Photo Assignment #7 :: Motion in Photography


okay it is Monday which means Photo Assignments and in this video I want to talk about Photo Assignment #7 which is going to be incorporating motion into photography now photography is a still medium unless you’re dealing with video I’m talking about still images though in fact most of the history of art if you go all the way back to cave drawing up through paintings and sculpture and photography most art deals with the still image nothing moves now the exceptions of this would be advancements in filmmaking and video work and then even incorporating electronics into sculptures but largely on the whole we’re dealing with our intents and purposes here with photography and still photography it’s something that does not move it represents a point in time that this can get conceptual and maybe that point in time gets abstracted a little bit but that has to be implied within the composition and that’s what brings me to talking about motion in composition this is something that has been requested a few times and I want to talk about different ways that photographers through the history of photography have interpreted motion in still photography and one of the most obvious examples of this is to use a slow shutter speed when you shoot now I’ve seen people do this with pinhole cameras that are handheld and everything blurs out it really becomes abstracted but it does create a sense of motion and drama and energy within the image you could also take this a step further you put your camera on a tripod and anything that’s not moving during that slow shutter speed will stay in focus and then objects that are moving create a motion blur this is most evident in a lot of famous photographs particularly one of my favorite photographers the work of Ernst Haas was one of the great colorist of our time but also used motion as part of his composition in these beautiful pictures that he did of horses there’s wonderful bullfighter and that was kind of one of his things that he did was using that slower shutter speed to start bringing that energy into the picture now a slow shutter speed is not the only way to do this that’s more of a technical representation of motion but this can also be done with faster shutter speeds as well ironically with fairly early photographers and I think a great example of this would be Jaques Henri Lartigue who i have talked about extensively as well and Jaques Henri Lartigue – one of the hallmarks to his style was bringing the unexpected that moment of energy into the image there was action involved they cross the line between being fine art images and snapshots in that sense and so the way he Illustrated motion was through gesture now he was very involved with sports and activities like that and so a lot of times you see the gesture of skaters involved one of my favorite pictures is this one which is just the back of a person looking out over a pier and you see the water splashing up now the water is not really blurry you can see the droplets but what’s interesting is if you’ve ever stood there and seen water splash you know that it goes down so it is implied a moment of time with something that is caught in motion and it’s a very different approach to just slowing down the shutter speed and there are other photographers that have done similar things like Martin Munkácsi instance who I think was really fabulous at this the motion is implied by the gesture or the action or the activity that’s going on and one of my favorite images is this sports image that blows my mind that Martin Munkácsi took this using a handheld large format camera so I mean he was really an incredible photographer especially early on another photographer who was influenced greatly by both Lartigue and Munkácsi was Richard Avedon and he has interesting ways of illustrating motion in his work too sometimes it is with a motion blur but other times that gesture and I’m keep coming back to the gesture because I think that is probably one of the single most important things that can imply motion and even the great Henri Cartier-Bresson implied it this way as well in the famous picture of the bicycle the bicycle is blurring but it’s not over accentuated we see this as a leading line that’s coming through a pretty complex composition in terms of geometry but that motion is implied simply because we understand a bicycle and the motion that’s involved the motion blur that is here is certainly adding to that but it is not dependent on that motion blur to create the action in that sequence also interesting are photographers who have approached motion from a scientific perspective and a couple of these we talked about recently Eadweard Muybridge who did photo sequences studying movement in motion of both humans and animals would do multiple exposures he had ways of tripping the camera to taking multiple pictures to study so he was introducing that notion of time and of course this led to later filmmaking and the whole idea of using multiple exposures that would be played back in sequence but his were still images and they were studies of this another photographer that I greatly admire was the work of Etienne Jules Marey who was a French scientist and photographer who would rig up these custom cameras and strobe lights to study motion in birds did some beautiful images and some beautiful work with that another photographer who did a lot of work for Life magazine using these motion studies but using more advancing technology was an albanian born photographer Gjon Mili who did something very similar to what Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey had built on and took it a step further using multiple exposures multiple strobe lights and some of the advances of technology didn’t come along during his time he also worked closely with a scientist by the name of Harold Edgerton who shot some very famous iconic images using strobes and actually stopping motion at a point in time the most famous being the bullet going through the Apple there’s droplets and there’s some others as well but these were from much more scientific perspective and I think it’s interesting to study these because these are very different ways and different techniques that you can use to imply motion within an image we can use the actual motion blur which certainly shows that something is moving that’s a tricky thing because at what point does it abstract beyond what we can recognize what is moving maybe that’s the intent that we have I don’t know the other interesting way of looking at that is how can you stop motion and still imply motion not using slower shutter speeds so in the case of a lot of these people it’s through gesture it’s through action it’s through actually using strobe lights and multiple exposures but I also want to challenge this notion – and gesture is an important aspect of photography in fact I think it would be cool to do an entire photo assignment just on gesture because it can… one image can be interpreted two different ways completely and I’ll give you a case in point this is a famous image actually there’s two of them here they’re from the same photo shoot this is obviously Gordon Parks and he worked closely with an author by the name of Ralph Ellison who had a somewhat controversial novel called the Invisible Man and there was a series that was done there were actually two different ones that they had done where they had done a shorter version of this that Gordon Parks would do photo illustrations for and the Invisible Man deals with this guy who lives under the city and comes up and is able to observe and it certainly deals with segregation that was happening at the time and some other very serious issues but this is a very famous photo that was set up of the Invisible Man emerging from the manhole now on the contact sheet there there there actually many different pictures of this and these two have become very famous and in the one you just see his head peeking up from the street looking up in the second you see the gesture if he actually is lifting the manhole and looking over his shoulder and it’s a much more composed poetic kind of thing where as the first one seems more off-the-cuff more improvisational they have two completely different feels to them for me personally the second one where you see more gesture involved at the manhole coming up the way his eyes are leading off of the composition it implies more energy and more motion than the other one does now neither one is right or wrong but I’m just showing you that a simple change of gesture can drastically change the composition in Gordon Parks’ case these are both wonderful compositions and these prints are both very famous and one’s not better than the other but I’m just showing you the difference of just being able to use a simple gesture to imply motion finally I want to talk about an example of a contemporary photographer who does this any more conceptual manner one of my favorite photographers alive today is is Hiroshi Sugimoto who is a Japanese born photographer spends half his year in Japan half his year in New York and he is amazing he works in these large projects and they involve an in-depth exploration of the subject at hand one of the more interesting ones that he’s done this is a few years old now but it was a series on theatres where he would actually go in and shoot movie theaters now the concept behind this was introducing the whole element of time into the photographs so what these were done is he would go into the theater with the lights out and the photograph the exposure lasted the duration of the film so over the course of an hour and a half two hours whatever the film was that ends up being completely white on the screen but then the ambient light in the room is lit from the movie that’s being played and of course this is a very conceptual approach to this and certainly doesn’t show you any motion directly in the picture because anything that has moved in here really has either gone completely to white or had effect on the overall ambient lighting in the room but it’s hard to detect literally but what we have seen in here is the introduction of time now this is a much more conceptual and heady approach and much more difficult to get into but I think it’s interesting to show that maybe it’s not motion directly but it’s an implied motion that was there you’re seeing evidence of that and so I just think the Sugimoto is brilliant and maybe you’re agree maybe you don’t because this isn’t literal interpretation of motion but I think it is definitely something that takes it to the next level in terms of concept so anyway this is the assignment and I’m going to actually do this one along with you guys I’m going to figure out something that I want to do with motion and that will be coming up we’ll be filming that in the next week and we’ll have two weeks to do this and so I want you to start thinking about it now and then we’ll actually get into a little more when I give you an example people have requested that I do that I did for the last one I will do it on this one as well and anyway I’m really excited about this if you guys have any questions or comments please leave them below and if you enjoyed this video please remember to like it share it subscribe to the Art of Photography for more videos and I will see you guys in the next one until then later

