Holding your camera properly | Using tripods and monopods

Why do you never see a professional photographer holding a camera at arm’s length to take their pictures?


It’s not that they have fancy cameras with no image live screen on the back (many of them do), it’s because you can’t compose an image as well at arm’s length as you can when it’s tucked up in your face.

In fact of you see a professional photographer photographing like this then they are either one of two things.

1. So confident in their instinctual ability to compose an image that they do not even need to properly look at what they are doing to take a great picture.


2. They are an amateur.


I have a feeling in most cases it will be the latter but let’s not dwell on that too much.

Photography Basics Memory Gate


To take the best picture you possibly can when holding a camera stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart, hold the camera up to your eye with both hands and have your elbows tucked in.


Sounds simple, and it is, but this is the most stable position for taking pictures unless you’re going to use a tripod.


Why and when to use a tripod?


Most photos are out of focus because of camera shake. This normally happens when you are holding your camera and using a slow shutter speed (anything under 1/60th of a second in my case).


By using a tripod you pretty much illuminate that factor and all you have to worry about is if your subject is moving too fast for your shutter speed.


This is why you see landscape photographers using tripods. Keeping the camera steady means that you can use smaller apertures which let less light in but have more of the scene in focus and need longer shutter speeds to compliment them.


Tripods are great for capturing a blurred moment without blurring the rest of the scene. This could be people walking through a scene or blurring the movement of a river or waterfall.


Another reason for using a tripod is if you are bracketing your exposure or creating a HDR image. What you need in both instances is the exactly same scene and unless you can stay perfectly still in between shots then its unlikely that you will be able to achieve this without a tripod.


When you are using a tripod it is best to use a remote trigger or a timer as the act of you pressing your shutter still does add some movement to your camera.




I always used to think these were quite silly and pointless things until I actually started using one of them!

When shooting portraits on location I often experienced a small amount of camera shake due to the fact that photographing children is a fast paced activity. I was using long lenses which added weight to my camera and didn’t really help matters.

As I am constantly on the move in a portrait session, especially ones with toddlers, using a tripod isn’t really an option. The monopod allows me to be far more mobile whilst still keeping my camera steady.

The monopod does slow me down more than if I were just shooting hand-held but that extra bit of time allows me to consider my shoot better. As a result my images have improved so that can’t be a bad thing at all!


Subscribe to the Memory Gate Training newsletter


Facebook Comments

Contact Memory Gate

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)


    I'm intrested in: (required)

    Business ServicesBaby PhotographyFamily PhotographyOther

    Your Message

    Please type text to field below