In triumphant karate movies where the brash young main character learns to fight and the value of his own self worth at the same time, the teachers always start with the most rudimentary basics they almost seem insulting. If you’re trying to become a better photographer, you could take a page out of that book before you look to upgrading digital SLR cameras or swapping camera lens filters. Yes, the crane kick is an important technique, but first you must learn to stand up, or in this case, how to hold a camera correctly.

It’s a small thing, but there are very few right ways, and infinite wrong ways. The latter will get in your way, make you slower to react with your camera, make crisp images more difficult to obtain, and may even make holding your camera more tiring.

1. Right Hand

Almost all cameras are “right-handed,” so put your right hand on the grip on the right side of the camera. Digital SLR cameras have nicely contoured ergonomic grips that fit in the pads of your fingers, fill your palm, and get your thumb and index finger in the right spot to reach buttons, dials, and most importantly, the shutter button. Point and shoot cameras may not have the heft and shape to fill your palm, but most of them feature a space clearly reserved for the right thumb and a small lip in the front of the camera to guide your support fingers.

2. Left Hand

You left hand supports the rig. With a digital SLR, start with your left hand open, palm up and the pinky-side of your hand close to your body. Your thumb, palm, and index finger make a firm, strong cradle to stabilize and grip your camera. Sit the lens in that cradle so your fingers can easily manipulate the zoom ring and so the weight and heft of the camera sit squarely and securely in your palm. With a point and shoot, you make the same cradle, but you may want to use point your index and middle finger to grip the side of the camera. This puts the body back into your hand so your palm offers the same stabilization as with a larger camera. Instead of squeezing your camera body between two fingers, let it rest in your hand so your more relaxed fingers can stabilize.

With these basics, you won’t introduce camera shake with your hands. Follow them and you won’t be actively making your photos worse by holding your camera wrong.

3. Arms

Life is shaky. Sometimes it’s dark, requiring a slow shutter speed. You will inevitably come up against situations when you need to hold your camera especially still. The first step is positioning your arms close to your body. This goes for digital SLR cameras and point and shoot cameras. Never again commit the sin of holding your camera out at arm’s length in front of your body. Both elbows should be touching your torso. With a viewfinder, place it gently against your face and focus on keeping your arms supported against your body. With an LCD screen, you have to hold the camera a little further from your body, but minimize that distance so your left forearm isn’t floating out in front of you.

The art of holding digital SLR cameras correctly is simple to comprehend, but requires time and practice to master. Move slowly and consciously as you develop the muscle memory necessary to the steadiest camera grip necessary to regularly capture clear, crisp, blur-free photos.