Finding Your Voice: Day 7. Movement

Welcome to Day 7 in our series: “Finding Your Voice… 10 Days, 10 Concepts To Help You Find Your Photographic Voice.”


Today we get into an area that might seem a little more abstract to you, but I’ll give it my best shot at explaining how I see this one.

Here’s the fill-in:  My favorite type of movement is_____________.

My own background shapes the way I see in perhaps a different way than a typical photographer: I was a dancer, a figure skater and a rider/horse trainer. Each moved in different ways, but each shaped my feeling for timing, rhythm, composition and story in photography.

Types of movement

Here are some words we can use to describe various kinds of movement. For the sake of discussion, I’m keeping this list limited to ones more easily translatable into the visual:

  • sweeping
  • gliding
  • floating
  • jumping
  • unexpected
  • smooth
  • leaping
  • soaring
  • quiet
  • lazy
  • energetic
  • staccato
  • pushed/pulled
  • gentle
  • blurred
  • forward
  • and oh-so-many-more!

Ok great, you say… how in the heck does this play out? For me, it’s like this:

Movement in Action

grand, sweeping gesture or movement. It’s actually much like the line drawn on the ice by the your blade when you land a jump on clean ice in figure skating. Lake Tahoe, CA.

The Clean Sweep

Leaping, soaring. I literally thought those words when I took the shot. Even the timing for it was governed by movement: you count or feel the UP phase of a horse’s trot or canter to take a shot of the moment when all four feet are off the ground. Santa Cruz, CA.

Flying Leap

Gliding, blurred, forward, being still in the middle of a world that is spinning. I wanted those feelings of movement in this photo – and used a hand-held shooting technique that creates it. Paris, France.

Green Cab

So, those are three very different ways you can actually see the concept of “movement” as it might apply photographically to convey a feeling or a way you see the world. But this is by no means a definitive list!

When it comes to movement, you can be literal with it: by freezing or blurring it. There is also a grand gesture or movement in a sweeping panoramic landscape. You can see it in the bend of a flower in a breeze – or a wave breaking on the beach. You might find the motion trail of some movement you love repeated in a pattern out in nature. It’s amazing what you’ll find once you start looking at a particular quality. And movement is a fun thing to play with!

Using movement in some way within your photography can give it a dynamic quality you might miss otherwise. And hey – you’re dynamic, right? Why not use ALL your senses!

Google image searches

Here’s a little variety pack from a Google image search for “movement in photography“. You can click the image to go there. If you do… check out the other searches across the top of the page. So interesting!

Movement in Photography

How about animals and motion blur for yet another perspective? Pretty cool:

Animals Movement

Of course, I always default back to dance for the shapes and dynamics created in their movements:

Dancers' Movement

Lois Greenfield is an incredible photographer who has spent her life capturing dancers. She’s also got a book out called “Moving Still” that is amazing. I see wind in trees, the breeze rippling a stream the waves crashing on the shore, a sweeping landscape – and so much more in her work.

Lois Greenfield

All of this may seem a bit abstract or obscure to you (or not!). But as artists we interpret, we create, we connect the dots in different ways than others might, we express.

Use ALL of you!

The woman who ultimately became my first agent as an actress was Ann Brebner (a fierce force of nature – she later became a playwright). She said something to me I never forgot, which I think is as relevant today as an artist as it was then as an actor:

As an actor, all you have is YOU. Your physical being and your life of experiences and thoughts and feelings are what you have to create with. So if you’re going to be good at this… you have to get out there and live a big life.

All you have is you, baby! Your point of view, your loves, your preferences, the message you want to convey, the story you want to tell are all the raw materials.. the more of them you have access to, the more richly textured and meaningful your art will be… and your life!


Miss a day? No worries… they’re all right here:

Finding Your Voice, Part 1: My favorite way to feel.
Finding Your Voice, Part 2: My favorite time of day.
Finding Your Voice, Part 3: My favorite light.
Finding Your Voice, Part 4: My favorite texture.
Finding Your Voice, Part 5: My favorite element.
Finding Your Voice, Part 6: My favorite color.
Finding Your Voice, Part 7: My favorite movement.
Finding Your Voice, Part 8: My favorite shapes & patterns.
Finding Your Voice, Part 9: My favorite view.
Finding Your Voice, Part 10: My story.