Intentional Camera Movement Photography

March 8, 2011 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 24 Comments | |
Intentional Camera Movement Photography Image

Another reason is that long exposure times allow lots of light into the camera and we need to compensate for that somehow in order to avoid a totally overexposed image even at the lowest ISO.

When photographing in bright sunlight you might even have to use an ND filter to further reduce the amount of light entering the camera.

Now comes the fun part. Press the shutter and move the camera while pointing in the general direction of your subject.

For a smooth result, start the motion before opening the shutter and don't stop until it closes again.

Different movements yield different results, so try panning, rotating or moving the camera back and forth, or a combination of any of those.

Keep in mind that a subtle motion can have great effect, so no need for wild gesturing.

Intentional Camera Movement Photography

By moving the camera parallel to lines and edges that are already present in the subject you can emphasize those and make them part of the composition. This often gives the image a more "realistic" look, as if the image is of a real object instead of just abstract patterns yet the object doesn't look anything like the one you photographed.

Intentional Camera Movement Photography

One thing I, a recovering control freak, find very therapeutic about intentional camera movement photography is that it forces one to let go of total control over the end result because it's practically impossible to shoot the same image twice. This lends the whole exercise a certain excitement factor. Each time you press the shutter you capture a different slice of time and space that just magically emerges on the LCD display of your camera. It's so much fun that sometimes I find it hard to stop photographing because I'm curious what the next shot is going to look like.

So give intentional camera movement photography a try. Maybe it'll get your creative juices flowing enough to - pardon the pun - move your photography in a new direction.

Intentional Camera Movement Photography


Armand Dijcks is a photographer and filmmaker continuously exploring the possibilities of visual media. He lives in in Rotterdam, The Netherlands with his wife and two mischievous cats.

Entry Tags

photos, camera, photo, photography, technique, motion, light, movement, exposure, move, Intentional Camera Movement Photography

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24 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 Akos

I really like this idea of this “art” of moving pictures. The lights and the colors are brilliant.

P.S. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

4:45 pm - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

#2 Armand Dijcks

@Akos - Thanks, glad you liked it!

4:57 pm - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

#3 John Macpherson

This is the kind of thing that you can create in photoshop but its pretty hard actually. I was at it a few hours and didn’t get anything i was satisfied with. What i found was basically its best with starting off with something like you have done above and then using photoshop. Still not totally happy with using post but on some things its impossible to get it right, certainly what you have above, thats for sure. Mix of creative photography and PS imo. Thanks for the post.

8:01 pm - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

#4 1 Snap Music!

I do a lot of Intentional Camera Movement Photography and really love it. However, I do it in the context of the underground dance club scene, and I do quite a bit of post-processing to blow the colours out or change them completely.

Please check out my photoblog for some examples of my work! :)

5:06 am - Wednesday, March 9, 2011

#5 zorstklamp

Great concept, can’t wait to give it a go and all in the comfort of my home !

7:22 pm - Wednesday, March 9, 2011

#6 rob

I’ve been using this technique for some 30 years and I use the results mainly as backgrounds for composites. The creative possibilities are endless.

I prefer those photos to Photoshop effects, because original photos look so much better and more natural than any Photoshop production (don’t get me wrong, I use Photoshop every day - just not for these kinds of photos)...

12:49 am - Thursday, March 10, 2011

#7 Armand Dijcks

Thanks for your comments everyone! @Rob/John - personally I hardly do any post processing in these images, this is pretty much how they come out of the camera. Actually, I don’t even own a copy of Photoshop.

1:56 pm - Thursday, March 10, 2011

#8 Photography Workshops

Beautiful work - we really like the painterly quality of the images and can visualise them printed on a soft rag paper.

10:52 pm - Friday, April 15, 2011

#9 Armand Dijcks

@Photography Workshops - Thanks, I actually offer them printed on metallic paper and on aluminum, which makes the colors really deep and rich. Maybe it’s worth experimenting with other types of paper as well…

10:05 am - Saturday, April 16, 2011

#10 Kento

Nice post.

It would have been kind of fun to know what we were (sort of) seeing in the photos, though.

I’ll make a few wild guesses: The second one was window blinds. The second to last (the green one) was possibly a tulip and leaves. The last one was possibly the floor and wall.

And the first one was a red fox with dandruff running through a snow storm. Well, okay, I actually have no idea, but it was fun making guesses.  :-)

5:13 pm - Sunday, April 17, 2011

#11 Armand Dijcks

@Kento - LOL :-) Not even close! You can actually find the answers at the bottom of this page:

6:55 pm - Sunday, April 17, 2011

#12 Nadja Utrecht

Nice post, nice pictures.

@Rob: I love your suggestion to use this for backgrounds, as an alternative for photoshop effects. Much more artistic / authentic, thanks!

8:27 pm - Friday, April 29, 2011

#13 Aberdeen Photographers

Great ideas, this technique works really well with landscapes

11:10 am - Sunday, May 8, 2011

#14 olurprod

Great post!!, I have been practising my self in new designs on ICM. Let see if you like it.


4:00 pm - Tuesday, August 2, 2011

#15 tubten

There are many variations in Flickr photo, landscape, portrait .......

11:59 pm - Sunday, October 9, 2011

#16 JP Pullos

I’m an online photography teacher and one question I get asked, quite a lot, is “Why would I ever use a slow shutter speed?” I have a few examples in my arsenal to show students but the images in this article are really superb. Awesome article and beautiful images!! Thank you!

9:38 pm - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#17 JP Pullos

I’m posting this on my Facebook page!

9:41 pm - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#18 Achal Bichpuria

Sir….I really liked ur technique. Till now I was doing this just for my fun…but you gave me a name to this. thanks 2 u:-)
I use this for making alphabetical letters and for making some photos more interesting…in the near future I would send u some pics…And I want ur reviews and I also want to become a good photographer.

5:31 pm - Sunday, October 30, 2011

#19 Scott

These images are great! I’m going to start swinging my camera around now.

12:29 pm - Monday, January 2, 2012

#20 Kelly

Thank you for posting this, I’m going to include the article in my Photography coursework (:
The project is for ‘coloured light’ so as you can imagine, this source is perfect :D

Thanks again!

3:12 pm - Friday, January 6, 2012

#21 Katia Mandelli Ghidini

Hi there, I was surfing the Internet and jumped across your site. Fantastic. May I suggest that you have a look at my site? This is my personal project or collection. I am sorry that site for the moment is only in Italian. I will soon get the international (English) version.
But I really wanted to share it with you and send my compliments for your article.
Hope to hearing from you!
Regards from south of Switzerland, old Europe!

5:32 pm - Sunday, May 13, 2012

#22 Javier

Nice text, very interesting!
One of mine:

5:52 pm - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

#23 Quintin Lake

I did i series of Christmas Light Abstractions in London mucking around and moving the camera. A friend told me this mucking about was called ICM, and indeed it is!

11:42 am - Saturday, December 22, 2012

#24 Clipping Path

Great designing post.Thanks for sharing it.

3:56 pm - Friday, November 6, 2015