How To Hold A Camera – Photography Basics

With all this talk about taking photos, let’s step back and discuss one way of holding your DSLR or mirrorless camera (drones need not apply). I figure you already know how to hold your phone and action cameras are usually bolted onto something or on a selfie stick.

How to hold your camera

First, let me say there’s no single right way to hold a camera. Hold it however it feels best for you.

What I want to give you in this post is one idea to hold a camera that helps fight fatigue and will hopefully make photography more enjoyable.

The grip

The right hand goes on the main grip. This part seems pretty obvious.

How to hold a cameraThe left hand, I suggest, goes under the lens.

How to hold a cameraThis allows for a few things:

  1. Most of the weight of your camera is taken up by your bicep, which is the largest of your arm muscles. It’s built to lift things up.
  2. Your fingers are typically well positioned to control zoom or focus rings.
  3. If your camera has a depth of field preview (see the recent Photography Experiment on playing with depth of field), it’s easy to press with your fingers.

Some people like to hold the lens like this.

How to hold a cameraWhile not wrong, because there is no wrong way, I find this more tiring in the long run because you’re holding the camera up form the top. You are using your tricep, which is smaller than your bicep. More fatigue when shooting for more than a few minutes.

The arms

The further out your arms are, like this:

How to hold a cameraThe less stable you will be. This is because the weight is resting all on muscle. Not bone.

Try bringing your arms and elbows in as much as you can.

How to hold a cameraThis allows the weight to rest on your shoulders (try lowering the camera straight down from this position and you’ll feel it in your shoulders), rather than your muscles.

Work with your body’s mechanics, not against them.

One more piece

Your hands are on your camera. Your elbows are in. You’re feeling stable.

At this point, I feel the need to point out it’s helpful to hold the camera against your eye.

How to hold a cameraCall me old school if you like. What I know is using the viewfinder instead of the screen on the back of the camera, offers more stability. Your head is now a point of contact to keep the camera steady.

Many people with mirrorless cameras love using the back screen of their camera to compose. This is just fine. But after a full day of shooting, they will feel it in their arms more than someone who holds the camera close.

How to hold a cameraNow take your shot

But before you do, read this first.


I’ve been shooting weddings for over 25 years now and while there is no right or wrong way to hold a camera, I can tell you that, for longevity, this method will put less stress on your body.

Happy shooting!

Questions?  Pop ’em like Pez in the comments section below. or email me at

Photography Basics – A 43 Day Adventure, and its companion 40 Photography Experiments, are series written by professional photographer Peter West Carey. The series are designed to unravel the mysteries of photography, helping you can take better pictures. Subscribe here to receive all the updates and bonus material. Your comments are always welcome.

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