Let’s talk chairs! For us photographers, that sounds mighty boring. However, I picked up a little thing called the Walkstool (www.walkstool.com), a little tripod for your tush, and it turned out that this is one of those things that is worth writing about.
With all the talk of cameras and lenses and other forms of accessories including the massive quantity of gizmos that we play with (I mean… invest in), it is conveniently easy to forget that great shots ultimately come from interesting angles and tremendous patience. Lacking either will cause shots to be lost.
Getting low and staying low can be agonizing after even a short period of time. Shooting is hard enough without making it extra tedious. If your feet start to hurt, attention wanders and back home you go–and short days cost shots. Having a place to sit, shoot from and be comfortable makes it all the more likely that we’ll be where we need to be when the shot arises. Through the years I have become a master in discomfort. I will contort and suffer for hours and hours, facing sunburn, bad knees and a sore back for days following hard shooting. I’d walk, kneel, sit on the ground, lay on the ground, get up, down, contort and suffer.
With my recent embracing of sports photography and painful low-to-the-ground posturing for extended periods of time, I looked into a small stool. Not only did I find one, but I also found a ton of regret that I hadn’t found it earlier.
My dream find is the simple stool called a Walkstool. I already carry a lot of gear and the last thing I needed was more weight. I thought of those folding ground seats that help support your back, but they are exactly wrong for photography. My search brought me to this little stool with great reviews mostly from older/overweight folks who need a regular sit-down solution. One review, however, caught my eye — a pro sports shooter who seemed extremely happy with the solution. The reviews all cited durability, comfort, weight and functionality. Other than cost, that’s pretty much the quad-fecta of perfection. Each stool allowed for two seating heights; the stated height and just a few inches when balanced on the unextended legs. Perfect!
When it comes to photography, my functionality needs are a bit more specific. My seat needed to put me exactly where I would have been had I been on my knees shooting in my prior sports position. The Walkstool does that; and so I made the move.
A word about cost; this thing isn’t cheap by porta-stool standards, but it is downright economical when compared to a single trip to the chiropractor or a single missed shot. I see them for sale at nearly $100 but this is already generating some shots I would not have otherwise been able to get.
Strong, Light and Functional
The stool is made to be super light and super strong and there is no question that this thing is able to be unobtrusively carried and, honestly, lighter than many camera bodies. The webpage for the stool shows four of these little things holding up a car. I didn’t test it under those conditions, but I’ll tell you that it supports my big frame with no problem and even my other pro shooter friend who is nearly 400 lbs. Strength and weight do not seem to be an issue and I cannot imagine any better design.
One extra cool function is that the legs can be retracted and the stool lowers to just a few inches off the ground, balanced on the tip of the legs. It’s a little wobbly, but ultimately allows for far more comfortable shooting in a position four inches above the ground than if I were sitting flat. No worries there.
So does it work? Works as advertised.
I can report that other shooters were coming over to check out the stool and were blown away by the little unit. I think that a number of sales will result from the sports photographers from this little game-time show-and-tell. It is rare to find a piece of gear other than a lens or something obvious that can have such a meaningful impact on some aspect of my photography. I think that this is one tool to help me stay, be comfortable and get great shots. Money well spent!
Over the next few weeks I’ll try to get some photos of the Walkstool in action. Until then, let’s get on our tuches to shoot.