great advice

  • thisOtherthing

    thisOtherthing said 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tips.

  • CitySistersShop

    CitySistersShop said 6 years ago

    Thank you Spencer. Good advice and helpful to those who are seeking to be better photographers.

  • joevleather

    joevleather said 6 years ago

    Great tutorial and we are big advocates for Tripod .. aside from our camera they produce great still shots of our products .. and being very honest .. it's all about the images on the web. Great post

  • nightowlcraftworks

    nightowlcraftworks said 6 years ago

    he needs a better mug ;) lol

  • TangledMetal

    TangledMetal said 6 years ago

    Great information. It will definitely help me out.

  • FiresideFeline

    FiresideFeline said 6 years ago

    Tripods are life savers for indoor photos with bad lighting!! I'm not in a position where I can take all of my pictures outdoors with natural lighting so I rely on tripods and white balance to help me out. The only problem is that my tripod is only set up to hold a camera horizontally. I'm looking for a good tripod that can hold a digital camera vertically. Does anyone know where to get a good one?

  • girliepains

    girliepains said 6 years ago

    Love tripods

  • jessicaoart

    jessicaoart said 6 years ago

    very cool, thanks!

  • StrangePuppy

    StrangePuppy said 6 years ago

    I kind of knew that but It's still helps to hear it, Now all I need is a tripod with proper legs...I only have a cheap plastic tabletop tripod. Working on it!

  • magdasenso

    magdasenso said 6 years ago

    Now that was helpful :) Thanks!

  • lkdKids

    lkdKids said 6 years ago

    love the videos! Thanks so much for the tips. Videos always make things much more clear.

  • lepetitruban

    lepetitruban said 6 years ago

    Great tips, thank you!

  • polkadotsandblooms

    polkadotsandblooms said 6 years ago

    Fab feature, thanks so much Gordon. I've started using my stepladder for my photoshoots, but I think it is time to go a little more professional - so this great!

  • cowriegirl

    cowriegirl said 6 years ago

    Really helpful!

  • SirCedricsGoodHeads

    SirCedricsGoodHeads said 6 years ago

    Thanks for your tips. I would not think about taking an image of my detailed work with out using a tripod. I usually use ambient light but I am would love to know more about how to use different lighting systems. Lynda

  • thequilthaus

    thequilthaus said 6 years ago

    We often use our tripot - got some good hints from you - thanks.

  • natalyboutique

    natalyboutique said 6 years ago

    thanks ,great info. http://natalyboutique.blogspot.com

  • lindab142

    lindab142 said 6 years ago

    My cousin, a fine art photographer, sent me a tripod from NJ. I use it all the time. Lovin' it. Thanks for the info. http://linorstorecom.blogspot.com

  • DarlingCherie

    DarlingCherie said 6 years ago

    Interesting. I have a tripod, but I don't know why I never used it for my products, thanks!

  • rockofkristia

    rockofkristia said 6 years ago

    I'm also into photography. Thanks for the tips!

  • EmilyEckel

    EmilyEckel said 6 years ago

    You inspired me to get a tripod. Found the high end one for $120 on the Internet. Just spent two hours reshooting most of the items in my shop. The difference in the photos is remarlable. Thanks for the " tripod episodes." I'm using an old point and shoot camera and in a year or two I'd like to up grade. Sure would appreciate some advice on that.

  • NoorJewels

    NoorJewels said 6 years ago

    Great tips! Thanks!

  • LisbonStory

    LisbonStory said 6 years ago

    thanks!

  • thelogchateau

    thelogchateau said 6 years ago

    Thanks for your great tips and tricks . . . you make it sound so easy!

  • CashmereJewels

    CashmereJewels said 6 years ago

    Tripod really helps, i also think sometimes you just have to be creative to be able to take clear and beautiful picture :)

  • ElegantlyHandmade

    ElegantlyHandmade said 6 years ago

    Great info, I see a tripod in my near future, also need to learn Photoshop.

  • lifesimplepleasures

    lifesimplepleasures said 6 years ago

    Great info! Thanks.

  • ForsythiaHill

    ForsythiaHill said 6 years ago

    Nice hat Spencer (couldn't resist). Loved the presentations!

  • ElkeHutchens

    ElkeHutchens said 6 years ago

    Thanks Spencer, I'll look you up on FB

  • DeirdreLeePortraits

    DeirdreLeePortraits said 6 years ago

    Great info...thanks for sharing :-)

  • carabijoux

    carabijoux said 6 years ago

    Great post! After 3 years of many, many attempts at photographing my jewellery, I've just finally got it right! The tripod, white balance and great backgrounds have been key... Got there in the end!

  • SticksandStars

    SticksandStars said 6 years ago

    Thanks... How about some lighting tips?

  • jnorvelle

    jnorvelle said 6 years ago

    Oh wow I just realized the good tripod I had does the over head thing. I let my daughter get away with it. Now I have a crummy vertical only one. Darn. : /

  • The Etsy Seller Handbook: All Our How-To’s About Selling | The Etsy Blog said 6 years ago

    [...] Setting Up the Shot with a Tripod [...]

  • yemmjewelry

    yemmjewelry said 5 years ago

    thank you for the tip..

  • ribbon05

    ribbon05 said 5 years ago

    Thanks for the tips. I will make sure to use my tripod more often.

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