It's difficult not to be self-conscious when it comes to DSLR photography. Walking around public spaces carrying a big camera and lens draws more attention than just taking out a smartphone and tapping a touchscreen. It always feels like people walking by can't help but try to see what you're taking a photo of, and maybe what gear you're using. But while I don't mind any attention from passersby when taking photos in public, there's one audience that I do get self-conscious about, and that's other photographers. That's because I do the very same thing when I see photographers in public. Some things just jump out at me: what lens the photographer is using, how they're positioning themselves with the given lighting, and most recently, how they're physically holding their cameras.
The ergonomics of holding a camera will differ between camera models and what accessories you use, but there is good reason to seriously think about them when you're using a DSLR. DSLRs are not only heavier than point and shoots and compact mirrorless cameras, they're physically larger as well. Good prime and zoom lenses add to that bulk, complicating the overall weight distribution of the camera when hand held. And while the standard DSLR body design is suited for a two-handed grip in the landscape orientation, turning the camera on its side for portrait photography is awkward, to say the least. Do you rotate the body so the shutter is on the top of the camera, or on the bottom? To be honest, I first started getting self-conscious about the way I was holding my camera when one of you guys pointed out that I was holding it "wrong" in the portrait position.
So I've done a little bit of thinking about how I hold my own cameras, and after reading up on some other photographers' recommendations, have come up with some best practices that I've etched in my brain--another subconscious checklist to run down every time I put a camera up to my eye.
The first thing I thought about was the goal of good camera gripping ergonomics. What's the point of holding a camera in one way over another? You can choose your camera grip for different priorities: physical comfort, ease of access to settings, finer control over the lens rings. My top priority is reducing camera shake. I wanted to get a grip on my camera that would give me the most stable shot at the slowest shutter speed possible, eliminating as best I could the unavoidable judder effects of pushing down on the shutter button.
In some ways, that means thinking of your body as a tripod for the camera, which means having a firm and balance stance on the ground. I typically put one foot forward when shooting, planting my feet firmly on the ground and leaning my upper body slightly and slowly forward or back to adjust for minimum focus distance.