Are You Holding Your Camera Wrong?

If there's anything the Internet loves more than cat photos, it's pointing out to people that they're doing something the wrong way.

In this video, portrait photographer Irene Rudnyk responds to complaints that she has received in YouTube comments about the way she chooses to hold her camera vertically. For her entire shooting career, she has always held the camera vertically with the shutter button toward the bottom. As it turns out, many people have been systematically taught that this is wrong, and that holding the camera vertically should always have the shutter button towards the top.

After doing a little digging, Rudnyk claims she coincidentally found that male photographers almost always teach the shutter on top method, while it was only female photographers that taught the shutter on bottom preference. For me personally, I too was taught that shutter on top was the only correct way after first starting out doing it shutter on bottom. I changed up my style to not look like a fool, and now it's just muscle memory. But Rudnyk's demonstration as to why this style of shooting might not be comfortable to women was news to me, and I think knowing this we should back off a little on the assertion that all photographers need to work one way or they are "wrong."

What's your preferred way of holding the camera vertically?

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63 Comments

Previous comments
Jim Kahnweiler's picture

There I was, shoulder to shoulder with about 20 other photojournalists, trying to get the shot. We were about four deep in a courthouse corridor, jostling for position. In the front row some guy (and in those days, they were all guys), was holding his camera with the button on top, his elbow blocking the shot for those behind. "Put your arm down!" someone shouted and elbow immediately disappeared as the photographer switched to button down. Not only had he extended professional courtesy to his colleagues, but he also had a better chance of a clean shot in the low light with his camera supported with his elbows against his body.

Keith Meinhold's picture

With the lighter bodies (like the Sony Mirrorless that I use) I find that I need to support the lens as much, if not more than the camera. That support for me means I cradle the lens which forces the shutter button to the top in portrait mode. I suspect (but can't recall) that I held my big heavy DSLRs just the opposite.

Shutter button up is the most efficient way biomechanically.
She doesn't even understand why that is.
The right hand is not supposed to hold the camera's weight by the grip, the left hand is supposed to hold the entire camera by the lens. The left wrist is straight and the lens is resting on the palm, so there's no tension in the wrist, and the right hand is there only to press the shutter, no tension, no shudder while squeezing the shutter button.

Shutter button down introduces too many points of tension.
First of all, the camera weight is supported by her fingertips which will get fatigued quickly and introduce camera shake. On top of that, the same stressed hand is supposed to press the shutter which makes it even more likely to shake the camera because the center of gravity of the camera is now above the shutter button. Lastly, the left hand can't even help effectively because her left wrist is not straight nor below the camera, but holding the lens from the side.

That's science and facts, not a matter of preference.