68 Replies to “Photo Assignment #7 :: Motion in Photography”

  1. Are you going to do an episode about the big solar eclipse that's coming up in August? I want to take pics but I'm assuming you'll need something to keep from burning out the sensor.

  2. Oh yeah, finally I have some time to attend. And i have some ideas already. I haven't been commenting a lot here but I love the channel and the work you do. I get so happy every time I watch these episodes and inspired to shoot more. Thanks Ted!

  3. was a bit surprised to not have the moon/sky as the assignment. But Motion is a great choice as well, looking forward to participate!

  4. I haven't watched the video yet as I am saving it as a "reward" for a bit later. But I am so pumped to see this title because this is exactly what I've been focusing on over the last months. And a lot of my recent interest in this comes from your videos, such as the one on Titarenko. Very very excited for this assignment.

  5. hi ted thanks for the video, i love to use motion in my photography can u help me how to start with that? do u have any tips for me? im a fine art photographer

  6. I have been following your videos for the last year or so and have been blown away by the quality of the concepts you present and the simplicity with which you do that.
    Regarding motion, I would love to have your views on panning, i feel it makes for pretty interesting images, with the subject in motion being frozen and the stationary elements conveying the sense of movement. Would love to have your views on the same.
    Please keep bringing out your amazing videos.

  7. Great video. One of your best ones this year. Mixing a concept , motion, and history of photography and also the interactivity of an assignment makes the video really valuable.

  8. You could also give us some tips on video editing. You have become pretty good at it. And thank you for synthetizing all those concepts for us!

  9. Cannot believe your doing another episode on Sugimoto. I just started a video on his work and I just rewatched your older video on his work. Then this. Love what you do, love what Sugimoto does.

