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Looking for something to catch a viewer’s eye in your portraits? Add motion to your photos.

Make Subjects Come Alive

There are some things we’ve heard countless times. Your eye gets drawn to the brightest part of an image. After that, your eye gets drawn to the sharpest part of an image. It’s all true. However, those aren’t the only elements that draw the mind to an image.

I spend a fair amount of time looking at the work of other portrait photographers on Flickr and 500px. Not just the good photos that I like, but also the photos that don’t really set my world on fire. After a while, I’m finding certain elements that combine to make a nice image.

Everything else being equal, I like images where people are doing something. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing. When I compare a static pose to an image with action or motion, there’s really no comparison. Movement wins because it makes the subject come alive.

People move. Portraits seem more realistic to me when the subjects are moving. It changes their expression. Instead of posing and acting like they belong in a scene, the act of motion helps them own the scene.

Add Motion To Your Photos

I shot the image above of Kelsey in a studio. Beautiful woman in beautiful clothes, but it just needed a little more. When I asked her to try spinning around, the dynamic changed. Her smile is genuine and natural. The motion gives her dress a lift that it wouldn’t have with a pose. To me, it’s a better image than anything we could pose.

How To Add Motion To Your Photos

Motion can be dramatic or subtle. Sometimes i’ll ask a model to jump, spin or yell at the camera. Instead of thinking about their pose, it lets them put their mind on something else.

They occasionally would pick up on things that they wanted to change, so we'd shoot again and come out with better shots.

Motion doesn’t have to be that energetic, though. One of my favorite images came out of a workshop with Scott Kelby using a drummer’s fan to put a little wind on the model’s hair.

Add Motion To Your Photos

Don’t be afraid of a blurry image. If the blur conveys a sense of motion, it still works.

Faces of Cuba

When you add motion to your photos, it gives the viewer a chance to see your subject in a dynamic way. Expression and movement are extremely personal. I can coach someone to move, but how they move will reflect their own individuality far better than a pose.

Give it a try.

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