18 Action Photography Ideas to Get Inspired

When taking action photography, you might find it difficult to focus on your subject when it moves too quickly. You need to capture an image without making your subject blurry. To achieve this task, you can use a variety of action photography ideas and select the right angles to take stunning pics. Read on if you want to know how to configure the settings of your camera and select the most suitable ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.

action photoshoot ideas color correction before action photoshoot ideas color correction after

Want to Get Amazing Action Images?

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1. Freeze the Action

freeze the action example

When doing action photography, it’s hard to overestimate the importance of shutter speed. If it’s high, you will get clear photos without noticeable blur. You should always opt for a high shutter speed to capture a subject that is moving quickly.

Pro tip: To capture a fast movement, use sports mode or turn on Shutter Speed Priority. To take photos of a football game, you will need to use the 1/250-1/500 shutter speed. In case you want to capture pictures of an animal staying still, you can set the shutter speed to 1/125.

Then, your camera will automatically select the right ISO and aperture, which will allow you to take high-quality pictures.

2. Show Movement

show movement action photography example

There is no need to snap countless pics capturing your subject in the middle of a flight or jump. You can take great action pics by giving your photos a dynamic feel. In this example, you can see the turning wheels of the bicycle. Remember about the importance of negative space as it will help you show where your subject is going.

Pro tip: In some cases, it makes sense to add some blur to your action pics. To achieve this effect, you need to stabilize your camera using a tripod and shoot at a low shutter speed. If you are looking for the best tripod brand, pay attention to the Gitzo GT3542XLS and Manfrotto MT057C3-G 057, Berlebach B14111.

3. Choose Your Background Carefully

action photography with background example

After adjusting the camera’s settings and selecting a suitable angle, make sure to pay attention to your background as well. Avoid any distracting elements cluttering the background. Select a location with a solid-color background or take images in a location where the background complements your subject perfectly. When taking this photo, I opted for a simple green background that allows a viewer to focus on the flying bird.

Pro tip: When shooting in RAW, you risk running out of free space quickly, however, your images will have an additional depth. This format also makes it easier to edit your photos afterward and adjust WB.

4. Capture the Peak of the Action

capture the peak in action photography

When implementing such fast shutter speed ideas, think about the specific moment that you want to capture. For instance, you might need to take a photo of a dance, a jump, or another movement. The key thing is to capture the moment before the action takes place. Capture a photo of an athlete in the middle of a jump and try to show the direction of the movement. You can also ask athletes for some ideas. They will tell you which moments might look great in the frame.

Pro tip: Use continuous shooting mode for taking pictures. Thanks to it, you just need to press the shutter button when an athlete starts a movement and hold it until the movement is over. It will enable you to snap 3 or more successive pics. High-end cameras allow you to shoot more pictures using this mode.

5. Jumping People

jumping people action photography

When capturing jumping people, I use my DSLR camera in shutter priority mode. It enables me to quickly capture a great shot without adjusting other settings manually.

Pro tip: If you need to take photos of several people jumping, shoot in aperture priority mode and set the aperture to f/5.6. Before people start jumping, slightly press the shutter button when using the viewfinder. You will see a list of camera settings. Pay attention to the shutter speed. It should be 1/400th of a second or higher. If it’s lower, you may need to increase your ISO.

I prefer to increase ISO by 100 until the shutter speed becomes at least 1/400th of a second.

6. Camera Panning

camera panning action photography

Panning photography is a perfect option for those who need to capture moving subjects. You can use it to take pics of vehicles, athletes, or cyclists. While most people believe that it’s impossible to avoid blur when taking such photos, panning is a helpful technique that enables you to match the speed of the moving object. You just need to use an optical viewfinder to focus on your subject with better precision.

Pro tip: To snap great panning pics, use the shutter speed from 1/30s to 1/125s. You need to adjust it depending on the speed of the subject. The higher the speed of a vehicle, the higher the shutter speed should be. To achieve a stunning panning effect when shooting a racecar, set the shutter speed to 1/125s. If you want to take a photo of a running athlete, the 1/30s shutter speed will suffice.

7. Use Ballet Poses

ballet poses in action photography

Ballet photography allows you to capture a variety of poses during action photoshoots. You can take photos of a dancer assuming the first arabesque pose as well as doing a pirouette or split jumps. When implementing this action picture idea, you can also ask the model to bend or assume any other pose they like.

Pro tip: To bring some variety to your photoshoot, try taking ballet photos outdoors. The studio setting might seem too boring and uninspiring. Select a picturesque location for your shots, such as a field or a lovely garden full of beautiful flowers.

8. Fashion Composition

fashion composition in action photography

In case you specialize in fashion photography, you can still employ some action photography techniques. Make sure to take into account the rule of thirds to create a well-balanced composition in the frame.

fashion composition in action photography example

To apply it, divide your frame into 9 equal parts to create a grid. Your subject should be placed on the intersections for your composition to look perfect.

Modern cameras have a grid overlay that makes it easier for photographers to take a great shot. After turning it on, you just need to point your camera at your subject and check whether it is one of the intersecting lines.

9. Animals in Motion

animals in motion action photography

If you are interested in wildlife photography, you may try shooting animals in movement. In case you need to approach them without being noticed, make sure to put on a camouflage jacket or take a camouflage tent with you. Thanks to it, you will be able to hide your presence and take photos of wild animals in their natural habitat.

Pro tip: When taking action photos of animals, make sure to consider the shutter speed. It’s better to adjust it manually depending on the intensity of the movement. I usually take photos with a shutter speed of 1/500 or higher. When capturing quickly moving animals, it’s recommended to opt for a higher shutter speed. For instance, if you want to capture a photo of two fighting animals, use the shutter speed of 1/5000 to avoid blur.

