Do You Want to Understand Your Frustrating Camera and Take Great Photos Today?


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Do you want to understand your camera and take great photos today?

Yes Please

This is a post that a lot of people might brush over without thinking about the importance; I congratulate you for coming this far.

I can almost guarantee that you’re currently making one of the mistakes listed below if you’re new to photography. This post should help to kick out a few bad habits and show you how to hold a camera.

Standing Up

Since holding my camera properly, I’ve been able to reduce the shutter speed because I can hold it still for longer in low light situations.

It’s all to do with the grip you use and the point of your center of gravity, which determines camera shake and balance.

When you have your arm out (like in the image on left) you’re barely supporting the camera, moving your center of gravity away from your body. This may look unusual but it’s something we all do without even realising, especially when it comes to taking portrait photos.

You want to try to keep your elbows close together to provide stability and keep your center of gravity nice and low.

The same is true when you’re shooting in portrait; don’t allow your left arm to separate from your right.

You’ll notice that the second photo is still wrong though; the second hand isn’t being used to correctly support the camera. By placing the left hand under the lens, you’re spreading out the task of stabilizing the camera and keeping any stray fingers away from the end of the lens.

  • Keep your elbows together, against your chest
  • Keep your left hand under the lens, rather than on the side
  • Lean slightly into camera, holding it tight against the forehead
  • Keep your legs open
  • Same for shooting portrait, no excuses.

I’ve already spoken about the center of gravity because that’s what it ultimately comes down to.

The lower your center of gravity, the less likely you are to move about. The closer the camera is to the core of your body, the easier it will be to hold still.

Below is something we’ve all see time and time again, replicated the world over by tourists and art students.

Leaning in and out with your camera might seem like a good idea but, in reality, it’s much easier just to take a step back or forth – don’t be lazy!

Think of it as a game of Jenga with all the bricks leaning to one side: you’re much more likely to shake and topple over. Keep everything straight and aligned for the best results.

If you’re still struggling to keep everything still, there’s an extra technique I’d like to share with you:

There are different variations of this technique, usually differing in what to do with the left hand but this is the way that works best for me.

Use your left arm as a support by placing your left hand on your right shoulder and resting the camera on the top half of the arm. You can then use your camera as normal, just turning to the side of your subject, rather than being straight on.

Try it out for yourself and see what works best for you.

This isn’t a stance I use all that often because it can be a little awkward and I like to be able to zoom but I have resorted to it in the past when needs must.

Sitting Down

No surprises here – sitting down lowers your center of gravity and increases your balance. There is still a right and wrong way to do it.

By stretching your legs out, you’re really only partially supporting your body. By not leaning in, your balance is going to rock back and forth.

By simply lifting up your legs, you have somewhere to put your elbows and, by leaning in, you create a solid core that you can rest your camera on top of.

Having your legs open will stop you rocking from side to side and allow you to take sharper photos at slower speeds.

And yes, I realise that her left hand is not the right way round – oops!

Finally, if you have space to lean on the ground and face forward, this is the best position to be in.

Without wanting to repeat myself too much, you can see what you’re supposed to be doing here.

The position of your legs no longer matter because all of your weight is pushed onto the front of your body, making your arms especially important.

In the first photo, the left hand on the outside of the camera pushes the camera down whereas, in the photo on the right, it’s supporting the camera from any downward action, while providing a firm platform for it to stand on.

Your arms still need to stay close together but not as much as before; they are now acting like legs and need a slightly wider gap to remain supportive.

How to Hold a Camera and Take Sharper Photos

Now you’ve brushed up on how to support the camera, read more here for advice on the technical steps to take perfectly sharp photos!

A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:

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Hey I'm Josh, I'm Photographer in Chief here at ExpertPhotography, and I'm in charge of making sure that we provide you with the best content from the most knowledgeable photographers in the world. Enjoy the site :)

  • I broke out and bought my first “pro” camera a canon 5d for my web design firm. Without tips like these I would have been clueless. I have tore through your posts. I am excited to get out and take some pics of the kids with these holds.

    • Thanks, that means a lot.

  • Gary Truchelut

    This is a topic I never even thought of, luckily I’ve been doing it right. Your advice will be passed on to my fellow photographers.

  • Syed

    Though I am very particular about right-posture, but this is really informative. Thanks and keep doing this good work.

  • Will Morgan

    Hi, I just wondered what your views are on holding the camera in portrait? Shutter button at the top, or shutter button on the bottom. I’d never really thought about it, until when my friend borrowed my camera, I realised I was rotating the photos the opposite way to normal on my computer. Thanks, Will

    • JoshDunlop

      Technically, you’re supposed to have the shutter button at the bottom, and keep your arms together, but I often find myself with my arm at the top. Whatever works for you.