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5 Tips for Freezing Motion in Photographs
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5 Tips for Freezing Motion in Photographs

Like many photographers, I invested in a camera when my son was born so I could capture every stage as he grew. Once he started crawling, I quickly discovered I needed to learn how to take photos of moving subjects.

Now my favorite pictures are the ones where he is running and jumping because it truly captures his adventurous personality.

I love how much movement she's able to capture. Must read if you want to photograph active children! Read - "5 Tips for Freezing Motion in Photographs"

Read more: Storytelling Through Light, Emotion and Composition

Similar to how a caricature highlights distinguishing characteristics and features of someone, capturing motion in photography can have a similar effect. It adds another element to a photograph and it can be very challenging at first. Like anything else, practice helps improve the product. It’s incredibly rewarding when you capture that perfect moment!

  • No.
    01
    Fast Shutter Speed

    I always try to shoot at 1/400 or higher to get a sharp photo even if my subject isn’t moving a lot. I don’t have a steady hand with some of my heavier lenses so a higher shutter speed helps to offset that.

    If I have a lot of light to work with I will push my shutter speed as high as I can go without underexposing my subject too much. If my subject is jumping or twirling my ideal shutter speed would be 1/1250 or higher.

    With a high shutter speed, I can focus and then take multiple images very quickly.

  • No.
    02
    Increase ISO

    Don’t be afraid to increase the ISO in order to achieve a higher shutter speed. When I shoot moving subjects indoors sometimes my ISO is as high as 2000. Then, I will decrease the amount of grain in Lightroom with the luminance slider. I personally do not mind a little grain in my action shots.

  • No.
    03
    Creating Motion

    Creating motion is easy when you’re taking photos of kids! Telling your subject to jump, run, or twirl allows them to have fun and keeps them engaged in the photo session. Count to three and then have your subject do the preferred action.

    This gives some structure to the playful session and allows you to be ready to hit the shutter. I take lots of shots very quickly. I will do this a few times to make sure I got THE shot.

    A fun tip to give your photos a little extra energy is to have the child jump and throw something in the air at the same time. This helps the child to stretch upwards which makes for cool photos.

    I also love to incorporate natural elements such as wind and water to portray energy and motion!

  • No.
    04
    Aperture

    It’s easier to get your entire moving subject in focus when using higher apertures. If I am outside with plenty of light I will start around f3.5.

    When I am indoors and need more light I will try to get my aperture closer to f2.8. Once you get really good at using high shutter speeds you can try using wider apertures to get that creamy bokeh while maintaining a sharp moving subject.

  • No.
    05
    Experiment

    The best thing about photography is that there is no right or wrong way to capture your subject. So much of photography is about interpretation. I never start and finish a session on the same settings.

    I will take a few pictures and then look at my view finder to determine if I like what I’m seeing. Then I will adjust accordingly. I’ll be the first to admit that not all of my “motion” images are in focus.

    However, I take lots of photos very quickly which maximizes the chances for that inspiring capture! For me, a picture that successfully conveys energy and emotion always trumps a technically perfect photo.

8 Comments
  • Brenda Trinidad
    March 9, 2017 at 11:57 PM

    I just learned lots of good stuff. Thank you for sharing. Im gonna play with my camera now. :)

  • Debbie
    April 5, 2017 at 12:12 PM

    You have captured some beautiful moments. Very inspiring post. Thank you.

  • Alli
    April 5, 2017 at 2:13 PM

    Thank you for all the tips! How are you loving focus on a moving subject? Do you Back Button Focus, manually focusing, continuous focus, or whatever kind of focus? When my little ones are moving I have the hardest time getting them in focus and not the wall they were just at a split second ago!

    • Alli
      April 5, 2017 at 2:14 PM

      *locking focus not loving😉

  • Tressa Maciag
    April 5, 2017 at 2:22 PM

    This was super helpful! Thank you so much!

  • Lorri
    April 5, 2017 at 5:06 PM

    What lens did you shoot with? Your pictures are beautiful. Was there any post editing done? Thanks for the information, it’s very helpful.

  • Tammy
    April 6, 2017 at 11:34 PM

    Your pictures are wonderfully inspiring. Thank you for the helpful and informative tips. Looking forward to putting your tips to good use.

  • Dee
    April 30, 2017 at 10:37 AM

    Thank you so much for the tips, most times I worry so much about getting well exposed pictures only to discover afterwards that some of the pictures where the subject moved are blurry, for example moving hands. Hoping to practice these tips to get a better result. Thank you so much.

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