This is a post that most people would just brush over, not even thinking about the importance, so I congratulate you on reaching this far. I can almost guarantee that you’re currently making one of the mistakes listed below if you’re new to photography, so this post should hopefully help to kick a few bad habits, and show you how to hold a camera.
Since I started holding my camera properly, I’ve been able to reduce the shutter speed on my camera because I can hold it still for longer in low light situations. It’s all to do with the grip that you use and where it puts 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 and 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 because it will provide stability and keep your center of gravity nice and low.
The same is true when you’re shooting in portrait as well; don’t allow your left arm to separate from your right. You’ll notice that the second photo is still wrong though because the second hand isn’t being used to correctly support the camera. By placing the left hand under the lens of the camera, 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 it is, the less likely you will be to move about, and the closer it 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 with 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 to just take a step back or forth – don’t be lazy! Think of it like 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 for the best results.
If you’ve still struggling to keep everything still, then there’s an extra technique I’d like to share with you. There are different variations on this technique, usually with what to do with the left hand, but this is the way that works best for me. You use your left arm as a support by placing the hand on your 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 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.
No surprises here that sitting down lowers your center of gravity and increases your balance, but there’s still a right way and a wrong way to do it. By stretching your legs out, you’re really only partially supporting your body, and by not leaning in, your balance is going to go back and forth.
By simply lifting up your lens, 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 from 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 the room to lean on the ground and face forward, then 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, and that makes your arms especially important. In the first photo, with the left hand on the outside of the camera, it’s pushing 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 the camera. Your arms still need to stay close together, but no as much as before, because they will be acting like legs and need a slightly wider gap to remain supportive.