Photo Tip Friday: 3 Tips for Taking Clear Action Shots

by Mary Denman   @MaryDenman

Have you ever seen great action shots and wondered how the photographer captured them? 

Well, I have a couple of tips for you today to help you learn to take better action shots. 

They may seem simple, but they can really help you get the photos you want! 

Let's get started.

COLLAGE 1: In our first example below, my son was using his skim board at the beach. He was running full speed to jump on the board and ride the water. 

COLLAGE 1: Mary Denman Photography
We had a blast. He loves to show off for the camera. 

But notice how many shots are in this one sequence. Here are 5 that I'm showing you. I probably took 10 each time he went by. 


Because it's very difficult to snap one shot when he's airborne about to land on the board. That's the shot I really wanted. So I took multiple. 


By holding the button down and letting the camera take multiple shots before releasing. 

This may seem straight forward, but you have to train yourself to keep your finger down and let your camera take as many shots as it can.

TIP 1: Use the feature of taking multiple shots on your camera or phone to capture more of the action. When your subject is moving past you, your reflexes may have trouble keeping up. Let the camera do the work of capturing more images than just one. You can then go through them and grab the best shots.

TIP 2: You can always delete shots. But you can't add pictures later that you didn't take. Again, this may seem obvious, but many people take one shot, don't really get what they want and just figure they're not a great photographer. Change that thinking! 

Let's move on to the next example.

COLLAGE 2: I saw a seagull at the water's edge. I could tell he was getting ready to take off and so I started shooting. But as he moved, I had to do something to keep him in the frame. I stayed in place, but followed him with my camera as he gained height and speed, turning as he passed. 
COLLAGE 2: Mary Denman Photography

While this may seem very obvious in this case, we forget to use this principle when our little ones are running by. Or a cool car is driving past and we want a picture. 

Often, we hold our camera up and snap away at moving subjects. While this can work, more often than not, we end up with blurry photos and wonder why. 

Which leads us to our first tip. 

TIP 3: Move your camera along with your subject while taking action shots. Had I stayed in one place and not moved my camera, the bird would have flown straight out of the picture after one or two shots. 

So, when trying to capture a subject in action, make sure you set yourself up for getting the shot you want. Follow your subject and take multiple shots. Then, later, you can choose the ones you want to keep. 

ASSIGNMENT: Try to take pictures of things that move: Cars, Pets, Kids, Birds, Cyclists. Practice turning with your subject. 

BLOGGERS: Continue to hone your photography skills to use on your own blog. There's a joy from using your own shots to illustrate a point or create a meme. 

CELL PHONE USERS: As cell phones keep improving, you will have more functionality. On my iPhone 6, I have burst capability. That means I can take multiple shots by holding my finger down. Check your cell to see if it has a similar option. 

Hope these tips help!

Keep on clicking!




  1. Thanks for this tip, Mary. Scott looks great!

    1. He has a blast on anything that slides or rolls!

  2. I can't wait to try this out on my new camera! Unfortunately, I see the coolest things when I'm walking Ruby in the park when I don't have my camera with me. I always say I'll go back but I never do. :(

    1. Take it with you Sherry! I can't wait to see you either!

  3. Great shots and great tips. I don't think my phone does that but it's good to know I can look for that feature on other phones.

    1. Barbara, if you have a smart phone, it should do a burst. Just hold your finger on the button and it will take multiple shots. But if it's not a smart phone, then it won't.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  4. What a great series this is Mary. I'm a blogger who is trying to get better at taking pictures, and I can use all the advice I can get. You'll definitely be seeing more of me on your blog.

    1. I'm so glad I can help Mary! (Great name by the way! ;)

      Have a wonderful weekend.