Photographing Motion Indoors By Joe McNally

1 hr 47 min

Join Joe McNally for a series of on-location shoots as he demonstrates different techniques for revealing people and objects in motion. From capturing an aerial dancer on a flowing silk to showing the motion of flowing fabric and hair, Joe steps you through the process of pulling all of the pieces together and then modifying them on the fly to meet the real world conditions you will encounter. Joe uses a combination of ambient light, speedlights, continuous hot lights, and strobe to create different effects that can be used to show blur or stop all motion in its tracks.

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Join Joe on the set of a dance studio as he introduces the class and jumps right into things by walking you through the process of a site assessment and getting ready for the shoot.
We start off by getting a feel for the scene using ambient light, putting the camera in position, and getting a sense of the settings we might use for the shoot before bringing in the subject.
Using available light Joe starts off with a series of simple portraits to start working with the subject.
Still working with simple portraits, Joe brings in flash to start to control the light, and control how the background will appear.
Building on what we've learned from the work we've done so far we begin to introduce motion in the subject and adjust the camera and light as needed to get the desired shot.
The available light was problematic for getting the desired shot, and has now been replaced with continuous light and the garage door has been closed. The speedlight has been replaced by studio strobes, and now Joe has a greater level of control over the lighting environment.
As the shoot evolves we discover that each element needs to continue to be tweaked to find the sweet spot for achieving the desired shot.
When all the elements come together we can get a nice picture, even if it wasn't the picture we originally had in mind, which is not uncommon when you are shooting on location.
A new subject brings a new lighting setup. Starting again with a series of simple portraits as a means to work toward the final product that includes motion.
You don't have to always just use flash and you don't always have to use just continuous light. You can combine light sources for a flash and blur effect.
Controlling the timing of when the flash goes off is very important when trying to capture motion.
This is a technique that involves capturing a moving subject with multiple flash exposures.
Scaling down some of the concepts of early lessons, Joe brings motion to a classic beauty shot to create something a little different.
Profile photo of Joe McNally

Meet your instructor

Joe McNally


Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose career has spanned 30 years and included assignments in over 50 countries. He has shot cover stories for TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, and Men's Journal. He has been at various times in his career a contract photog...

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Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of jtuttle962 jtuttle962

    Excellent…loved the multi-exposure shots.

  2. Profile photo of brauna brauna

    Lighting as it appears is like a game of chess. One move forward and anticipate the next move give and take. Thank U very informative!!! :)

  3. Profile photo of arrovel arrovel

    Would it be possible to know what tripod and ballhead was Joe using in this class?
    Are these, tripod and ballhead, his usual gear?

  4. Profile photo of oldmanwalking oldmanwalking

    It’s not just what your head learns with Joe McNally. It’s what the spirit learns as well. Thanks, Joe and Scott.

  5. Profile photo of Ingo Meckmann Ingo Meckmann

    I’m having some issues with lesson 5 at 04:40 where it freezes until 07:12. The video continues there but without sound until the end of that lesson. I watched it on a Mac and used two different browsers: Safari and Chrome.

    It could very well be that I’m doing something wrong as I seem to be the first one to report this… not sure what, though.. :)

  6. Profile photo of lbeaulook lbeaulook

    I learned SO MUCH! Which was to be expected, because, as Scott would say: “It`s Joe “friggin'” McNally!”. So clear in his explanations. Thank you!!!

  7. Profile photo of Christopher Christopher

    You guys are spoiling us with all of this content from Joe! Keep it up guys!

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