It’s a must-have tool for sharp photos, low-light work, and long exposures. But a tripod can be a pain to carry, and it’s often forbidden to use one in areas you’d like to photograph. While a tripod is still essential gear, here are three ways to stabilize your camera when you have to do without:

1) Use a monopod. Many public places forbid tripods but not monopods. Sure, they’re not as stable as their three-legged counterparts, but they stabilize a lot better than holding the camera by hand. The single leg means you’ll beless of a nuisance in a crowd, and it can also double as a walking stick.

2) Use a string. This DIY trick from can save you money, and it’s much more portable than any tripod. Cut a length of string to approximately your height and tie one end to a 1/4-inchdiameter bolt and the other to a small weight. Screw the bolt into the tripod mount on your camera, and step on the weight. The tension in the string steadies your camera and allows you ease of movement.

3) Try everything else. Lean against a hard surface (such as a wall or tree), rest your lens on top of a railing, or do what photographer Joel Lipovetsky does: Wrap your camera strap around your arm and wrist tightly, which holds the camera more steadily in your hand.

—Kathleen Davis
Assistant Editor