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What Is Kinetic Photography?: Photography Basics Explained

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Camera Toss 2

Photography is generally fun and exciting, and various photography branches stand out. One of the most intriguing types of photography is kinetic photography; it represents any photograph that results from motion. It’s an experimental photography technique, so there are no precise rules, which makes it even more attractive to photographers worldwide.

Today, we’ll discuss kinetic photography, how it works, and the good and bad sides of this photography technique.

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How Does It Work?

Kinetic photography is an experimental photography method in which the person taking a photograph uses movement combined with physics to make the photograph. Typically, the artist doesn’t hold the camera. Instead, the artist allows the camera to react with gravity and physical forces to make the photo.

While there are no precise rules for this technique, people typically make these motions to create the images:

  • Shaking the camera while taking the photo
  • Dropping the camera off from different objects while taking the photo
  • Throwing the camera in the air while taking the photo
  • Spinning the camera while taking the photo

Since movement is essential to make this technique work, the photographs commonly turn out abstract, blurred, and can look random at times. The patterns you capture will typically resemble kaleidoscopes and geometrical designs.

What Are the Different Types of Kinetic Photography?

Kinetic photography results

Image Credit: Pxhere

While there are no general definitions of the types of kinetic photography, we can divide them into conservative and extreme kinetic photography. This division is based on the way the photographer captures the kinetic photo.

Conservative Kinetic Photography

Kinetic photography is never completely safe as it involves camera movements that could possibly break your camera. However, this is the safer way of trying out the kinetic photography technique, as it’s less risky.

You can follow these steps to try out conservative  kinetic photography:
  • Secure your camera strap
  • Adjust the camera settings to allow your exposure to last long enough to keep the camera shutter open for the length of your swing
  • Hold the camera strap and click the shutter button
  • To your preference, you can shake, twirl, or spin the camera to take photos
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and let go

This is the safest form of kinetic photography, allowing you to take some stunning shots while keeping your camera safe. It’s all about being playful, fun, and stepping out of your comfort zone.

You could also attach your camera to a tripod, shaking or moving it towards your subject. That way, the camera will remain intact as its connection with the tripod is stable.

 Extreme Kinetic Photography

earthy colours and blue twirl

Image Credit: Lynn Greyling, PublicDomainPictures

If conservative kinetic photography sounds scary, you can imagine how it feels to make extreme kinetic photography shots. Extreme kinetic photography is much more adventurous as it requires you to toss your camera in the air.

Because of that, many people refer to this kinetic photography type as camera tossing. To perform this type of photography, you should have excellent hand-to-eye coordination and good catching skills to avoid your camera falling and breaking into pieces.

To obtain the best results, you should toss your camera in various directions, achieving exciting photographs.

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Advantages of Kinetic Photography

What makes kinetic photography so appealing is that there are no set rules that allow you to create them. That means you can use your imagination to create out-of-this-world photographs.

Here are some of the best things about kinetic photography:
  • The ability to use your imagination, be playful, and creative
  • Individual, abstract photographs that combine movement and light
  • No strict rules you need to follow
  • A unique way to express yourself

This is really a special branch of photography, and you should try it out if you get a chance.

Disadvantages of Kinetic Photography

While fun, kinetic photography is not everyone’s cup of tea. Typically, people need to be open-minded and carefree to get involved in this technique, as it can be risky.

Here are some of the most significant drawbacks of this photography technique:
  • Requires practice and patience
  • Possible camera breakage
  • Photos could be blurry
  • Simply not for everyone

Advice for Taking Kinetic Photographs

iphone with accessories used for mobile photography

Image Credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash

Although there are no strict rules to kinetic photography, you should know a few things that will allow you to make better kinetic photos and make the whole photography process safer.

Achieve Proper Lighting

When taking kinetic photographs, lighting plays a vital role in the quality of your shots and the final effect you will achieve. It’s advisable for the area to be somewhat dark, and you can try using different light sources to see what works best for you.

It might be best to start with a single light source while increasing it over time as you become more comfortable. You can gradually add more light sources and change the setup to achieve the results you’re aiming for.

Use an Inexpensive Camera

Even when practicing safe kinetic photography, there’s still a possibility of a mishap, and you could break your camera. Because of that, you should use an inexpensive camera for kinetic photographs.

Of course, you could use your regular camera, but if it’s pricey, it’s not worth risking it as your equipment could suffer real damage. You can achieve excellent kinetic photos with more affordable gear, which is always better.

Soft Landing Spot

Even when using an older or inexpensive camera to take your kinetic shots, you should still prep and make a soft-landing spot to prevent your camera from breaking. You can stand near a couch or cushion for your first photos or place a pillow at the landing spot.

If outdoors, look for areas with grass or anything similar that would soften the fall. Your camera will remain in much better shape if it falls on a soft spot instead of falling on a hard surface.

Practice Patience

Although you may get good shots during your first attempts, kinetic photography takes practice and patience. You’ll need to invest time and experiment until you learn more about this photography technique and its advanced methods.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Is Movement Important in Kinetic Photography?

Kinetic photography relies on movement in combination with light to provide you with unique, abstract shots. Movement is essential to gain the geometrical, funky feel of kinetic photographs.

The movement in abstract photographs allows the photo to tell a story and have its form and shape, which are crucial for fun and exciting kinetic photos.

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Final Thoughts

Kinetic photography is not for everyone. However, only those who decide to engage in the technique will get to experience all the benefits it brings. If you like challenges and are not afraid to step out of the box, you should definitely try out kinetic photography.


Featured Image Credit: Camera Toss 2 (Thomas Quine, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

About the Author Visnja Radosavljevic

Visnja is a creative, adaptable content writer that covers various topics such as DIY, pets, home improvement, travel, gardening, and more. As a young mom and a college student, she didn’t have enough time to balance her personal and work life, so after multiple years of working a regular 9 to 5 job, she decided to pursue her passion and make a living out of it. She has been writing for a couple of years now, helping people to find valuable and interesting information online.

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