Capturing Movement in Photography

movement blur
Example of movement blur

Taking pictures of movement can be a bit tricky because moving things can end up appearing blurry in the photograph.

So why does this happen? To answer this, you need to know how photos are taken (you can read about that in "What is a camera & what are photos?"). The short explanation is that when you press the button to take a picture, the shutter opens and closes allowing a bit of light to touch the sensor. That moment when the shutter opens and closes is frozen as an image by your camera. But, if the object has managed to move in that exact moment, then it will appear blurry in the photo even if the image was in focus and you held the camera steady.

So, the way to stop an image from appearing blurry is to tell the camera to open and close the shutter quickly. Unfortunately, not all cameras let you do this, which is why some cameras are much better at taking pictures of moving things than others.

  • If you have a toy camera, there is unfortunately nothing you can do about it.
  • If you have a compact camera, check and see if you have a "Sports Mode". This will set everything up for you automatically so that you can photograph movement. The pictures will not always come out exactly as you would have liked, but all you have to do is point and shoot. This makes it easy and fun, and it is the first step to understanding how movement works in photography.
  • movement blur
    No movement blur
    If you have a hybrid or DSLR camera, you might also have a Sports Mode but you can also set the values by hand. This means either using the Av Mode or the fully manual mode. Using these modes is more complicated, and to use the properly you need to know more about how the camera works. The advantage is that once you become skilled at using Av or manual mode, you can take better pictures than in Sports Mode. If you think you are ready to learn more about how to set up your camera to capture movement in photography, check out our article called Movement Photography in the advanced section.
  • Capturing movement is one of the hardest things in photography, and it is very difficult to do with cheaper cameras, so do not feel bad if your pictures do not always come out right.

    by Simon James Allanach, edited by Alan Frost
    For profiles, see Free Photography Resources