How to Hold a Camera

"Knowing how to hold a camera is essential
for all photographers."

For the times when a tripod is just not practical, camera stability will depend solely on how the camera is held.

With stability in mind, the number one rule is to use both hands. This is particularly important with SLR cameras since they tend to be much heavier than point and shoot cameras.

The camera holding technique that will be described is intended for an SLR camera but it can be easily converted to use with point and shoot cameras.

Hand Positions

Right Hand

The majority of cameras are made for right hand dominant users. The right hand is used for camera control and rotational stability (keeping it vertical).

To properly grip the camera with your right hand, use the following steps:

  • Place the crease of your palm on the right edge of the camera.

  • Curl your last three fingers around the face of the camera.
    • Keep them slightly bent and curled a bit downward.

  • Wrap the wrist side of your palm around the back of the camera.
    • Leave the thumb free to work the exposure knob.

  • Wrap your index finger on top of the camera.
    • It should be free to release the shutter and work any other controls located in that area.
    • Remember, do not jab the shutter release, squeeze it.

Left Hand

The left hand is used to help support the camera body and lens.

To properly grip the camera with your left hand, use the following steps:

  • Grip the back end of the lens with your thumb and index finger (palm up).
    • Use your middle finger as well for longer lenses.

  • Use the rest of your hand to support the camera body.
    • Some photographers curl their unused fingers to help fill the space between the left palm and camera body.


Cameras may not seem very heavy, but try shooting candid photography for an hour. Trust me; eventually your arms will get tired. Supporting the camera properly helps alleviate muscle tension and will allow for much longer shoots.

Keeping your elbows in tight and rested on your torso helps take the weight of the camera off of your arms.

This also helps stabilize the camera by preventing the possible pivoting or swaying of your arms.

More Support

Now that the camera is supported and your arms stable, find a large stationary object to help stabilize the rest of your body. Lean against a wall, a car, or a tree to help keep your body from swaying.

Note:I still recommend using a tripod whenever possible. While learning how to hold a camera is essential, but nothing beats the stability of a good tripod.

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