The greatest training I ever had for camera work came from marching band.

What? How is that so? There was no camera involved in marching band.

Marching band is strenuous. You have to perform an 8 minute show. March around the field, staying within the lines, hitting your spots, watching the drum major while watching other people around you, while playing music that you have memorized (and people don’t consider band a sport).

It is one thing to be able to march, but then to be able to do so while you are playing your instrument? That takes a lot of core work. What we were told in marching band is to lengthen your torso, separating your upper and lower body (imagine there was a meat hook underneath your ribcage that is pulling you apart – yes this is the actual analogy they would use). This would allow you to hold your upper body relatively still while you were moving. There are other techniques that probably would have transferred over, but I played saxophone and we just had a different method for holding our horn than the brass. But having a “power triangle” might help in steadying your shot (elbows at 90 degrees, which I am actually doing, just in a lower position, but check out the trombone).

This training has helped me be a better camerawoman. I sometimes march when I have to do a moving shot, especially when going backward. And I am rather proud of the stability of my work.

Another thing to think about is your breathing. If you’re holding the camera, using a shoulder rig or not, your breathing might affect what you are shooting. So you have to practice not breathing with your shoulders, and breathing from your diaphragm. This will help you steady the shot.

For an example of my work, check out our segment “Geo with Joe.” For the entire series, I had a DSLR on a tripod head that I held while riding in the passenger seat. All I did was rest the “pan arm” on my shoulder and then held the rest using both hands. We hit some bumpy roads along the way, but for my first time doing car shoots, I was impressed with myself.

Things to remember:

  • Lengthen your body, separate your upper and lower body
  • Tighten your core
  • “Power triangle”
  • Breathe from your diaphragm
  • Practice, practice, practice