Photography as right below elbow amputee [technical tips]

I was surprised to see that (according to a recent news article [link]) an Otto Bock Michelangelo hand was required to reclaim one's role as photographer:

"This Michelangelo is quantum leaps ahead of anything I have ever been able to do before," Wigington said.

The hope is, with training, Wigington can reclaim his position as the family photographer.

(quoted from on Dec 13th 2012). 

It appears that in over some 20 years of being a right below elbow amputee, Dave Wigington has not been able to figure out how to use a camera well, swift, fast and proficiently.

It appears that in over some 20 years, one now requires a particular "bionic" hand to be a family photographer.

This is extraordinary.

See, it took me exactly a day or two after the amputation to figure out that my camera still worked the exact same way. That was before "bionic" prostheses came along.

So there is a big difference between my own experience and between Dave Wigington's experience.

Seeing that there are obvious differences in what people think they can or can not do, I tried to see where the problem might be.

From there, I will illustrate some ways of taking photos singlehandedly, with the left hand, and / or with my prosthetic arm. If Dave has problems, other people may find this instructive. Who knows. 

Difficulties with dexterity

In his lecture titled "tragedy to triumph", Dave gives several examples of his ability to squeeze his myo hand full force. He marvels at the technical intricacies of his myoelectric arm. He repeatedly states that with his (conventional) myoelectric arm, he "has a lot of fun".

He further detailed how he got his hand in the meat grinder. It appears that after sticking his hand into the grinder and setting it to fast forward, he did not bleed a lot.

From following his instructions, one is impressed how natural recoiling of severed arteries can be interpreted as "supernatural" result of his communing with his heavenly father.

He then declared that his (as any) present circumstances do not alter the word of God, nor dilute His word of power. He said that he could do all things through Christ which strengthens him.

Also he said that he had fixed bicycles.

Analysis of this video

We have to be realistic about our bodies, about prosthetic arms and hands.

Holding an object of 200 to 900 grams of weight - which is what cameras usually weigh - does not require a particular prosthetic hand at all.

There is no requirement to wait for any particular prosthetic, or, for a prosthetic arm at all, if all we want to do is take pictures with a camera.

What really plays a big role in handling cameras - which appears to be Dave's predicament -  is having a reliable approach at holding, handling and operating cameras, and, an interest in using it to actually take good photos. Cameras need to be kept out of harm's way, though.

Seeing as if Dave's situation does not weaken God and seeing as if God saved his life, why did God not help Dave take photos?God opened his doors so far as it appears - but maybe we may now have to let everyone know that it is also OK to take pictures without a particular hand or prosthetic or so. I mean, we can take pictures no matter what.

Taking pictures

The main rules about taking good pictures are not at all related to specifically detailed manual actions handling a camera. That means, it is not prescribed that one must use an index finger, for example, to push a button when the button can be pushed otherwise. It is also not required to use a right, or, a left hand - one can go about using a camera in one's own way. You will find a way to trigger the thing and if it is by using time lapse, a remote control or by pushing a button with the stump.

One is therefore quite free to approach the subject.

There have been people without arms taking photos. I take photos with or without prosthetic on, and I would rather not use a myoelectric arm due to reliability issues with that type of technology.

After all, cameras can withstand all kinds of exposure but hard falls are the most difficult for them to survive. Even God cannot prevent hard falls too many times, and I did seriously damage three cameras by not being able to counteract gravity.

Best to use a strap to secure the device. Do not worry about other aspects.

Taking pictures without prosthetic

Taking pictures with prosthetic hook

Using TRS Jaws, a relatively reliable grip may be obtained:

Taking pictures with prosthetic hand


Do not get carried away with silly stories. Just do what you have to do. If you want to be the family photographer, BE the family photographer.

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: - Photography as right below elbow amputee [technical tips]; published 30/05/2014, 20:51; URL:

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1634848307, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{ - Photography as right below elbow amputee [technical tips]}}, month = {May}, year = {2014}, url = {} }