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5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids

By Drew Bittel on December 11th, 2013

Jumping, running, swinging, hopping, sliding, and skipping can all be used to describe children on the go! Kids are constantly on the move, and I love capturing them in action as they busily explore and discover their world. However, it's frustrating when you try to get the perfect action shot and your images turn out blurry. It's an easy fix, though. Try these tips below to get sharp and focused shots of children in motion!

5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids

1. Raise your shutter speed. To get tack-sharp pictures, you need to freeze motion. And in order to freeze motion, you need to have a high enough shutter speed. If you are shooting in manual mode, be sure that your shutter speed is above 1/200. Anything below that is going to be blurry with much motion. If you are shooting sports outdoors where you have a lot of available light, set your shutter speed at or above 1/1000. The higher the shutter speed, the better when shooting action.

5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids

2. Adjust your aperture. Your aperture will also play a role in getting sharp images. If you shoot with too shallow of a depth of field (a small f stop number), it will be hard to get your subject in focus. For action shots, try shooting with an aperture of 5.6 or smaller (larger f-stop number). That way you will have a broader depth of field, which will allow more of your image to be in focus. When you get used to shooting action shots then you can try shooting with a larger aperture to really isolate your subject from the background.

5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids
5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids
5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids
5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids

3. Turn on continuous shooting mode. When teaching my Mom*togs sessions, I always tell beginners to shoot in single shot mode when getting started in photography. That's so they really pay attention to each shot and don't just "spray and pray," taking multiple shots in a row and hoping one will turn out. However, for action shots I do recommend turning your camera to continuous shooting mode. When shooting in this mode, you can take multiple pictures at a faster rate, allowing you to capture an entire sequence of action. Remember, your camera will have to record all of those images. The more images you shoot, the longer it will take for your camera to record them and allow you to begin shooting again.

5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids

4. Use the center focal point. Whenever I'm taking action pictures, I always keep my center focal point on the face of my subject. If you focus past your subject, you will get an out of focus shot. When I can, I also like to focus and recompose to keep interest in my image and not always have my subject in the center of the frame. However, I still use the center focal point because it's typically the most accurate.

5 Tips for Taking Great Action Shots of Kids

5. Switch to shutter priority mode. If you are uncomfortable shooting in manual mode, try shooting in shutter priority mode. In shutter priority mode, you set your shutter speed and your camera automatically adjusts your aperture. Set your camera to TV for Canon users or S for Nikon users. Next, set your shutter speed to 1/1000. If you don't have enough available light, try lowering your shutter speed or raising your ISO.

When you are comfortable shooting in shutter priority mode, then move onto shooting in manual where you can really have control of your images.

Bonus: Learn photography online from the New York Institute of Photography! Enroll today.

About the Author

Drew Bittel is a family photographer in Southern California and owner of DrewB Photography. She also writes a popular blog for moms called Mom*tog. Mom*tog was inspired by her love of taking pictures of her own children, Brayden who is five and Kennedy who is almost two. Drew loves helping moms learn to take control of their cameras and capture beautiful memories of their own families.


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