How to Shoot With Your Left Hand Only

by on December 26, 2009

in Technique

Shoot With Your Left Hand Only

This topic was brought up by a reader who broke his right arm and asked how he was supposed to take photos and operate his camera with just his left hand.

Even if you are left-handed, cameras are designed to be gripped and operated primarily using the right hand.  That’s why the grip and shutter release are on the right side.

If you have to go one-handed on your camera, you want the right hand to be holding it.  But what do you do when you can’t use your right hand for 45 days?

Sure, you can carry around a tripod for a month and a half, but you’ll probably be without a camera quite often if it has to have a tripod attached to it every time you go out.

So, what are your other options?

When I first read of this predicament, I scratched my head for a couple of minutes.  Then I did what you know you are going to do (if you haven’t done it already) – I picked up a camera and tried to shoot with my left hand only.

It wasn’t easy.  In fact, I felt like a fish out of water.  However, after practicing for a little while, I think I can offer some practical tips that will help our gimped-up reader and anyone else in this predicament.

First, don’t forget the Principles of Photography Marksmanship – grip, stance, shutter release, and breath control.  One hand or two, these still apply.  Obviously though, some modifications are in order.

Your grip and hold of the camera will take the most adjustment.

Left-Hand-Only Shooting Tips

1. Cup the camera with your left hand from the bottom.

2. Place your thumb near the center of the camera and wrap your fingers around the front on the right-side grip.

3. Depending on the size of the camera, use your index, middle or ring finger to activate the shutter release.

4. Use the optical viewfinder and push the camera into your brow.  This creates another point of contact to help you stabilize with what is a shaky left hand (for most of us).

5. Tuck your left elbow into your body to help stabilize your forearm (and raise your shoulder slightly, if necessary).

6. Now, it’s back to the basics – gently press the shutter release.

I felt pretty stable with my test shots going as a one-handed lefty.  While it isn’t the most natural of poses, it was about as stable as I felt like I could get shooting freehand.

Obviously, if you can use a tripod or a Gorillapod, you’ll be in much better shape than shooting one-handed.

Bonus Tips:

Use a camera strap for the safety of your camera and to make life easier when changing settings.

If you wear glasses, try to stick with contacts until your arm heals up.  It will help you to get the camera in tighter on your eye and increase the stability from that point of contact.

If you can’t go without glasses, take them off and use the diopter on the viewfinder to get a clear image while you’re shooting.

Your Turn:

Have you encountered this challenge before?  What other recommendations and tips do you have?

We would love to have your thoughts in the comments below.

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{ 3 comments }

1 Stve December 28, 2009 at 10:47 am

Had to give it a try what i came up with works best if you are shooting horizontally.
Thumb & forefinger on the Lens & middle finger on the shutter button, raise the left shoulder & press the camera firmly into your shoulder & against your brow.
If you are lucky there will be a wall or something to brace against or the top of a table or fence post to rest your left elbow on.
For long term problems google camera brace one handed or perhaps get a good camera phone.

2 Graeme December 28, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Good article ;) I’ve encountered this on a daily basis – I’ve got one hand, but I do still have my arm and have been shooting with an SLR or dSLR for a while. It took me a while to get used to it – but eventually I did. I do use my right hand, but when I am in situations that I can’t, I do use the methods above. I generally brace myself on something if I am shooting left-handed only.

Bonus points for using the term ‘gimped-up’ – check out my latest tattoo:

http://i.imgur.com/7gT5r.jpg

3 Ridzki January 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Another option is using a battery grip from Ownuser, which has 2 shutter release button on the battery grip each on the right and left hand, however this will only help in taking pictures in portrait, your approach in shooting landscape is the best way I can think of.

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