  10. My teacher of Theory of the Image showed us Ernst Haas work 1 month ago and, besides, the cover of this video is an image taken in my city during San Fermines party/celebration, in Pamplona, which is located in the top of Spain in Navarre. Such a coincidence, hahaha. By the way love the content do you make on youtube, i learn a lot, thank you!

  11. Motion is a fascinating aspect of stills. A great exponent of motion, not in photography but painting, was Francis Bacon. I know he was totally fascinated with the photographs by Muybridge.

  12. I enjoy you channel in general, Ted, but especially enjoy how you show historical images by a wide range of photographers when you're discussing a context. Lots of food for thought for new photographers, and a great review for those who may have seen these images in the past and forgotten them. Thank you!

  13. I love these videos on the historical aspects of photography. Your Vlogs where you are driving around in your Jeep are OK for fillers but these edu videos is where you shine🙂

  14. Cool, another assignment. Thank you for your explanations and for making the video, I had fun watching it and it was quite inspiring to be honest. I can't wait to try a few things out.

  15. This will be my first Photo Assignment, I am still a bit foggy on how I go about submitting it to you. I am really exciteed to do one, though! I love the feeling of being able to challenge myself and learn from myself!

  16. I am also curious if we can submit more than one photo for this assignment, as well Ted can we submit older photos we have shot that show motion? I have taken some amazing photos in the past that show motion and would love to submit them as well, if possible??

  17. This was an amazing episode! 🙂 So many poetry in the images that you showed. This was very inspiring Ted. You motivated me me to try some things this week. 🙂

  18. Lovely assignment Ted, I'm hoping to hear your input on my submissions made on The Art of Photography Facebook page for this assignment. Cheers!

  19. Hi cool photo assignment. But I can't find how to upload my photos, how can I do it? And also thanks Ted you have created a complete new of teaching a lot about photography, thanks for that.

  20. Can you make a video about what is in your camera bag for street photography… also maybe a video about quality cheap cameras… Thanks =)

  21. Ted, I love your videos here. Awesome content! I was wondering, do you have a list of YOUR favourite photographers? Maybe a blog entry with links together with what you enjoy about their work?

  22. You're awesome! It means a lot to me that you'll also participate in these photo-challenges. It takes balls and though not many teachers do this, it gives such a great confident boost to my learning experience. I can't thank you enough, respect and love! 🙂 <3

  23. Long exposures has always been my favourite!! That's why when you introduced me the works of Alexey, I fell in love 😍. But maybe since I always do long exposures, I should try fast shutter speed when submitting something for this photo assignment #7… or both 🤔

  24. You are gonna make my wife's day when I show her that you featured an 🇦🇱 Albanian photographer.

  25. You are gonna make my wife's day when I show her that you featured an 🇦🇱 Albanian photographer.

  26. Can't tell when the photo in motion due? And love your voice, clarity, and comfort you give to indulge in our passions; even when we are not professionals. And love the name too, The Art of Photography. Most respectfully, leslie. Tabony

  27. Hey Ted, would it be asked too much of you to reactivate your Flickr group for photo assignments? I'm neither on Facebook nor on Instagram, and Flickr is not as dead yet as it may seem … so I'd prefer to participate via Flickr. Would be great if that was possible!

  28. Hmm. Too late for this one, and I have two great candidates. This is such a good topic that I'm near certain you'll run it again. And then! Watching this video was a joy. Tying the assignment to a historical process is marvelous. I'm eager to participate. Thank you.

  29. Ted, I have been shooting photos my whole life, but I have to honestly say, you are an excellent teacher, that inspires me to explore new modes of photography. Thank you!

  30. Hey Ted (and everyone else). This question has probably already been asked, but why can we not also submit on Flickr, for example via a dedicated Flickr group?

  31. by using high shutter speed to freeze the motion of an object will give the sense of motion if the object is frozen in a image which indicates an impossible position to be perceived as balanced according to laws of physics.

    example:

    1- speeding car being shot with high shutter speed freezes the motion of a car. and it's frozen state in image can be perceived as a balance state according to newton's law of motion. because a car already can stand still on a street normally. so the result is no different than taking the shot of a non-moving car.

    2- splashing water being shot with high shutter speed also freezes the motion. but the frozen state in image cannot be perceived as a balance state. because the gravity (meaning laws of physics) wont allow those droplets of water to be in suspended in air completely still. so the person who looks at the image perceives it as a transitional state.

  32. Thank you so much for these Assignments!! You have a great way to help me take a step back and critique my photography by learning about another professionals work…One quick question; In 50 or 150 years who are "they" going to say are the Photographers who led the 21st century? Today it seems like everyone calls themselves a photographer and to be honest I've seen some pretty amazing photos come off a cell phone…I feel like our game and playing field has changed…Who is spectacular today in your opinion? Thanks for all your work!

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