Learning the importance of holding the camera is critical. So far my posts have been about some philosophy around photography. I also want this blog to be about techniques and learning about various ways to create the photographs you want. Therefore this post will start from the very beginning: Learning how to hold the camera steady.
Many People do not Know how to Hold the Camera
Believe it or not, many people who have been taking pictures for years do not know how to hold the camera properly. It takes a little practice, and if you’ve been doing it wrong for a long time it feels unnatural and downright awkward. Most camera manuals have a section that tells you how to do this. Look in your manual –it’s there. Basically you want to hold the camera with both hands, using your left hand as a platform supporting the camera body and your fingers to use the zoom. Your right hand should grip the body and use the index finger for the shutter button. Cameras are designed for right-handed people and those of us that are lefties have long since learned how to adapt to a right handed world. Have your elbows close together and next to your body. Feet should be slightly apart, one a little in front of the other. This provides a stable platform, almost tripod-like in nature. Have your finger on the shutter button and when you are ready to take the picture stop breathing and press the shutter button slowly.
Most people, especially new photographers do not hold the camera this way. They hold the camera any old way, usually with their elbows flying straight out like the camera has wings. This creates a very unstable platform and makes it hard to learn to hold the camera correctly. Holding the camera correctly feels awkward at first and takes practice! While this is especially important for slow shutter speed shots, you should hold the camera this way always. This way you will be comfortable holding it correctly when you really need to. When teaching my class, I’ve actually had people practice this stance and I stress how important it is.
Practice this and get comfortable holding the camera steady. Soon enough it will be second nature and it will feel completely natural. If you find yourself backsliding to your old bad habit of your elbows jutting straight out like Dumbo’s ears, just remind yourself and correct your stance. After a while you won’t even need to consciously remind yourself.
Holding the camera steady is the foundation from which everything else builds upon, yet we give it very little credence.