How you Hold your Camera Matters. Really!

I love my DSLRs.  I love photography.  I love learning new and better ways to make images and trying to get the most out of my camera.

What? No Tripod?

Although using a tripod will get us very sharp pictures, there are times when we don’t have the tripod handy.  Or even when circumstances, timing or subject don’t permit the use of  a tripod.

One of the simplest areas in which we can improve our images is often overlooked and underestimated:  How we hold the camera.

This is something I have learned very early on into my discovery of photography.  It’s so simple and it makes a huge difference in how our images turn out.  We all want sharp images, right?

This is primarily aimed at DSLRS but can extend to many camera types, such as mirrorless and some point-and-shoot cameras, where the lens extends out of the body in the front and the viewfinder is in the rear.

Use Both Hands

Never ever take a shot with only one hand.  You won’t get a stable shot.  I don’t care how steady you think your hands are, there is no way that you can get as good a shot with one hand as with two.

I am assuming that you have both complete and capable hands.  The cameras were designed to be used for two-handed folks and, of course, if you happen to have only one fully capable hand, then you will need to ignore any statements made here and come up with your own solution.

Left Hand

The primary supporting hand is your left hand, which cradles the lens barrel from below and holds the camera steady.  Supporting anything from below is naturally stronger and takes less effort.  You should be able to easily hold the camera with your left hand alone using this method.

Do NOT position your left hand beside or above the lens.  It doesn’t make any sense to hold it in this way – you won’t be able to hold it close and there is no stability gained.

Often, when I’m out with my DSLR and talking with people, I’m holding my camera with my left hand cradling it at about mid-torso.  It’s actually quite comfortable this way.

Cradling the lens barrel also helps with composing your shot by allowing easy access to the zoom and focus rings on the lens.  You are less likely to get your hand in the way of the shot.  You also are less likely to interfere with items such as the auto-focus light and the flash.


Image credit:

Right Hand

Now we assume that you wont’ be taking photos using only one hand.  The secondary supporting hand is your right hand which naturally holds the grip on the right hand side of the camera.

This is the hand that does a lot of the work such as pressing the shutter button and making adjustments via dials and buttons.  This is one big reason why the right hand is not the primary support when hand-holding the camera.

Hold it Close

You love your camera so you can show it some love.  Don’t keep it away from your body.  Hold it nice and close.

Keep your arms close to and supported by your body with your elbows tucked in nicely.  This helps the image by using your body to stabilize the camera.  Don’t hold the camera out away from your body.  Even if you are using ‘live view’, keep it close.  I don’t often use ‘live view’ but when I do, I still follow these rules to help my images stay nice and sharp.

Portrait Mode

In portrait mode, you will only be able to use one arm against your body because of the orientation of the camera body.  You will still support the camera with your left hand and tuck your left arm in close so that your body can still help to keep the camera still.

When Looking Through the Viewfinder

When you bring the viewfinder up to your eye, let the camera come into contact with and rest against your eyebrow.   If you wear glasses, then the point of contact may actually be your glasses.

Either way, this will provide one more point of contact with your body and help with stability.


I am confident that these tips will help you to make sharper images.  By consciously applying these, you will find that in a very short time that it will become a core part of your image making.

The assumption here is that you are a stable support for the camera.  I will follow up with another post about stabilizing yourself for the shot.






3 thoughts on “How you Hold your Camera Matters. Really!

  1. This is really helpful!
    I have a mirror-less DSLR so it is quite small and possible to hold with one hand, but you are right, it always works best if I stop and take photos with two hands. I used to attempt to take photos as I was walking, but I soon stopped when they ended up blurry!!

    Liked by 1 person

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