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Digital SLR Photography Tips: How to shoot sharper pictures just by breathing!

 10th Nov 2009

breathe before photographingThere are two brilliant reasons for doing this - well ­ OK three. Firstly it does keep you alive, but the other two are much more interesting.

Digital cameras have the fantastically useful capacity to let you shoot lots of frames without you panicking about using up all your film. A sort of ‘try before you buy’.

But this can lead you into temptation - to just point and press at anything. If you stop to breathe first and take a moment to consider what's in your viewfinder you will dramatically cut the shots you chuck away.

Ask yourself the following ...

  • Is there too much sky?
  • Is the subject smack in the middle?
  • Can I improve this composition by moving a bit to one side or the other?

If you practise this enough you will find your ‘wastage’ ­ will fall off dramatically as the photo taking process becomes more instinctive.

The other reason for breathing first is it's yet another way to help keep your hand steady and your shots crisp and sharp. If you're shooting in low light conditions it’s much trickier to get a sharp image because of what's known as 'camera shake'. (if you want to know the ultimate way to get round this then you’ll just have to buy The Masterclass in Photography).

If you breathe out before you take the shot then squeeze the shutter, you won’t have the movement of your chest rising up and down to make your picture blurry. Yes I know there are occasions when you need to be quick, especially with sports, animals or children, but once you’re in the habit of breathing properly you’ll notice your body doing this automatically.

It sounds like such a little thing - but the tiniest movement can make a big difference. This is why marksmen (and women) exhale before firing.


  1. Just try it! As you bring the camera to your eye take a nice deep breath. Take another as you look around the view finder to make sure you’ve got the angle you want, composed with the rule of 3rds, in the light you want. As you come to the end of the exhale - squeeze the shutter.
  2. Practise your breathing whenever you go out photographing. The more you practise the quicker it’ll become instinct. And it’s always best to trust your instincts.