Do You Look Like an Amateur When You Hold Your SLR?

Ok, so a lot of us are amateur photographers, but there’s really no need to look like a complete amateur when we pick up and point our SLR or DSLR to get a shot. Holding your SLR properly, while not making it totally obvious that you are not a pro, also has a lot of advantages. Here’s what you need to know.

For starters, holding a camera at both sides of the body like the picture below is usually a dead give away that you don’t know what you are doing.

Improper way to hold camera

The problem with this grip is that you haven’t really got maximum control of the movement of your equipment and so problems such as blurred photos due to shaking are going to crop up. The slower your shutter speed, the more pronounced these negative effects are going to be.

Secondly, you don’t have instant access to the capabilities of your SLR or DSLR because you have to remove your left hand to use the controls on your lens. This is not a great state of affairs.

Now, while you will have a hard time eliminating camera shake altogether with solwer shots while you are hand-holding your camera, there are a few things you can do to minimise the problem and most of the time, it won’t be any problem whatsoever.

The widely-regarded best way to hold your SLR is to grip the lens with your left hand and use your right hand for the body controls (which are primarily positioned on most SLRs to be most accessible using this grip).

Here is the correct way to hold your SLR:

The Correct Way of Holding A Camera

And here is a great little Youtube demonstration:

Other resources on how to hold a camera:

43 thoughts on “Do You Look Like an Amateur When You Hold Your SLR?

    1. Scott

      I laugh at them all, I will not posture and pose for anyone,
      I do believe that I am secure enough in what I am doing and how I am doing it.

  1. dcclark

    Well, it’s worth pointing out that in a pinch, anything will do if you HAVE to get that photo you just saw! Plus, if you’re me, you contort yourself into some pretty weird shapes to get the lens pointed in just the right direction.

    But yes… hold that lens with one hand… it’s the right first step for all of us.

  2. Billy

    If your Pentax K200D has Auto Focus, and you use it at times, then holding the lens is NOT recommend. Holding the lens on a DSLR is not ALWAYS appropriate.

  3. Howard

    The traditional SLR grip works great when you choose to look through the viewfinder but with many DSLRs offering live view and people deciding to use that feature then you obviously cannot go for the ‘recommended’ stance. I don’t recognise the camera model used by the photographer in the first image but it looks to me as if they’re using live view rather than the viewfinder, hence you cannot really criticise them for not using the traditional grip.

  4. Darren

    @howard – why not hold the lens with auto focus on? I use a K20D and always hold the lens – no support otherwise

    @Craig – what is wrong with using the pop up flash? It is there to be used. I have been shooting for about 30 years and often use the pop up flash

    1. Scott

      Thank you, some people might still be paying off their other expenses, BUT you do have to realize that the ‘pop up’ has a very limited range.

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  6. Jen

    Uh… well about the auto-pop-up flash.. how do you get rid of it popping up at a moment you don’t expect? D: *is a pretty noob with her camera*

  7. Ann

    Jen..there is a button where you can turn off the flash..that or learn to use the manual setting or Tv, Av or P. We were all new once.:)

  8. Cattsy

    I have to say that I disagree with this article. I hold my camera in “the proper way” and to be honest, I think I look like an idiot. However, I think using a camera is all about where you find comfort. Even if “professionals” think you look stupid if you don’t, if you find it comfortable to hold it a certain way, than I think you should be free to; it’s your camera and you should use it the way you see fit.

  9. Henry HotShoe

    Great information…getting the basic techniques down early on is important. It’s like leaning to hold a golf club correctly when your first learning to swing. It might not be the most comfortable grip when you first try it, but it becomes more natural for you as practice. Before you know it, you don’t even think about it.

  10. jimk022

    *pop up flash–I use mine as the master (set at 1/32 power) to set off my slaves. My Nikon D40 allows me to do this.

    Last night (Christmas Eve) I was taking a photo of a nativity scene. I wanted to use my off camera flash–the batteries were dead. That will happen when you forget to turn off the flash. I used my pop up and place the diffusion box from my off camera flash over the pop up–blinded myself every time I took the photo but the results were very pleasing (IMHO).

    Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do!

    Have a blessed Christmas!

  11. ChazBowie

    Personally, I am completely uninterested in what others think about me when I am in the process of working. I am an unorthodox shooter anyway. However, when in photo pits at live events, I usually find other photographers following me around trying to get the same shots I am getting…

    As for the pop-up flash, I have used it many times for fill flash when I did not have time to grab my other flash. It is not the tool or the camera, it is the photographer and the person using them that determine proficiency.

