Movement by Joy Kubb

Movement by Joy Kubb

I must confess, I used to try to make the world stand still. I would wait patiently for children to settle and look straight into the camera. I considered the wind a pest for messing up perfectly placed hair and clothing. I thought that having this level of control was the key to creating great images. At the same time, when I looked at my work I continuously felt that it lacked depth, emotion and substance.

As an artist, I yearned to create images that captured the essence of the subject and grew frustrated that my images were falling flat. So, I began to study images that spoke to me and quickly realized that my work lacked movement. It suddenly made perfect sense to me that my images could not come to life without this important element. I began to look for ways to be more intentional about including movement in my images and have been hooked ever since. I am excited for this opportunity to share a few tips that I’ve learned along the way.

Engage Your Subject

When it comes to photographing children I love to take a step back and just let them be little! Children are natural explorers and giving them space evokes curiosity that inevitably leads to jumping, climbing, running, digging, dancing, twirling and more. I always encourage this exploration to take place against an interesting backdrop or in beautiful light, however, my overall role is to observe. This allows my presence to be less intrusive and for the energy of the image to be more authentic. I always make an effort to notice the more subtle movements taking place too (hair and clothing blowing, eye lashes fluttering, heads turning, etc.)

I have found that kids and adults alike are willing to engage in play when given the opportunity. I love to offer toys and games that I know will exaggerate movement and accentuate the light. Some of my favorites are streamers, bubbles, balls, kites, blankets, and bikes.

Technical Tip

When trying to freeze motion choosing the right shutter speed is extremely important. To capture a fast subject like a child in motion, I try to keep my shutter speed above 1/320. The direction and intensity of light will then determine how I adjust the ISO and aperture settings.

Embrace the Light

Have you ever noticed the way that light moves? It dances through the trees, bounces along the water and flows over fields. Incorporating interesting light and shadows into a photograph can convey motion even when the subject is standing still. I love to place the subject in back or side lighting and use a narrow aperture to allow the light to burst into the scene. The lines and patterns created using light leaks, bursts, and flares allow the viewer’s eyes to dance around the frame creating a sense of energy that is associated with motion

Technical tip

Nailing focus on a moving subject can be difficult, especially in tricky lighting. One of the best methods I’ve learned to deal with this is Back Button Focusing. This option allows you to remove the focus actuation from the shutter button and assign it to the AE-L/AE-F button instead. With the camera in Continuous Servo AF, I am better able to track the subject throughout the frame using the back button to nail focus before pressing the shutter to capture an image.

Examine Your Surroundings

The world is in constant motion. This means that we are surrounded by countless opportunities to capture movement. Pay attention to the way the clouds march across the sky, the trees sway in the breeze and water dances down a stream. Wide angle lenses have an amazing way of expanding the scene allowing you to capture the subject immersed in his/her environment. A wide angle will also create a bit of distortion that separates the foreground from the background. This creates a sense of being pulled into the scene which further amplifies the sense of motion. It is a very rare occasion for my 24mm to ever leave my camera!

Technical Tip

Using a slower shutter speed can add a subtle blur that emphasizes the movement taking place in the surrounding environment. To achieve this, I will often choose a shutter speed around 1/100. If I am looking for more of a pronounced blur, I will lower the shutter speed even more!

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