Camera Operator Guidelines – Handheld

Below are some general guidelines for Handheld Camera Operators when shooting EFP (live multi-camera) events such as concerts, sports, or keynote presentations:


  • Get In There – When you’re running handheld during music, you have every excuse to be ADD and move around. Let out some energy; get some exercise.  Get low; get high (not that kind of high). Get in there and get the shot! Just try to do it without being a distraction. If you’re shooting on stage, it’s ok to get close to people as long as you’re staying out of the frontline spotlights. Watch your return to make sure you’re not in someone else’s shot.  If you are, discretely find a way out.

  • Steady Yourself – You can stabilize your camera by keeping your arms and elbows close to your body and bracing your elbows against your torso.  Breathe shallow.  Don’t hold your breath.  If necessary, stand against a sturdy object like a wall, or lean on a sturdy stage prop while you’re getting a shot.

  • Use Both Eyes – A valuable skill is the ability to use one eye to look through the viewfinder, and the other eye to watch your surroundings. It takes a while to get used to, but it means that you can walk around while shooting without tripping, as well as keeping an eye out for where the action is happening outside your viewfinder. It’s also easier on your eyes during long shots, and your face won’t get tired from squinting.

  • Doing What it Takes to Get the Shot – Unless you’re shooting paparazzi-style, learn to judge when it’s worth making a nuisance of yourself to get the shot, and when it’s not. If it’s an important shot, it might be necessary to inconvenience a few people to get it right. But if you’re going to make enemies over something that’s not critical, forget it and move on.