The way you hold your camera while you’re shooting has profound effects on the quality of your photos. Remember: If you are shooting hand-held, you are the tripod! It’s surprising to see how many people are actually having trouble with that.
Now, as with most things in life, it’s hard to give you a definite right and wrong here. After all the exact way you hold your own camera is still depending on you and your body. But there are some best practices, and in this article, I will share how some professionals go about holding their camera when they are shooting hand-held.
What are the Pros saying?
World-famous photographer Joe McNally gives you some tips on what not to do and how your body posture can influence the stability of your stand and avoid things like back pain and fatigue over the long term. This is especially important if you are on a long assignment or if you are a travel photographer on a long exhausting trip. Joe advises you to take a boxing stand and press the camera into your left shoulder to get more stability when shooting with a wide-angle lens.
Joe will also show you what you have to do when you are hand-holding a very long lens.
Commercial photographer Karl Taylor emphasizes that you should use your elbow, your eye brows and your left hand to effectively form a tripod and support your camera. Karl also shows you how to hold your camera when you are shooting laying flat on the ground or in a seated position. This is very helpful if you want to take a low vantage point. Finally, you will learn how to use objects like trees to give your camera even more stability.
In this video, Pro photographer Brent Mail gives you advice on how to hold your camera in landscape and portrait orientation, and how to support your camera to make it as stable as possible. When in portrait orientation, which is always a bit awkward because your right elbow has to come off your body, he presses his right hand against his forehead to get some stability.
Here, Robert Vanelli gives you an additional tip on how to secure your camera so that it cannot fall on the ground even if you lose hold of it. Just to avoid any misconception, you do not need to build up your muscles the way Robert did, just to hold your camera still. 😉
Finally, the guys of Sydney Portraits give you nice comparisons between the right and the wrong way of holding your camera. They emphasize that your arms and your stand play a vital role and influence the stability of your shooting position immensely.
To summarize the most important points:
- Take a boxing stand. Put your feet apart and bend your knees slightly to be able to control the movement of your body actively.
- Put your left hand under the lens (not over it) to support your camera and lens and control the focus and zoom rings.
- Hold your arms close to your body to get more stability.
- Secure your camera by wrapping the strap around your left forearm.
- Use your eyebrow to increase the stability even more.
In general, you should avoid any instability, and your body should more or less function as a tripod when you’re shooting hand-held.