Panning technique is a valuable skill for photographers who want to capture dynamic movement in their images. Whether you’re photographing fast-moving subjects like cars and cyclists, or want to add a sense of motion to portraits or wildlife shots, mastering the panning technique can greatly enhance your photography skills.

In this tutorial, we’ll explore the key principles of panning and provide practical tips for achieving sharp subjects against a motion-blurred background. From selecting the right camera settings to executing the technique flawlessly, we’ll guide you through the process step-by-step.

Understanding the Panning Technique

Panning involves tracking a moving subject horizontally or vertically while taking a photograph. The objective is to keep the subject sharp while creating a sense of motion by intentionally blurring the background.

This technique works by setting a slow shutter speed and matching the camera’s movement with the subject’s motion. It requires a combination of camera and body movement coordination, making it challenging but highly rewarding when executed correctly.

Tips for Mastering the Panning Technique

1. Select the Right Shutter Speed:

Choosing the appropriate shutter speed is crucial for panning. Start with a relatively slow shutter speed of around 1/30th of a second and adjust as needed. Slower speeds will create more motion blur, while faster speeds can freeze the subject’s movement.

2. Use Continuous Autofocus:

Enable Continuous Autofocus mode to ensure that your camera continuously adjusts focus as you pan. This is especially important when photographing subjects that are moving towards or away from you.

3. Stabilize Your Body:

Panning requires smooth and steady body movement. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, tuck your elbows into your body, and rotate from your waist to follow the subject’s motion. Take deep breaths to steady your hands.

4. Choose the Appropriate Mode:

Shoot in Shutter Priority mode (Tv/S) or Manual mode (M) to have full control over the shutter speed. This allows you to experiment and find the optimal settings for different shooting scenarios.

5. Practice with Predictable Movement:

Mastering panning takes practice. Start by photographing subjects with predictable movements, such as cars driving along a straight road or athletes running on a track. As you become more comfortable, challenge yourself with more complex subjects and environments.

Panning in Different Photography Genres

Panning can be applied to various photography genres, adding a sense of motion and energy to your images:

Sports Photography: Panning can capture the intensity and speed of athletes during sports events. Experiment with different shutter speeds to convey the desired level of motion blur.

Wildlife Photography: When photographing birds in flight or fast-moving animals, panning can highlight their movement while keeping the subject sharp against a blurred background.

Portrait Photography: Panning can add dynamism to portrait shots, particularly when photographing subjects engaged in active movements like dancing or playing a musical instrument.


Panning is a technique that requires practice and patience, but when executed successfully, it can produce stunning images that convey a strong sense of motion and energy. By following the tips outlined in this tutorial and dedicating time to honing your panning skills, you’ll be able to capture dynamic movement and elevate your photography to new heights.

Now, it’s your turn! Give panning a try and share your experiences and photos in the comments below. We’d love to hear about your progress and answer any questions you may have.