    I cannot remember if it was Ansel Adams or Weston that once used a Kodak Brownie camera (fixed shutter, focal length and aperture) to take some photos to silence critiques that his pictures were the result of the tools chosen. So before you assume someone is an amateur because of how they hold their camera, or because of the equipment they use, you need to pause and wait until you see their results.

    I think the arrogance of some people making assumptions about others shows their lack of security about themselves. Relax people! Worry about YOUR work and not that of others!

    1. Avatar of LightStalkingLightStalking Post author

      You know, I think I am still gonna play the numbers on this one. People who look like amateurs probably ARE amateurs. Sure, you’ll meet an unconventional genius once every now and then, but it’s still pretty unlikely.

      1. Chill

        I’ve seen Joey L holding camera on shoot just like the first guy. What a noob, huh. There is no “right” way on holding a camera. Whatever feels natural.

  12. Don

    You know, if people saw how I hold my camera most of the time they’d probably think it a miracle that I get any good captures at all.

    I whole heartedly agree with using a lens-supportive stance for people that are either just getting started or in unstable places … but once you learn your art and gear, do what it takes to get the shot right.

    If someone giggles at me for using a Canon Rebel XT as my backup … or using the pop-up flash for fill … or for hanging my 5D off to the side with one hand, that’s cool. They still end up buying the prints, and that means I’ve reached my goal for that shoot.

    Do I look like an amateur? Possibly
    Does my art? hmmmmmmmm

  13. PAUL RANDALL

    SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO HOLD THE CAMERA IN A DIFFERENT WAY. ONE HANDED WITH OUT LOOKING THROUGH THE VIEW FINDER. IF MY PHOTO COMES OUT ON THIS SITE YOU WILL SEE.

  14. Michael Wiesman

    I believe the original intent of this article was to inform photographers what a better way of holding your camera is. I would have a hard time holding the frame still at a 1/30s if I held my camera as pictured in the first picture. Photography, like all trades has a set of basics that are proven to help you get better results. Holding your camera like a “pro” has nothing to do with looking like a ‘pro’ It’s been proven that you can hold a steadier shot by putting that hand under the lens. Not to mention when holding that big glass it’s waaaaayyyy easier on your camera/lens mount and will save you many trips to the chiropractor!

      1. DanC

        OK if you shoot non moving items but when shooting a band playing in dim lighting tripods are useless

  15. samuel

    Everyone at early point in their photographic life was an amateur photographer. Whats there to be embarrassed about it? Photography is a continuous learning subject . We are learning every time and so do experts. Thanks for that article.

  16. Jess Merrill

    So, what is the proper way to hold a camera that does not have an optical viewfinder, i.e. the typical point and shoot that only has an lcd screen on which to compose the photo?

  17. Borg Tundag

    Why won’t people just admit that the design for most of the DSLR are for the left eye. It partially cover your right eye, so you can shoot with both eyes open. Less strain to the other eye that you keeps on closing.

  18. Kerik

    I have to disagree with this one. I shoot however it’s comfortable and however it works for the shot. A lot of my clients have kids around 18 month old and I usually am on the floor of my studio with them – sitting on it, laying on it – whatever it take to get that really great shot. Do my clients care how I hold my camera? No way, as long as the end result makes them happy that’s all that matters to me.

  19. Renie

    I don’t like snobs of any kind and some of the comments really are too much. I understand the point of holding a camera correctly, but to laugh at others for not doing so is rude. They too will learn, but the bottom line is the end result of a good shot. One of my teachers years ago, long before digital cameras, told me that if you get ONE good shot out of say 35 on a regular film camera, you are doing well. I think the same goes for digital photography; I take a lot of shots, just to get one good one.

  20. Avatar of LightStalkingLightStalking Post author

    That’s kind of the point isn’t it. You are far less likely to get a good shot unless you are supporting your camera properly. The way to do that is long established convention.

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  22. Brian

    I find that for me, the video does not realy apply. My lenses are fixed focal length and autofocus, so I do not need to wrap a hand aroung the lense… I do like to have my left hand under the lense to stabilize it, but i actually find myself using the back of my hand… For some reason it does not feel right to have my palm holding the lense up..

    For the most part I like to use a tripod, but when on the move, this is not always practical.

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  25. Rajan Ugrankar

    The technique mentioned in the latter part of the Article is correct.——Rajan Ugrankar.

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