ONE-ARM PHOTOGRAPHY — How the Hell to do that— Still Trying to Figure it out!

So, on Tuesday, I ended up breaking my hand.  I snapped a bone clear in half. Leave it to say, it hurt like hell. Besides the pain, one of the next thoughts I had was how am I going to photograph now with one arm—one hand?  Now I’m not that graceful, so sometimes things fall out of my hands and I really don’t want my camera to fall out of one hand. That’s why knowing that I tend to drop things sometimes I would prefer to photograph using two hands. But for at least the next 6 weeks, if not longer, I may be photographing, if possible, with one hand. So, how am I going to do that? Well obviously it can be done, because one of my favorite photographers, Josef Sudek, was a one-armed photographer, people called him the Poet of Prague.  He lost his arm in World War 1 when he was fighting in Italy. And, he seemed to be able to create photographs. 
Sudek was using a huge, large format camera so that is a bit of a different story, in which the camera was sitting on a tripod but still to put in the glass plates and all kinds of other operations of the camera with one hand must have been difficult to say the least. And in some cases it’s more difficult to operate small objects like a DSLR camera with one hand because you’re trying to hang on to the camera with one hand which goes, in this case, onto the left hand underneath the camera working the lens, and in the right hand, is all the controls, doing all the changes of the exposure, pushing the shutter button, and various other things needed to take photographs. And, I broke my right hand. Curiously, one thing I just really noticed since Tuesday, and I’m surprised it took me 40 years to think about this, but cameras are for right-handers!  
 It’s a right-handers’ world, why should I think anything differently. Us left-handers just have to deal with it.  Nevertheless, I will just have to think in terms of Josef Sudek:  I have a new found respect for this man. Perhaps I can learn a thing or two by studying his history and his photographs and perhaps I will be more inspired to go out now with one hand operational and try to make some pictures.


Sudek was a quiet man but truly indomitable, overcoming both physical hardship and war to produce his images. Born in 1896 in Kolin in Bohemia, his father apprenticed him at a young age to a bookbinder. But before he could become one he was drafted in 1915 into the Hungarian army and sent to fight in Italy.

There in a bucolic country field he was wounded in the arm. Carried to a small rundown farmhouse, his wound went untreated and became infected. To save his life military surgeons removed his right arm at the shoulder and thus ended any possibility of a career as a bookbinder. Later while convalescing in hospital, a doctor, concerned about the young man gave him a camera and encouraged him to stay busy by photographing his fellow patients.


Photo by Josef Sudek.




  1. I’m so sorry about the hand! You can however take this unfortunate event and turn it into a positive one, as in learning to use the left hand [like Sudek]. 🙂 Meantime, I hope your hand heals very soon!


  2. So sorry to hear about your broken hand. What a downer! I can empathize – broke my wrist mid-October, 6 weeks in a cast. Alas, even though fracture had healed & cast removed, it was still painful to use my hand & arm for about another week or so. All in all I experienced a good two months without painting, taking photos & writing. But now it’s pretty well back to normal. Take it easy. All the best, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Linda! Wow! Your wrist! That can definitely mess up painting. We just need to be patient when we get slapped with these hand/wrist/arm injuries. I’ll just need to give it proper time to heal. 🙂


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