Expert Guide to Intentional Camera Movement Photography

Guide to intentional camera movement photography

There is no end to the list of ways you can use your camera to get creative. The Intentional camera movement is one such method to help you in getting some of the best shots. If you are completely unaware of it, keep in mind it is a technique where the camera is moved intentionally at the time of exposure.

This technique is used very much in the long-exposure mode in your camera. There are a lot of things you need to know about intentional camera movement if you want to get started and we are going to talk about them in detail. 

Example of intentional camera movement photography

An introduction to intentional camera movement

The main motive behind intentional camera movement in photography is to add an illusion of motion to the image. Creativity can be added to your image using this technique in many ways here. But the first thing is to lower the shutter speed of your camera.

Lowered shutter speed will help you increase the exposure time which is a perfect setting to get motion blur. 

It sounds quite ironic as a long exposure is used while keeping the camera still so that all the fine details can be captured. But here, the camera is moved with the same settings to get the shot we are talking about. Now you are familiar with the fundamentals involved here, it is time to take a look at other vital concepts. 

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Techniques used in this method

A few techniques are used here to let you capture such photos in many ways. Specific camera gear is not even a requirement here, you have to focus on certain details. The kit lens works fine in most cases here. Take a look at the other requirements:


Though you can work with any lens here, profound results can be created with a wide-angle lens when it comes to intentional camera movement photography. The effects of camera movement are intensely apparent in wide-angle lenses. 


A quality camera tripod is necessary equipment used here. In the majority of cases, the tripod is used to keep the camera steady but here it is used for an entirely different purpose.

The tripod helps you to control the movement of your camera. The intentional movement plays a vital role here but the motion needs to be in a well-defined direction in order to get the best results. 


Low shutter speeds are crucial to intentional movement photography but it can be a problem when you are shooting in bright daylight. In most cases like this, the use of good lens filters is highly recommended.

There is no need for a very strong filter and normal ones like the ND8 will work the best. Filters are great means to counter the shutter speed settings while you are shooting the photo. 

Artistic style of intentional camera movement

Types of intentional camera movements

Now we are going to discuss the most important part of this technique. There are several ways in which you can move the camera to get different effects.

Random camera movements can never give you outstanding results; instead specific movements will work the best here. Let us have a look at some popular ways you can do it. 

Linear/Straight line movement

It is one of the most common ways used in intentional camera movement photography. There are two ways you can do it i.e. using horizontal movement or a vertical movement. It is done with an exposure time of 1/20.

There can't be a well-defined style common enough to shoot photos with different subjects but here are a few tips in this regard. 

Avoid doing it at places with plane backgrounds

When you do it at such places, the photo will seem far below the average line. The place to do it is in the forests or other places where different tones are available. It will enable you to create vivid colours in the photograph. 

The exposure

As we have already told you to use long exposure. Keep the camera steady for a few moments. Once your exposure starts approaching its end, move the camera in a specified direction quickly. Then only you will be able to create a nice and amazing motion blur. 

The motion speed

Creating the desired intensity of motion blur requires the precise speed of the motion. If the movement of your camera is slow, a more intense motion blur will be created. You won't be able to get the perfect shot in one go. Take multiple shots with multiple combinations of tricks. 

Apart from all the tips mentioned above, you have to do it using the tripod. In order to move the camera precisely along the line, you must use a tripod. 


It is the most popular technique used in intentional camera movement photography. It helps photographers create some really nice photos. Unlike the technique mentioned above, here you follow a moving object throughout the exposure.

You have to move your camera as per the movement of the subject you have chosen. 

This technique requires you to use hands instead of a tripod because the motion of the subject is not well-defined in most cases. The ideal shutter speed in this case is 1/20th of a second or even less than that. 


This is another great way to do intentional camera movement photography. Zooming creates some really abstract photos. Zoom burst photography also requires a tripod for better results. Here is the right way to do it.

  • Choose the subject and make sure it is not large nor small enough for the frame. 
  • The location of the subject should allow mixed amounts of light from different sides. 
  • Zoom in up to the focal length from which you want to start. Now focus on the subject at this point. The shutter speed should be around 1/20th of a second.
  • Hit the shutter button as you start zooming in. When you are approaching the final focal length, slow down the zooming speed. It makes your subject sharper. 

Final thoughts

Intentional camera movement is a nice way to create outstanding photos. It is a technique worth trying but you need to select the right way of movement for different subjects and colour combinations.

Broadly speaking, this technique is not made for shooting subjects having uniform colour combinations.

About the Author

Emma Taylor is an Australian blogger and photographer, who lives in Melbourne with her two cats, where she frequents live theatre and wine bars.