This topic seems to be one of those common sense skills everyone has, but have you ever thought about the proper way to hold your camera? If there’s a proper way to shoot and adjust settings, there has to be a proper way to hold one. Granted we aren’t in the age of film cameras and with DSLRs are making our lives easier by having good grips and ergonomics, things change drastically when you’re shooting with telephoto lenses (with no IS or VC) or slow shutter speeds. Having the right technique at this point establishes the difference between a great, sharp photo and one that is blurry and out of focus.

These tips may feel odd, but anything we’re not used to feels odd…like rock climbing or golf. It doesn’t always feel right, but your performance speaks for itself.

Here are 5 tips on how to hold your camera:

Tip #1: Tuck your arms in when standing

MISTAKE: Elbows out. It does make it easier for your arm to turn and sway, but this also makes your left hand provide less stabilization for the camera since the lens is being held from the side. Not to mention how heavy a telephoto lens would be, unless you like working out your lateral muscles.

CORRECT: Tuck your elbow into your body. This is so that your arms are anchored to your body’s center of gravity. This prevents your arms from swaying and provides more support for the lens since your hand is under it. You will be able to shoot at much slower shutter speeds without much camera shake. For posture, stand up straight with your legs spread apart in a comfortable, stable stance. Be sure not to lean forward or backwards because that causes more shaking.

Tip #2: Everything can be used as a stabilizer

Even when we do stand properly, we will still get camera shake. This is when you use anything near you: wall, pot, concrete post, lamp, etc to support and stabilize yourself. The world is your tripod.

Tip #3: Do the vampire photographer pose

If a wall or anything stable isn’t present, try bringing your left arm around the right arm and hold your shoulder tight. What this does is restricts movement in your right hand. By placing your camera mid-bicep on your left arm, you now have a more stable base. What helps is timing your breathing by holding it in when taking your shot.

The disadvantages of this technique are not being able to zoom or focus with the lens.

Tip #4: Place your feet on the ground

MISTAKE: crouching on the balls on your feet. That is very unstable and will show in your camera.

CORRECT: Plant your feet on the ground flat-footed, then prop your elbows on your knees or between them.

Tip #5: Sit with your elbows on your knees

MISTAKE: Sitting down and your arms not having support. Sitting down is generally the best choice for those low perspectives, but there are ways to improve your stability.

CORRECT: When sitting, place your feet on the ground with your knees propped up. Place each of your elbows on each knee to use as a brace. This is the ultimate human tripod.

If you have any other tips on how to shoot freehand, let us know!

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