Stop Action with Panning – the Monday How-To

Stop action shots are not all about standing still and capturing a moment in time.  They are more of an amazing photographic dance with your body showing the moment and rhythm of your subject. (Yes I am a dork, but that’s how I best describe it ;) )

The key to getting these stop action shots are not always fast shutter speeds – its coordinating the movement of your subject with your body movement.   You want to match your body movement to the speed of the subject, sweeping along and turning as it moves towards you or by you.  This is technically called “panning”.
Here are some simple steps to building your “stop action skills”:
  • Determine your perspective (are you above, at eye level, or slightly below lying on the ground)
  • Lock into subject with your auto focus so that it automatically adjusts with the movement of the subject (every camera system is different – check your manual for auto focus options)
  • As they move to you or past you, your head movement follows them so they stay in frame
  • Shoot deliberately as they move – don’t just put it in burst mode and “spray and pray” – actually be conscious of what is in the frame.
  • KEEP following their movement as you shoot
  • At your last shot, keep moving with them – and get into this habit. You never know what will happen when they end their run.  I miss cool shots when I remove the camera from my eye because the subject is done moving.
Try these steps two ways – with a high shutter speed, and a low one.  Also position yourself in different ways in relation to the subject – different lenses will yield different results, so if what you see doesn’t make you happy, try moving slightly to the left or right of where your subject is coming from.  See what happens – and post any results you have on the StonehousePhoto Facebook page – I’d love to see them!

Contact ME! | Subscribe to Stonehouse Photography by Email


  1. Ann Stebbing says:

    Great photos, I just love seeing dogs in their environment enjoying themselves.

  2. Mary says:

    Thanks for this post. I love action shots and I have been such a shutter abuser. I am excited to up my game.

  3. Beverly says:

    thanks for the idea of panning…..

  4. beth says:

    Excellent work, Hannah – thanks for sharing the detailed panning info!

Leave a Comment