Field Test: Vanguard VEO AM-264TR

Let's talk tripods for one second. Back in the good old days, tripods were a major part of a photographer's gear, and for some, they still are. You'll still find them in most photographers' office and out and out and about with landscape and wildlife photographers, but for wedding photographers in-particular, they don't always leave the boot of the car. You may be surprised to hear then that I use a monopod at 50% of the weddings I capture, and the advances in monopods over the last few years make them an even more valuable addition to my kit bag.

Wedding photographers don't usually have the time to set up a traditional tripod, their bulky 3 legged stands make them a heavy part of your gear but also a nuisance with hundreds of wedding guests around. Although every wedding photographer shoots in a different way there are some common uses for tripods. Firstly, long exposures are some times required for the night shots of the venue, secondly you may need to capture a bracketed / HDR shot of the venue or wedding reception and finally more and mroe wedding photographers are adding video to their packages and well, a tripod (or rig) goes without saying.

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The best thing about all of the above is that it can be done, with practice and the right gear, on a monopod. We're specifically talking Vanguard’s VEO AM-264TR here, so if you have a traditional monopod, just hold off taking it to your next wedding and keep reading. The VEO AM-264TR has a slightly different design to a conventional monopod, while offering the advantages of being easier to carry and quicker to set up than a tripod. At the base of the VEO are three foldable legs featuring anti slip rubber feet, these foldable legs provide a tripod style stand... but without all the hassle. There's also a ball joint at the bottom which allows for smooth pans and tilting, perfect for wedding photographers who also shoot video. If you don't require the tilting and would rather the monopod stays secure and upright, there's a great ball-head tigthening screw that keeps everything vertical. When the tri-stand feet are folded securley up, which is perfect for traveling, you will find a rubber foot which allows you to use the monopod in all its traditional format.

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I have no problem taking the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR to the weddings I shoot, its superb finish means it's going to look professional, it beats having a tripod were the legs are usually too wide to spread, I can also mount a tripod head onto the top, another plus for videographers. Finally, the sensible price compared to the competition, but yet it doesn't compromise on build quality, gives it the overall winner of monopods with all that tri-stand goodness.

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So if you needed any other reasons why the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR should make its way into your photography kitbag, here's 5 ways I use this funky bit of kit at weddings:

Behind The Scenes

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I'm always looking to capture BTS shots of me working at weddings, it might sound a bit pretentious, but I would reccomend all wedding photographers to try it. Firstly it gives you great shots you can use on your social media, sure couples want to see plenty of your wedding snaps but having a few shots of you working, just reassures them of your professionalism and that it's you that rocks up to shoot their wedding. Secondly it gives you imagery you can use for your own professional development, for me personally, I'm always needing shots of me at work for blog posts and submissions... take this blog post as an example. Finally it gives you cracking pictures you can use on your personal social media accounts, chances are all your friends see your wedding snaps on a regular basis, so giving them something a little different from time to time keeps them engaged in the content you produce.

Lightweight & Easy To Carry

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The great thing about the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR is its weight and size. It's so compact and lightweight you can attach it to the side of your camera bag or even throw on the back seat of your car without any problems. For a reasonable price and insignifacnt weight that it will add to you I can't recommend one enough. When I'm not shooting weddings I still take the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR around with me, it attaches perfectly to my Billingham >> Awesome blog here << and allows me to capture video, high vantage points and long exposures whilst I'm out and about. Geek alert: it also makes for the perfect selfie stick, you can position the monopod and stick the camera on self timer to grab a shot if you're on your own or with family and friends... or you can use as a huge selfie stick if you so wish.

Long Exposures / Venue Shots

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Every wedding photographer needs shots of the venue both inside and out. Typically you will capture these shots throughout the day, when you arrive with no guests around, middle of the day with all the guests in the shot and last thing at night when daylight has passed and the guests are partying away. Typically the shots through the day can be captured handheld, although I do find myself using the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR for the internal shots of the venue and wedding reception to capture bracketed / HDR shots. My main reason is to ensure all the highlights (usually windows / entrances) and shadows are not over/under exposed.. but I'm sure you all know how bracketting works. The VEO with its three foldable legs means it's perfect to grab these shots ensuring the camera stays in a fixed position.. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom will thank you for this!

Video

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As I mentioned briefly above, more and more wedding photographers are adding elements of video or even full video into their client packages. There are some top photographers out there who are killing the combination of still and moving image and honestly their work is out of this world. For me I use video for various reasons, firstly and it comes back to my professional development again, I use it for blog and social media content. Without giving you a boring lesson on video and social media, we all know video is pushing the boundaries and rules the social media game currently, so the more video you add the stronger your social media presence will be. Secondly I use video to document my journey as a wedding photographer, it might be behind the scenes footage, videos of me working or traveling to awesome destinations. Whilst I might not upload the content, I have it available for when the day comes I want to use it for advertising or create a montage of my year etc. Finally the video can be used to give your clients another add on / package to your work... it goes without saying all couples would love to have a cinematographer/videographer at their wedding but if the budget just wont stretch, offering a video alongside your wedding photography may just be the solution... if you can master it! The Vanguard VEO AM-264TR is perfect for capturing quick video footage, it's not going to set the world alight when you compare it to the camera rigs and tripods out on the market, but if you want something that's quick to set up, easy to carry around, eliminates camera shake and gives you the use of movement and panning with the ball joint, then I highly recommend!

Vantage Points

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I'll let you into a secret, every wedding I capture I always plan to try something new with my photography. It usually consists of a pose I haven't tried before, something experimental with my camera settings, a new piece of kit or most commonly a new perspective/vantage point/angle. Whilst the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR, nor any monopod for that matter, wasn't built for this idea in mind, you can use it to create a collection of new perspectives in your wedding photography. You don't need me to explain this one, it's a case of grabbing yourself a VEO Monopod and trying out some new vantage points!

That's it for the Vanguard VEO AM-264TR review, if you want to find out more about this awesome monopod and to purchase your own visit: Click Here