Painting With My Camera - Intentional Camera Movement

Since I began making photographs around 30-years ago, taking pictures that capture the sensation of movement and creating abstract images has been a major interest of mine, and after I discovered ICM, an entirely new realm of photography was opened to me. Intentional Camera Movement occurs movement of the camera in vertical, horizontal, or diagonal directions while the shutter is in use. The resultant image is blurred and is often abstract. ICM images aren’t the type of images that people typically think of as standard photographs since the motion of movement is recorded and recreated in the image by the process. I refer to it as “painting using my camera” because my pictures are artistic and impressionistic. Other images can be more abstract.

Each photographer develops their own style and process and then develops his or her own personal style as well as distinctive that is true to all photographers and photographers who use ICM in their work; therefore, I provide these suggestions and methods that are mindful of our unique approaches to photography. If you are a photographer who is interested in ICM, you must discover your own way to the work of others and create your own unique style.

Tips and Tricks


Utilizing a tripod is the most effective method of introducing yourself to intentional camera movements. It’s a great tool, to begin with, using long sweeps of left to right and left to right within 2-3 seconds in low lighting conditions. You must be in circumstances of low light or neutral density filters to permit the photographer to shoot in daylight. Review your EXIF information once you’ve found the things you enjoy in your work. It will provide you with important details on how to set the aperture and shutter speeds to get the desired look in your photos.

Shutter Speed

The speed of the shutter is likely to be the most important factor in determining what you want in your photographs. I like, for my photography, to shoot between 1/20 and 1/5 seconds. To achieve great results with these rapid shutter speeds, you need for the camera to be moved quickly, with a solid follow-through, and set the camera to “continuous shutter.” When it is daylight setting your camera at the lower ISO and closing the aperture will allow you to find the shutter speed which is suitable for you. I like using aperture priority with my camera in order to get the slowest shutter speed, as I’ve observed that shutter speed can vary depending on how the camera is moved between dark and light regions of the subject.

Selecting your Images

When it comes to selecting the best ICM photos, this is an individual decision, just like any art. However, here are a few guidelines to help you look beyond the first image before you decide to delete it! When choosing your images, there are certain interrelationships in the picture that will be appealing to you while others won’t.

For instance, the color balance, as well as the gradations and tonality, darkness, and lightness within the picture, will make a difference to the quality of your image. Examining your photograph to see the image inside the photo is an excellent technique to master as you can take a good photo and improve it by cropping other photos that simply cannot be enhanced. Interrelations between dark and light and their “heaviness” in color or darkness must be properly balanced in an image. You don’t want to see an image that is light or dark on the other side; however, it should be equally balanced visually.

Layers of color and tones have to be balanced, too. For instance, a big layer on the top of the image that covers two-thirds of the area and many smaller layers on the bottom of the image may not be the most effective option since it’s not pleasing to the eyes. Cropping of this layer to make it more balanced with the bottom part of an image could be a possibility to think about.


Then, play, explore! Find inspiration in photographers that you admire, who shoot ICM photos, and then have fun by playing around! Exploring using ICM can help you in your photography, to discover your style and your personal approach to this method of photography. You shouldn’t try to be a copycat, but instead, be impressed by their work! If ICM is your thing, it is likely that your love for it will continue to grow, and you’ll be able to use a variety of memory cards as this technique consumes a lot of space!!