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How To Mount A Camera For Overhead Food Photography Without A Tripod

Shooting overhead photography means you will probably want something which is perfectly level and this results in you needing to mount your camera. One of the best ways to do this is with the use of a c-stand.

Things you’ll need:

Spigot – to connect your tripod head to the grip head (knuckles)

C stand with grip heads (knuckles) – you’ll attach everything to this and this serves as the foundation of your set up.  **Another option for the c-stand**  

Tripod head – to mount your camera to the grip head. If you already have a tripod head just try to use that as it should work fine. 

Tethering cable – only need this if you want to connect to an external screen like a laptop or other monitor which connects through a standard USB port. 

*External monitor – if you have a laptop then you can just use that with the tethering cable above. Otherwise you can get an external monitor like this one. In this case, you won’t need a tethering cable as you just hook up this monitor to the camera.

*Laptop stand – If you don’t have any tables to use on set or if you will be in different locations a lot, you can get a laptop stand like this one for when you tether. 

Sandbags – To weigh down your c-stand for stability. 

Why You Might NOT Want To Use A Tripod For Overhead Photography

Tripods are essential to photographers for so many uses and they can be useful for flat lays too.

However there are some possible disadvantages: 

  • The tripod legs get in the way of the table or the scene. When shooting flat lays, you want the camera to be directly above the subject and if you have an articulating arm or horizontal arm for your camera this can be easy to achieve. But sometimes you might feel that the tripod legs make it difficult to position your tripod so that the legs do not interfere with the scene you have set up. 
  • Not getting high enough with the camera. With tripods there will be a specific height limit depending on the one you have. While you can get some that can be extended quite high, most will start to limit you once you take larger flat lays.
  • No articulating arm. If your tripod doesn’t have one you would have to buy a replacement or buy a separate horizontal arm to make use of this. Even if you did have an articulating or horizontal arm it can get in the way of the rest of your setup. 

Now that you can see why a tripod can be limiting when doing flat lays, let’s look at how you can use a c-stand set up instead. 

Why A C-Stand Is Best For Overhead Photography

Height –  they rise pretty high so it gives you lots of flexibility if you want to use long focal lengths or use large flat lays where you need some distance from the subject. 

Sturdiness – c-stands are more heavy duty and stable than regular light stands and tripods.

Versatility – you can use them for all sorts of things, whether it’s to attach flags, lighting or the camera. You will always find a use for a c-stand in a studio. 

How To Use A C-Stand To Do Food Flat Lays

The foundation of your setup is going to be a c-stand which is a heavy duty stand which you can mount various things to. This doesn’t have to just be your camera as you could even mount lights to it too. 

Before we look at how to set up your c-stand, let’s go through some quick tips on how to use a c-stand correctly. 

Tips for using C-Stands: 

  • Place any sandbags over the tallest leg of the base.
  • The tallest leg should be directly underneath the weight (e.g. the camera, light etc.)
  • RIGHTY TIGHTY, LEFTY LOOSEY – The knuckles of the c-stand should be on the right.
  • Store them with the big leg over the medium leg. 
  • Make people aware on set. (don’t worry if you have a home studio and you’ll be the only one on set.)

Watch this helpful video to see the above tips in action

Now that you know how to use a c-stand correctly, let’s look at how to set them up for your flat lays. 

How To Use A C-Stand To Mount A Camera For Overhead Photography

There are different arrangements of mounting a camera to a c-stand but the 2 videos below will give you a good idea as to how you can set them up.


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