How to Shoot Better Handheld Photography

Shooting handheld photography has many benefits. You can get more angles quickly, it's lighter and more compact, and you can experiment more with various creative angles. The downside is you can't shoot HDR photography, long exposures or night photography. 

When I first started out I insisted always staying handheld as I thought all those other forms of photography were just gimmicks. I wanted to be more of a walk around photographer, with exceptions of course. Like night photography. There is really no way around this one unless you have super fast lenses and an amazing sensor.

For the several years shooting all handheld I got some amazing photos. A lot of my best images where even done this way and I learned a lot of great techniques for photography because of the freedom you have shooting handheld. 

I always thought tripods were more for people who were just lazy or couldn’t hold their cameras still since a lot of people have very shaky hands.

Here are some samples of my handheld photography

Streets of Kyoto Japan

 

Japanese Ema Shinto Shrine Prayer Kami

Miyajima Temple of Japan

You can get great results shooting all handheld. It allows you to get in and close and quickly capture very unique angles.

I wanted to learn better and more advanced techniques for photography. I wanted my photos to be more like the fine art landscape prints I've seen in galleries, and a lot of times I just couldn't get there handheld. 

Although handheld had been great but I noticed a lot of my landscape photographs were always a bit soft and didn't have that clarity seen in really high end fine art prints. I always followed the cardinal rule of shooting a minimum of 1/60sec shutter speed for handheld to avoid motion blur. But I noticed, on my big ol Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8 that front piece of glass was heavy and cause more movement. So when scaled in to a 100% crop, my photos were often softer than they should be. So then I began trying to shoot at a 1/100sec shutter minimum. And tried to close down my aperture when shallow depth was not needed. This helped.

5 Photography Tips for Shooting Handheld

  • Shoot a minimum shutter speed of 1/60sec. I usually shoot 1/100sec to play it safe. 

  • Use faster lenses to keep your ISO low, while still keeping a minimum shutter of 1/60sec. 

  • Experiment with angles. Get in close, shoot from below, or from above. Try to take advantage of shots you could never get with a tripod.

  • Stabilize your body. Keep your elbows tucked in and braced against your torso to help minimize camera shake. Or stablize your body against a tree building, stable object.

  • Ditch your lens cap. Use a UV filter for protection instead. You don't want to miss the perfect shot because you left your cap on. 

RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS

For people who are new to photography or just want to know a little more about better gear for shooting handheld or with tripods here are some recommendations.

C-Loop

For the handheld shooter there are a few things I recommend. The first one which changed everything for me was the c-loop camera strap.

C-Loop Camera Strap Mounting Solution, Tips for Photographers

Here it is on Amazon: C-Loop Camera Strap Mount Solution

It attaches to the tripod mount of your camera and allows you to attach your existing camera strap to it which hangs down to your side much making it much easier when walking around. I ordered this when it was just a Kickstarter and I absolutely love it. Especially for 30 bucks.

The Black Rapid

A photographer friend of mine who is amazing uses this one. The Black Rapid.

The Black RapidThe Black Rapid Worn, Tips for Photographers

Here it is on Amazon: The Black Rapid Camera Strap

It’s the same idea just a bit more functional since it has more options. It’s probably a lot cooler than the c-loop but a bit more expensive because it comes with it’s own strap vs letting you use your stock strap. What’s nice about this strap is it has all these great pouches and add-ons. I’ll probably upgrade to this one soon. But for starters the c-loop should be fine.

Hand Straps

Another product my brother is super into is a hand strap. He doesn’t use a camera strap and prefers this thing.

Hand Strap, Tips for Photographers

Here are a bunch on Amazon: Camera Hand Strap They are kind of cool. Not really my thing though.

Battery Grip

The last Item that’s pretty cool and handy for Canon users is the Battery Grip. These are really great for portrait and wedding photographers that are constantly shooting different angles and need the extra grip and stability. The grips attach to the bottom of the camera and provide extra batteries and an extra grip. They also have intervalometer which will allow you to shoot time-lapse. The Canon version I hear is lot less janky than the knock offs. You pay for what you get in this case.

Canon Power Battery Grip, Tips for Photographers

Here is a list of them on Amazon: Canon Battery Grip

Here is a list of the Nikon Versions: Nikon Battery Power Pack

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