canon camera, video, youtube
Jul 23, 2018
Posted by: Daniel Walker

How to shoot better steady handheld video footage

We have all seen terribly shaky videos on Youtube. Videos that are so bad they are almost unwatchable. We regularly upload videos to our Wanderwalkers Youtube channel, we are not perfect but we strive to create smooth, easy to watch videos. We know as well as anyone how cringey it is to watch extremely shaky videos where the cameraman or woman can’t keep the camera steady. With this article, I really want to offer some tips on how to shoot better steady handheld video footage. These are the methods we use when we are filming. 

Owning a gimbal, or a professional shoulder rig, for your camera and/or phone would obviously help with stabilisation. But the downside to this sort of equipment is it can be very expensive. We don’t always need this gear, this stuff is used primarily by professional filmmakers. Here is how to shoot better steady handheld video footage.


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Shooting steady handheld video footage

1. Lean your camera against a stable surface


Leaning your camera against any stable surface will do wonders for your video footage. A stable surface could be anything. It could be a brick wall, a tree, a post, a fence or a friend’s arm or shoulder. Just make sure they stand very still. Whenever I find myself in a situation that offers the opportunity to record perfectly stable footage using a surface, I will use it. Using any means of getting a stable shot is much better than not using any surface at all.


2. Tuck your elbows together


Another useful trick is to tuck your arms into your body so your arms and elbows touch each other. Once they are touching each other lean them against your ribs/chest. When your arms are together and tucked into your stomach it adds more stabilisation. Your arms leaning against your stomach will act as a kind of anchor or body monopod. It may feel really awkward or uncomfortable, but it will help you in getting some nicer shots.

If you are a beginner vlogger or videographer then check out our list of the best equipment to get you started.


3. Joby Gorillapod


joby, gorillapod, camera


I mentioned earlier that buying a professional rig is really expensive and most of the time they are unnecessary. Not to mention they can be very bulky and draw a lot of attention to you. If you want something a lot cheaper, more portable and less confronting to on-lookers then the Joby Gorillapod is a good option. Obviously, this is a tripod and it should be used as a traditional tripod but because it has flexible legs it can be wrapped around a pole or a tree. But I often use mine as a shoulder rig too. With one leg perched over my left shoulder and the other two legs bent out in front to make downward-facing handles, I use it as a makeshift shoulder rig.


4. Be aware of your breath


This is more important than most people might realise. Breathing can cause the slightest of camera shake which might not be apparent until after you have uploaded it to your computer. Just pause for a second, as you’re reading this, and really concentrate on your breathing, you can feel your entire upper body move up and down as you breathe air in and out of your lungs. For this reason, you should really slow your breathing down to a steady beat. Alternatively, you can hold your breath for those few seconds while you get that shot.


5. Be aware of your stance


This might sound redundant, but there are certain stances which will increase the steadiness of your shots. I recommend this stance. Stand with your left foot in front of your right foot, as if you’re about to start a running race and keep your knees slightly bent. This stance creates great stabilisation because you have a solid foundation from your feet up. If you are standing straight on, or if your legs and feet are too close to each other, it can cause you to be unstable and more likely to wobble and rock.


How to shoot better steady handheld video footage


Thanks for reading our tips on how to shoot better steady handheld video footage. I hope these tricks help you in creating those smooth, steady shots. I would love to hear what methods you use for creating silky smooth shots, let us know in the comments below.




Daniel Walker - Author

Daniel Walker is an Australian landscape photographer, blogger, outdoor enthusiast and travel addict originally from western Sydney, now residing in Melbourne, Victoria.

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