INCORPORATING MOTION 101

I love love love incorporating motion into my shoots. It's one of my favorite things to play around with and it always ends up creating my favorite portraits.

I post a lot of these shots on my Instagram and because it's raining and it's the perfect day to blog, I decided to share a little bit about how it's done. How should you direct the model? What can you do to help motion be a more prominent part of the photo? Why are big movements flattering to the model and clothing, etc. 

We will get to all of this, but let's start with the most important thing – shoot in high speed continuous. This may seem a little underwhelming, but here's why. Your model is going to be moving around a lot. They are going to be swaying, stepping, jumping, leaping, sometimes falling, etc. A majority of these movements are going to look awkward, because having someone step around in a tiny circle is not a natural movement. Set your focus, and just shoot. Be ready to take a lot of photos and be ready to go through them one-by-one in order to find the absolute best of the best. 

Take a look at some outtakes:

I took 71 photos of Kourtland in this exact spot and ended up liking two enough to edit. And you know what? That's a win. Creating movement is not always natural, although if you (and your model) do it correctly, it will look absolutely effortless. Below are my two keeps. 

For that specific set, I had Kourtland takes steps back and forth in one small area, turning her body toward and away from the camera, and slightly swinging her arms while holding the bottom of the dress. One of the biggest things I've learned about directing models is to show them, not tell them (because I mean, come on, saying all that is a mouth full). 

This is so important I can't stress it enough. If you have a specific vision in mind, the best thing you can do is show your model – just saying "take small steps around and sway your arms and move the dress around" can and will be interpreted so many different ways; but showing them will allow them to really grasp the idea. I have seen my photography and relationship with my models improve immensely since switching to this hands on method. 


The next thing I look for when adding movement is the model's clothing and composition. This can make or break your vision. Let's look at a photo from a shoot I did last year. 

It's cute, but it's super boring. There is no energy and you aren't forced to focus on the model or the clothing. Now, take a look at a couple more recent shots. 

These shots are more interesting, the viewer's eye is caught, and they evoke a curiosity that the first example simply doesn't. A large part of this is the clothing. These models are wearing clothing that already invite movement – they are flowing, they are layered, and the composition is closer up and more personal. It creates a feeling of being there with her, as opposed to more of a bystander position. 

By styling in this way, your model's job is made easier. They basically have a prop to work with, to hold, to let blow in the wind, to let effortlessly fall off one shoulder; they aren't alone out there anymore. When shooting fashion, clothing is key. Showing off the fact that a dress or jacket or top or scarf will still look effortlessly beautiful while you fulfill all the needs of your crazy busy life is a huge selling point. Take that and run with it. 

A couple more thoughts before I wrap this up. Use the wind to your advantage (the wind is your best friend). Talk about your expectations with the model beforehand and encourage them to be free and unashamed with their movements. That may sound a little extreme, but I talk a lot when I shoot and I always explain that some of the movements will feel awkward. Show the model when you get a shot you like – it will help them feel more confident and better understand you're vision. Remember, you can see them and all of their movements; they can't. They're just up there winging it. So showing them can help them get a feel for the space they have (how close or far away you're shooting) and how their current movements are photographing. That being said, always ask before showing them. Some models don't like to see any photos until the very end or until they're edited. 

I'll end with a couple more of my favorite photos that showcase movement.

Okay one final thing if you got all the way to the bottom. Some of my favorite photos were taken during in between moments. If you're directing the model, start taking photos before they have officially "posed". You will find that those subtle movements of getting into place are some of the best. 


Have more questions or is there something I didn't cover? Comment below and let me know!