For the longest time, when I wanted to use my camera to make a great portrait, I had to rely on the built-in self-timer. Have you ever made that dash from the camera to the location of the shot in three seconds, five seconds, or ten seconds? It doesn’t matter how much time you give yourself, it always seems like you’re making an awkward image.
It is also difficult to obtain an artistic focal point in the image when you can’t focus on yourself from behind the camera lens. With both frustration and necessity, I’ve learned some better approaches that enable you get around the 10-second timer shot!
Use a Wireless Remote
With my Sony cameras, I have two different kinds of remotes: a Sony Infrared (IR) remote and a Vello Remote Trigger. They both work differently and serve different use-case scenarios.
The Sony IR Remote is perfect when you are using a standard size lens on your camera body. The IR receiver is on the front of your camera and when it needs a line-of-sight view in order to trigger the shutter. If you’re using a larger sports lens or anything above 77mm with a hood attached, that line of sight will be difficult to obtain from directly in front of the camera. Over time, I have mostly abandoned the IR remote in favor of other options.
The Vello Wireless Trigger is a better option for triggering the shutter, Off-Camera-Flash (OCF), and for the adventurous a second camera. The Vello uses radio signals like Wi-Fi so that you are not bound by line-of-sight issues and the lens choice for your artistic productions. Also, you gain the advantage of mounting your Speedlight Flash onto a trigger and placing it anywhere in the range of the shot you want to create. This gives a lot of creative flexibility for almost any scenario. Using the Vello outdoors also to get further away from the camera and create incredible landscape shots with you in the scene.
Typically, that those two options would satisfy most photographers looking for wireless remote shutter options. However, I have found one better.
The Smartphone Wi-Fi Remote App
One of the great value additions from the Sony Alpha camera is the full-featured remote iOS and Android app. Using the built-in Wi-Fi in the camera body, the remote app connects the camera from a tablet or smartphone. What makes this option superior to simply using the IR Remote or the Wireless Trigger is the that you also get a View Finder of your scene for your phone or tablet. This give you the ability to change your lens focus when you have an auto-focusing lens attached. Additionally, I use my remote with my studio strobe light remote equipment attached. This gives me the ability to trigger multiple monolights and build a beautiful scene.
Since the camera sends a JPEG image of each shot I make to my tablet, I can immediately evaluate and reset without ever having to go back behind the camera. This technique has become such a game-changer in my production workflow that I often use it in my studio portraiture. It provides a means to quickly show my talent or client the images we are making and how they direct to produce the best results.
The other benefit of using the Smartphone apps is that I can tether my camera to my laptop and also have each shot ready for post-production immediately. Any technique that can speed up your production workflow enables to provide more value to your client and faster turnaround on your final products.
Go experiment and experience remote shooting for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find other scenarios where it is beneficial to your image to get your finger far and away from the camera.