How to hold a camera properly

How to hold a camera - Swiss Photo Club

What is so special about learning how to hold a camera? You might be surprised what a big difference it can make. Holding your camera the correct way will allow for more comfortable shooting and sharper images.

In our beginners classes, we observe that more than 99% of our students make at least one of the mistakes listed below. Do you? This might be the reason why you sometimes end up with blurry images or don’t feel so comfortable taking pictures.

The overall principle is to have your left arm act as a monopod, carrying the weight of the camera. The right hand holds the camera comfortably, moving up for vertical shots while keeping the left hand steady. The left hand changes the zoom.

The earlier you develop good camera-holding habits, the better. It will be much harder to change bad habits as you progress in photography.

If you already know how to hold a camera, check our recommendations article on choosing the right camera for beginners.


How to hold a camera - Swiss Photo Club

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How to hold a camera: 10 rules

Left hand below the lens, not on the side

Avoid the “butterfly position”! The most common mistake we see with beginners, as they try to hold a DSLR like a phone camera.
The left hand should hold the lens from underneath with the thumb facing out. Firm, but not too tight. The left elbow rests on the side of the chest for stability. Tuck your elbows.
Horizontal Holding 1

Vertical grip: Hold your camera with your right hand up

To shoot vertically, position your shutter release up, with your right elbow up. Your left hand stays below and doesn’t move.
Vertical 1

Eyebrow contact

Resting the camera on your eyebrow (unless you’re wearing eyeglasses) will help the stability further by creating a third point of contact.
Eyebrow Contact

Tuck your elbows, and use the viewfinder.

Keep your elbows tucked, so that your elbows are anchored to your chest. This stops the elbows from their natural shake and also allows you to move your left hand under the lens to give it more support. If your camera has a viewfinder, you will find that holding the camera to your face will make it easier to stabilize the setup.
Tuck Elbows

Right hand index finger relaxed on the shutter

To take a picture, squeeze the shutter lightly until you feel the resistance. Wait there for the focus confirmation before full press. A light push is enough; there is no need to press too hard.

Feet apart, left side to your subject

With your side to your subject, you will be able to rest your left elbow to the left side of your chest. Keep your feet apart for additional balance.

Lean towards your subject

We are not sure exactly why, but many students tend to lean backwards while taking a photo. For better stability and for your subject not to feel that you’re shying away from them, have a stable stance and lean slightly forward towards your subject.Lean 1

Exhale, then shoot

Take a breath, exhale, and then take the shot. The best time to take the shot is during what’s called the “respiratory pause.” This is when you’re done exhaling: the most stable moment.

Lower angles

While shooting from lower angles, use the opportunity to create extra support by resting your elbows on your knees.
Lean2 1

Use anything as a support

If there’s a wall, lean on it. If there’s a table, put your elbows on it. The more support you can create for your arms, the better.

Hope that helps! With these new habits, you will take sharper pictures and feel much better after a long day of shooting.

Now that you know how to hold your camera correctly, go ahead and check our article on how to learn photography. Or you can skip straight ahead to checking out our in-person or online photography courses.

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Osan Altun

Osan Altun

Osan Altun is a Swiss photographer & photography instructor living in Geneva. He began photography as a hobby in 2008 with events and landscapes. Later he left his finance career to follow his passion and founded Swiss Photo Club in 2016. He can be found on instagram at @altuno and @altun_travel
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