Movement Photography Ideas and Tips

Movement can be a significant compositional element in the creation of impactful photos. Capturing movement in different ways may deliver unique and creative artistic expressions, as well as generate emotion or interest. 

Take a look at the following movement photography ideas and tips to use when capturing your own images.

Use these tips in addition to basic photography techniques to take your own pictures that showcase movement.

12 tips and ideas photographing movement
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  • Camera: check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!
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Movement Photo Ideas and Tips

Take a look at these tips for capturing movement in photographs shared by members of our Facebook Group, Your Photography Journey.

Frozen Movement

The most basic approach to capturing movement in photography involves a focus on freezing or blurring motion. 

You can freeze motion by using a fast shutter speed to capture sharp images of movement in progress. This frozen movement displays a segment of life rarely experienced in its full expression. 

Marilyn Switzer movement photo idea

Marilyn Switzer captured the photo above that tells a story while capturing a frozen moment in time.

This amazing shot by Katee Ann Larsen is a great example of the power of frozen movement in an image.

Rodeo scene frozen moment

By filling the frame with the action, the viewer is immediately drawn into what’s happening and can visualize the movement before and after this moment in time.

Blurred Movement

We blur motion by using a slow shutter speed to produce images that may contain still and sharp elements mixed with moving, blurred elements.

This approach focuses on expressing the energy of movement. The blurred effect on moving elements of the composition illustrates to viewers the power of the photograph. 

Blurred motion waterfall

Roy Goldsberry uses this technique when photographing water. You can see the energy of the water cascading over the rocks by using blurred motion.

Blurred motion is also a powerful technique in creative expressions of movement, as illustrated by David Joyner.

blurred motion of a flying owl

Using a slower shutter speed while panning with a moving subject delivers an abstract focus on the theme.

Space

Space is an important part of movement photography. When photographing wildlife or pets, compose the photo so there’s space within the frame to accommodate the movement or gaze of the subject. 

Melanie Loughery has included space in her awesome composition to allow for the gaze and movement of the subject. 

movement photo of a bird splashing in water

Her photograph is also a great example of frozen motion. The stilled droplets of water contribute significant impact to the image.

David Joyner includes space in this photo for the eye to follow the direction and gaze of the bears.

two grizzly bear cubs running

This space enhances the power of the movement and allows room for the viewer to imagine the continuing path of the bears.

Energy

Denise Thomason shares an intriguing capture focusing on an elemental expression of energy. You can feel movement and heat in her photograph.

man blowing fire

The foreground, midground and background elements add to the scene as well. The fire blower is the foreground, the crowd is the midground and the foliage and sky are the background.

Alfredo Cruz delivers a beautiful expression of energy in movement in this photograph taken at the beach. 

waves crashing against the rocks at the beach

You can see the power and motion of the ocean waves, and can imagine them crashing against the rocks.

Tell A Story

Cheryl Rogers captured a moment in time of two birds interacting. The action and frenzy of the birds creates interest for the viewer as it tells a story.

three birds interacting in a tree

She used the Rule of Odds to include three birds in the photograph. Using an odd number of elements in an image causes our brains to seek order.  The viewer will look at the image longer and evaluate the elements more deeply.

Photos by Claire focuses on a part of the whole in this photo that tells a story. The focus on the symmetrical power of movement in the image captures our attention and holds our interest.

four airplanes flying with streams of smoke behind

The photograph showcases patterns and subtly provides space to accommodate the present and future movement of the subjects.

Emotion

 Emotion is power in photography. The most memorable images we encounter are those that provoke a stirring within us.

man and boy embrace at a rodeo

Katee Ann Larsen captured a scene at a rodeo where a man and boy are embracing. The viewer doesn’t know the circumstances or story, which creates interest that adds to the emotion felt when looking at the image.

Intensity

Jim Bigham has captured intensity personified in this incredible photograph. By filling the frame the intensity is increased more with an up-close view! 

rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike

Stilled yet impending motion. The sense of urgency in such an encounter is beautifully expressed.  “Run!”, we cry, “don’t wait for it!”

Panned Movement

Panning the camera with a moving subject can produce a photo where the subject is sharp and clear in frozen motion, and all the motionless elements surrounding the subject are blurred. 

go kart rider zooming by

Christian Whitley’s use of this technique focuses on the power and expression of movement itself. 

Light Trails

Understanding light is the concept around which all photography revolves. Using long exposure photography to emphasize the movement of light is a creative way to express the wonder and energy of motion. 

steel wool blurred motion photo

Richey Oliver uses steel wool photography to powerfully deliver this beautiful and artistic expression.

AMAZON Landscape Photography Books:

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Were you inspired by these photos?

Every week in our Facebook group (Your Photography Journey), we have a challenge that focuses on an element of composition. Understanding these simple elements will help you improve your photography skills!

→ DOWNLOAD our 52 Week Photography Challenge List!

We also do live video Photo Reviews each week to discuss compositional elements on the photos group members want us to review, similar to the video we included in this article.

Our group members find the reviews very helpful – see what they have to say! We’d love to have you join us!

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