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Photography 1.02: How To Hold Your Camera the Right Way

Updated on June 7, 2020
Photography Focus profile image

I am passionate about photography and love to teach what I've learned during my 30+ years of working as a professional photographer.

Learning to hold your camera well helps you to take better photos.

If you’re not holding your camera steady it’s possible that your photos will be blurry. This may seem a bit basic, but it is important because it will help your get sharper photos and be more comfortable.

Stability is important, especially when the light is low and you may need to use a slower shutter speed. Holding your camera steady will prevent blurred photos caused by the camera moving. This is commonly referred to as camera shake.

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Hold Your Camera Firmly, But Not Too Tight

You want to hold your camera firmly, but not too tight. With your right hand holding the right side of the camera, place your left hand under the camera body and lens to take the weight. Hold your elbows comfortably by your sides, not spread out like wings. With your elbows tucked in to your sides you are more steady and it’s easier to hold your camera still.

When turning your camera to take a vertical photo, turn it so your right hand is down. This way you will keep both elbows by your side and avoid having your right elbow pointing up to the sky. In this position you may find it more comfortable to press the shutter button with your thumb to take a photo.

Think about how you are standing. Are you balanced and stable? You should be. Stand so one foot is about 30 cm (one foot) in front of the other, with your front knee bent a little. Spread your legs so your feet are about 30 cm apart.

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Lean Against Something for Better Stability

Is there something to lean against to add stability, like a tree, a wall or lamp post? Would you be more stable if you were kneeling on one knee and resting your elbow on the other? Is there a convenient surface to rest your elbows on?

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Use Your Camera’s Viewfinder Rather than it’s Monitor

Using your camera's viewfinder (if it has one) will give more stability than holding your camera away from your body and viewing the monitor. Holding your camera to your eye so it’s in contact with your face will help keep it steady.

When you compose looking at the camera monitor your hands have to be stretched out in front of you. In this position, it is more difficult to hold the camera steady.

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Be Aware of Your Breathing

Be aware of your breathing. If you've just climbed a thousand steps up to a viewpoint or mountain temple, give yourself a few minutes. You’ll be breathing hard and need to wait for your breathing to settle as this will help keep your camera stable.

Everyone differs in how steady they can hold a camera. Generally, I can hold it fairly steady and get sharp photos at 1/30th sec or faster. Slower than this I need some help. I’ll find something to lean against. Resting the camera on a steady surface can work, or using a tripod is best with speeds slower than 1/8th sec.

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Photography Challenge: 1.02

Lens - Standard

Exposure Mode - shutter priority

Focus Mode – Any

Location – Outdoors

Time – Any time of day


In this challenge, you will discover what is the slowest shutter speed you can use and still get a sharp photo.

Set your camera to Shutter Priority. Choose a subject that is not moving. Start with a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second. Take a photo and then change the shutter speed to 1/125th,1/60th, 1/30th, 1/15th, 1/8th, 1/4th, ½ and 1 second, taking a photo of the same subject at each shutter speed.

Repeat the exercise with the same or another non-moving subject. This time leaning against a wall or something steady. Work through the different shutter speed settings taking photos of the same subject. Try to keep your composition the same in each photo you take.

Now try the exercise again with a moving subject. You could stand beside the road and photograph passing cars or have a friend walk past you a few times. Again, work your way through the range of shutter speeds.

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Don’t Forget to Take Notes

As you’re doing this challenge, remember to take notes about what you are doing. Also record your thoughts and observations, not only the camera settings. The camera records what settings you are using and stores this information with each photo. I’ll cover this in another article.

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Check Out Your Results

Look at your results and compare them. You may need to zoom into each photo. Look for a part of the photo that has some contrast and clear detail. This will make it easier to see if it’s sharp or not.

What was your slowest shutter speed in each of the first two exercises where your subject is still sharp? Remember this. Try and improve it. Don’t choose a slower shutter speed than this for static subjects otherwise they will not be sharp due to camera shake.

You may be able to hold you camera more steady in warmer weather. In cold weather when you are shivering you will need to take more care.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Photography Focus

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