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How to hold your SLR camera | erika snow photography

I have a passion, a love, ok an obsession, and I am so excited to be writing for todays mama on all things photography.
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Just like when I play legos with my son, I like to start with a firm foundation.  So, for my first post I am starting at the very beginning.  I want to give all you mom’s out there a firm foundation to start learning more about your camera and how to capture your families today.

With their recent popularity and lower cost, lots of moms are getting their own SLR (single lens reflex) cameras.  You know, the kind that comes with a fancy lens that you can change in and out.  Now, all you moms who begged and pleaded and said you just HAD to have a new camera, raise your hand if you leave the camera on auto, or “the green box” as I like to call it, the whole time?  Don’t be ashamed you are not alone.  It can be pretty intimidating carrying around your fancy new piece of equipment feeling a bit like the paparazzi at your son’s little league game.  I’m here to help!  So where to start?  Well lets take it out of the box and turn it on.  I’ll wait.

Good!  That wasn’t so scary was it?  Now, how to properly hold the camera is where I’ll get a little more technical on you.  Don’t worry, it’s common sense and many of you may be doing it correctly already.  You will get to pat yourselves on the back shortly.

There is no real right or wrong way to hold your camera.  I am listing some tips and techniques that will help you decrease or eliminate camera shake, fatigue, or the risk of dropping your beloved treasure.  Here is the technique I generally use:

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  1. Use your right hand to grip the right hand end of the camera.  Your forefinger should sit lightly above the shutter release, your other three fingers curling around the front of the camera.  Your right thumb grips onto the back of the camera.  Most cameras these days have some sort of grip and even impressions for where fingers should go, so this should feel natural.  Use a strong grip with your right hand but don’t grip it so tightly that you end up shaking the camera.
  2. The positioning of your left hand will support the weight of the lens and sit underneath the lens, not on top.
  3. When looking through the viewfinder to take your shot, keep your camera nice and close to your body and tuck your elbows into your sides.  This will add extra stability.
  4. Add even more stability by leaning against a solid subject, like a wall or a tree or by sitting or kneeling down.  If you have to stand and don’t have anything to lean on for extra support put your feet shoulder width apart to give yourself a steady stance.  The less you move your body the less your camera will move.
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See? Common sense.  You were probably doing most of those things already.  Gripping your camera in this way will allow you the flexibility of being able to line up shots quickly, but will also help you to hold still for the crucial moment of your shutter being open.  What’s that?  You think there’s more to it?  Nope, really that’s it.  Ok, one more tip just for twisting my arm.  Right before you take your shot, take a breath, hold it, take the shot, and then exhale.  The other method people use is the exact opposite – exhale and before inhaling again take the shot.  It’s amazing how much a body rises and falls simply by breathing – being aware of it can give you an edge.

Of course each person will have their own little techniques that they are more comfortable with and ultimately you need to find what works best for you, but in the early days of familiarizing yourself with your new digital camera it’s worth considering your technique.

Happy Shooting!


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