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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68 Comments

Matt Rennells's picture

From my experience, it depends on how long you've been a photographer. Old school photographers, that have used handle mount flashes are more likely to use the button down method as that would place the handle mount flash above the camera. I personally use both, as I have a camera with a grip and am used to shooting button up, however I work for a photography company that primarily uses the button down method -- but then again, they're old school and used to shoot film with Metz 45s.

Michael Jin's picture

YOU'RE WRONG!

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Shutter on top. You know, the manly way. :D

I think this is plain stupid! Just need to tell people to shove it. Anyone can hold Their camera aany way they want....it’s theirs!

I personally have always held my cameras flat, with flash on top and the bottom on the bottom, that way my arms are tucked in and holding the weight of the camera.all the ways shown here look very uncomfortable and I am sure no matter which way besides the flash top way will make a persons arm very soar and tired after a while.

But whatever...it’s called a Preference for a reason.

Timothy Gasper's picture

You are correct sir. People need to STOP trying to dictate what is the right or wrong way for holding a camera vertically. It's up to them. Like you, I mostly hold it with shutter down and brace my elbows into my chest are. With cameras with grips on them...I can go either way. My cameras...my choice.

Wayne Denny's picture

Shutter on top if there's a battery grip, shutter on the bottom otherwise. Just feels more comfortable that way. That said, how lame must you be to call someone out on how they hold it? I can't imagine ever caring about something like that...

Richard Twigg's picture

I'd LOVE to see the portfolio of someone telling Irene Rudnyk she's holding her camera wrong. Yeah.....

I was always taught that holding your arms close to your body reduced shaking to a degree. I note that Olympic and World Cup athletes of firearm shooting sports and for biathlon all shoot with their arms held close to their bodies, and their elbows braced against their hip bones. It follows that this is the most advantageous biomechanic body position...

Michael Jin's picture

Maybe it's because I'm fat, but I've found that going out of my way to bring my arms in close just causes more trembling so I've largely given up on it. LOL

Yesenia Gonzalez's picture

I was also always told to hold the camera tight to the body to avoid shake. It works fine with me given the fact that I am a caffeine junkie; it helps me on a slow shutter. It should be whatever works for you and your style.

Darren Loveland's picture

I agree with Michael Jin here, I'm way more comfortable with the right elbow up and out, it gives a better angle of control for me and I can reduce shake that way. I have long arms though. Regardless, there is no "correct" way of holding a camera IMO.

Randy Kepple's picture

This recent series of click-bait articles is driving me crazy! But if this is what the community wants to discuss, who am I to disagree? I'm an old-school photographer (30+ years professional) and I would argue the way she's holding the camera is actually the best way. Why? I'm glad you asked.

Mainly it's about stability. Every body type is different, but the main consideration is to increase your stability (turning yourself into a human tripod). In the video, when she places her shutter hand/arm on top, she's only stabilizing her camera with her left hand. By moving it down (as she prefers), it increases stability by locking her elbow against her body.

Secondly, if you're an event photographer and you are in a large crowd of people, having your elbow sticking out into someone's face, or their personal space, is a quick way to have someone bump you while you're trying to capture that once-in-a-lifetime moment and ruin your image.

You know what I have more of an issue with than this nonsense? Photographers who shoot with their lens hood on backwards. You know...in storage mode like you're going to drop it into your camera bag. Having it on backwards does nothing. It doesn't protect your lens from bumping into something and it's certainly not protecting your lens from flare.

After that, let's do a click-bait article on using a camera strap. Why have a camera strap on your camera if you're only going to let it dangle while you're shooting. What's the point of having it at all? It gets in the way and if you accidentally drop your camera while you're shooting, it's going to be a very expensive lesson on why you put that sucker on your camera in the first place.

Michael Jin's picture

For the lens hood thing, maybe they are not looking to prevent flare or maybe they like the slightly lowered contrast... or maybe they just think that the lens hood makes the lens too long. I've always wondered about this myself and those are pretty much the only reasons that I can think of.

Willian Gomes's picture

About the camera strap, I usually wrap it around my forearm. It bothers me to put on my neck.
(yes, I'm using google translate)

Eric Crudup's picture

Just get something like a Peak Design Cuff and Peak Design Clutch.

Whatever works for you is the right way. Oh and I usually take the LENS CAP OFF...even if Im posing for a picture.

Willian Gomes's picture

Right into the point! Hahaha ;D

Adriano Brigante's picture

I shoot with my TLR sideways, like a real gangsta.

JetCity Ninja's picture

shutter button down so i can keep my elbows in close for better stability.

Simon Patterson's picture

Makes sense to me!

Krzysztof Kurzaj's picture

I see her point about men having stronger shoulders and thus "shutter on top" position being more comfortable. As for why "shutter on the bottom" is not comfortable for most men I would say an average span of shoulders and flexibility plays role. Because men on average will have wider shoulders it's simply less comfortable for them to hold their forearms together in front of them. furthermore operating shutter in such position requires good wrist flexibility and men on average are less flexible than women.
I can confirm that holding camera the way Irene does is for me simply uncomfortable/unnatural and thus I cannot stabilize it properly.
I don't think any method is particularly more effective in terms of stabilizing camera as long as photographer feels fully comfortable holding it one way or another. In case of "shutter on the bottom" theoretically two hands tucked in the the torso can better stabilize camera but I personally would not know much about it since it's uncomfortable as hell for me :)

Take this boys example and hold it any damn way you want. Wow.
https://www.facebook.com/bbcnews/videos/10154567794050659?sfns=mo

Since most bodies or lenses have some sort of stabilization these days it doesn't make that much difference. Sometimes being comfortable might supersede stability.

Michael Jin's picture

Solution: Get a grip with a shutter release so you don't have to worry about this.

Or if you shoot the Nikon Z6/Z7, you're just SOL because Nikon decided to be stupid and not include a contact for such a grip.

marc gabor's picture

And in conclusion... just use a vertical grip. I got a 3rd party grip for about $20 for my Nikon and it has worked reliably for years. Before using a grip, I used to go back and forth between the two because neither felt comfortable. The main problem with not using a grip is the tendency to take photos that aren't level. I find that my images with the grip are much more level than without. My wrist feels better and i move my autofocus points more often resulting in more accurate focusing. the only time i take the grip off is if i'm trying to save space or make my camera look small.

Thomas H's picture

I am holding it "the wrong way." Forever. I like how the both hands stay close to the body. Old Dog does not learn new tricks. I will keep my camera the wrong way, till it will fall off my cold hand and I will be no more...

Crystal Johnson's picture

Whoa whoa whoa! Better watch out guys, she might accuse you of stealing her style of holding a camera, then blast you on YT and IG for it because her ego demands it.

Laughing Cow's picture

Try to use your camera with the button down if, like me, you have set the AE-L button for auto-focus…
Bonne chance !

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