As for aperture, it’s better to set it to f/2.8- f/5.6. When shooting outdoors on a sunny day, use low ISO, such as 100 or 200.

10. Try Interesting Angles

interesting angles in action photography

As there are many photos taken from birds eye view, it’s better to experiment with different angles to make your photos stand out. When taking photos from a lower angle, you might make your subject look larger than it is.

For instance, in this example, I took a photo from a worms eye view to capture an athlete performing a flip. You may explore the locations nearby and try taking pictures from different angles and then use this knowledge to take photos during any event.

Pro tip: It’s better to emphasize the detail that is the closest to the lens. If you take photos from above, you need to focus on the top of the head of your model. Make sure to use a wide angle lens as it will make it easier to focus properly and ensure that your image will be clear, without any sign of blur. You may use such lenses as the Nikon 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G, Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6, and Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8.

11. Visible Paint Powder

paint powder in action photography

To get creative shots, try using some powder. To implement such action photography ideas, you can buy white or colors powder. Make sure to purchase a lot of powder to ensure that you won’t run out of it during shooting. It will enable you to give your pics a more dramatic feel. When editing your images, you can make colors more saturated. Some photographers also mix different colors to create beautiful shades.

Paint powder will come in handy for those who want to capture their subject in movement. Your model can jump, dance, or clap their hands. I enjoy doing dance photography and taking photos of gymnasts using this technique as it allows me to capture unique shapes formed by powder in the air.

Pro tip: When taking pics in your studio and working with artificial sources of lighting, it’s better to adjust the camera settings manually. Once you have selected the most suitable configuration, there won’t be any need to change it for the rest of your photoshoot.

Some photographers prefer taking photos in burst mode. You just need to keep your finger pressed to the shutter button to take several pics in a row. It will allow you to capture a moving subject.

12. Adjust Your Food to Movement

food in action photography

When doing food photography, try experimenting with action techniques while snapping pics in continuous mode. Thanks to it, you will be able to take several eye-catching pictures quickly.

food in action photography example

If you need to cook something and simultaneously snap some pics, you can use a self-timer. It will give you plenty of time to select the most suitable pose. Using a remote control, you may take action photos. However, even without it, you can snap great pics provided you put in enough time and effort.

13. In a Second Before

in a second before action photography

To implement such an idea, you need to take photos of the events that are about to happen. For instance, in this photo, a photographer captured a boy who is going to hit a baseball ball. You can also capture photos during the baseball game or snap a pic of a dog catching a ball.

Some photographers also take dramatic shots to capture a moment before a catastrophe or any unpleasant event.

14. Shoot a Hair Flip

hair flip action photography

Ask your model to experiment with her hair. She may throw her head up or turn it downward. You can add a dynamic feel to your photos by adding wind. To achieve such a result, you need to use a large board, a reflector, or another flat object that can be used to create wind in the frame. Some photographers use hair dryers and electric fans.

hair flip action photography example

You can also try implementing the water hair flip idea. Ask the model to go into the water and flip her hair to create an arch from splashes and water drops. It’s better to make the background blurry to emphasize your subject.

15. Create Multi-Frame Action Sequences

To visualize the trajectory of the movement of your subject, you can merge several frames. To get such a result, you need to take rapid-fire photos and then stitch them to show the athlete at different points of the frame. It can be done in Photoshop, however, you will still need to take high-quality photos first.

multi-frame action sequences action photography example

Before implementing such motion photo ideas, try to imagine the best positions for your model. It’s better to take such photos from the side since it will make it easier for you to stitch them. Make sure that there is plenty of free space in the frame.

Pro tip: Before taking photos, you may need to pre-focus on a specific spot since your AF might be too slow. To do it, ask the subject to stand in this spot beforehand so that you could adjust your camera’s settings. You will need to adjust the focus manually and lock it.

16. Focus on Details

focus on details in action photography example

Try capturing details in your photos to give them a more eye-catching look. When doing action photography, you may capture not only full-body photos but also focus on parts of the body. Otherwise, your photos might look too basic and boring. Experiment with different poses and select the details that might be interesting for your audience. For instance, you can take pictures of your hands, shoes, or clothes.

17. Rock Climbing Photos

rock climbing in action photography example

Before starting climbing, explore the area and try to select the best shooting locations. Pay attention to unusual rock details that will look great in the frame. It’s better to do it on the day of the shot to ensure that the lighting will be the same. Besides, it’s important for a climber to wear clothes in bright colors that will stand out in the frame. Avoid colors that might blend with the background.

The best shots feature a full-sized figure of a climber with four limbs clearly visible. Don’t take photos of a climber resting as they might look boring. It’s better to capture a subject in movement. If you want to take a close-up photo, make sure to capture the gaze of the climber.

Pro tip: To take professional photos, use high-quality camera equipment and climbing gear. Besides, you may need to buy a durable chest harness and a bosun's chair. It will allow you to shoot photos for several hours straight without experiencing any discomfort. In addition, you will be able to lean outward to snap pics from an unusual angle.

18. Historic Moments

historic moments in action photography example

If you are looking for fresh action photography ideas for your photoshoot, try capturing some historic events. One of the best examples of such photos captured by photographers is a moment when Muhammad Ali was standing over Sonny Liston during the fight for the title of heavyweight champion. The event took place in Maine in 1965. You can try to recreate the success of the photographer and take photos of world-known boxers, singers, and other popular personalities. Your task is to capture a historic moment as it is.


freebies for lightroom

In case you see that your action photos require further enhancement, you can save time on post-processing by applying these handy presets. Using them, you can adjust the contrast to give your images a more dramatic feel and emphasize the details. These presets are suitable for enhancing color and black-and-white photos. As they come in .lrtemplate and .xmp formats, you can customize them to your liking. They are compatible with all the versions of Lightroom.