Panning and Other Tips for Adding Motion to Your Street Photography

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One of the things I teach people on my photography workshops and tours is how to do panning. It’s a great technique to add to your skillset for shooting great street photography. Panning helps to isolate a moving subject and freeze it while at the same time blurring a potentially boring or ugly background.

panning street photography

I happened upon this bike race in Trinidad, Cuba. The street was full of people and the scene was very busy. So I chose to pan the riders as they went past to add a sense of motion and speed.

See the difference in this shot where I did not pan and everything is sharp. Notice how busy the scene is and the bikers are almost lost. Doesn’t it look like they are going a lot slower or frozen in place here as compared to the image above? 

Tips for doing panning

Here is a video from Gavin Hoey and Adorama TV where he demonstrates how to do panning. He also walks through the camera settings to use to get started and how to adjust them as needed. Have a watch.

Street photography with slow shutter speeds

Here is a different approach to adding motion blur to your street photography, by photographer Doug McKinlay. In this video, he talks about the need for a neutral density filter if there is too much light, and using a tripod to blur moving subjects or part of your scene using long exposures.

Panning demonstration

Finally, here’s one more video that has a really good demonstration of how to execute panning, and what not to do as well.

I hope that gives you some ideas and starting points for adding panning and motion to your street photography.

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Darlene Hildebrandt is the Managing Editor of dPS. She is also an educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their skills through articles, online photography classes, and travel tours to exotic places like Morocco and India. To help you at whatever level you're at she has two email mini-courses. Sign up for her free beginner OR portrait photography email mini-course here. Or get both, no charge!

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