Panning People In Street Photography - Carla Coulson
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Panning People In Street Photography

Panning People, Black and White Photography, Paris, Paris Cafe, Fashion

All Photos Copyright Carla Coulson


Dear Friends,

One of my intentions as a photographer when I take pictures is to take pictures that have a feeling in them and we are lucky with photography to have many different tricks to be able to do this,  even when there appears like not a lot is happening.

One of the techniques I have always loved is panning. My first book Italian Joy had a photo of a couple on a scooter ‘panned’ and I have since incorporated it into photographing people.


Panning People


You need a lot of patience when panning people as the technique is even more difficult with people as they are moving slowly. You ‘pan’, move your camera from left to right or vice versa at the same speed as your subject in a fluid movement and then click when you like the frame.

Panning creates the feeling of motion even if your subject is moving slowly.


Panning People


Here’s what I do:

  1. Set my shutter speed at about 1/20 sec depending on how quickly the people are walking – the faster they are walking the faster your shutter speed needs to be
  2. I wait for a subject that is parallel to me on a straight line in front of me
  3. I set the focus on manual and focus on a point between them and me knowing they will pass that line
  4. I remain still but allow my camera to follow them and when I see the composition I like I press the shutter but I don’t stop there
  5. I continue to move the camera with them in a fluid movement to complete the ‘pan’
  6. The part of your photo that you have focused on is in focus but the rest is fluid and blurry,


Panning People, Carla Coulson, Martina Franca


Trouble shooting:

  1. Don’t despair if your photos are ALL blurry the first couple of times you do it. Often it is because you AREN’T moving at the same speed as they are.
  2. Check your focus and make sure if you are using autofocus to set it to single shot not continuous and keep your finger on the shutter with the correct focal point till your subject appears in the right spot.


Have fun..

For instant feeling just pan, stir, shake and rinse and repeat!!!!



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