Composition of a Moving Subject

​How to frame a moving subject

When faced with a moving subject, your thinking time is reduced greatly. Preparation is the key if you have time so you need to decide how you want to capture the subject. 

For a moving sports shot for example, I would try and make sure that the subject is on the left or right of the image or the top or bottom depending on which way they are moving. This would then give the appearance of “space” in the image for the subject to move into if that makes sense.

A centered subject can look quite dull as the viewer needs to feel that they are there with you when the shot was taken. Simple composition adjustments can make all the difference to how the image is perceived.

The extreme and arty opposite to this would be a blurry motion shot of say a marathon runner’s leg at the edge of the frame and nothing else. This also lets the viewer know what is happening even though they can just see one leg “leaving” the scene with nothing but road in the rest of the image.

You also need to decide whether you want the subject “frozen” by using a fast shutter speed or if you want to use a slower shutter speed in order to give the viewer an impression of movement. Or try both!

Again, if possible, try and find an angle that is complimentary to the subject.

E.g. If shooting high jumping Moto-X bikes at a show, shooting from above would kill the shot in most situations where getting as low as possible and shooting up would enhance the height and dramatise the scene so much more. Even moving a couple of feet up, down, left or right could make a huge difference.

Think of the light​!

Where is it best to stand to ensure that the light hitting your subject is most complimentary? You don’t want to take the most stunning, well thought out and well captured shot only to realise that you shot straight into the sun leaving the subject silhouetted (although that can be a nice effect if desired, especially if you ping in some fill flash).

If it is an organised event, work out where the main (or key) light will be during the action and position yourself accordingly.