How to hold a camera: getting started with your new DSLR

How to hold a camera: getting started with your new DSLR

More so than any of your new camera’s features, learning how to hold a camera properly will ensure you get the sharpest pictures possible.

Therefore it’s worth taking a few minutes to practise holding your camera before you start shooting.

When upgrading to a DSLR from a smaller model, it might not feel natural at first where to place your hands. In this quick visual guide we’ve illustrated the different ways in which you can hold a camera, and how to hold a camera so it’s secure.

How to hold a camera: free photography cheat sheet

How to hold a camera: getting started with your new DSLR

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The camera body is designed to be gripped with your right hand and your index finger over the shutter release. You should be able to press the button without having to reposition your grip.

Rest your lens in your left hand. You should be able to twist the barrel of the lens to zoom or focus with this hand, leaving your right hand to grip the camera body.

Tuck your elbows into your body to keep your camera sturdy. The further out your elbows are, the more unstable you will be.

SEE MORE: First camera crash course – simple solutions for mastering your new DSLR

Shooting in portrait format
If you need to switch your camera to a portrait orientation then turn it over so the shutter release sits at the top. If you do it the other way around your arms will become all twisted up!

Eyebrow contact
Lift the camera up to your eye and rest the viewfinder against your eyebrow. This makes another point of contact on the body for more stability.

Place your legs a little apart so you’re balanced. If you’re leaning in to take a shot then move one foot forward to create a sturdier body shape.

SEE MORE: Beginner photography tips – the most common mistakes and how to avoid them

Control your breathing
Breathe out when you take a shot. If you hold your breath or breathe in, you’ll find you move around a lot more. It’s amazing how much of a difference controlling your breathing can make.

Take a mat
When kneeling to take shots outdoors, you might get a wet or dirty knee. Take a mat or a plastic bag to place under your knee for comfort and to avoid ruining your clothes.

SEE MORE: How to set up a camera for the first time – 11 things you need to do first

Bring one leg up
By coming down into a crouching position and bringing your leg up you can turn your body into a human tripod. Place your elbow on your knee to connect your leg and arm together, creating a braced position so you don’t wobble around.

Back panel control
With your hands in the correct position, your thumb is well placed to access the controls on the  back of the camera to alter the shooting settings.

SEE MORE: 24 camera features every beginner must memorize

Rest Elbows
If you have a surface area in front of you, lean your elbows onto it to steady yourself. Look for level surfaces, such as a table or wall.

Lean in
Leaning against a wall creates instant support for your camera. This can be useful when shooting at slow shutter speeds without a tripod.


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  • Teru Kage

    I always shoot in continuous drive mode when I’m worried about slow shutter speeds. Usually the 2~3 photo comes out pretty sharp.