Shooting Casual Portraits in and around The Home
This week is focused on photographing fast-moving subjects! There are few things that will help you photograph fast-moving subjects better than working with the correct shutter speed, so here’s a quick overview – or review! – on shutter speed. In my experience, the better you know the ins and outs of each aspect of exposure, the better your images will match that picture you have in your head when you take your shot.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed simply refers to the speed at which your camera’s shutter opens and closes, with has to do with how much or little light is let in when you’re taking a photograph. That’s it. That’s really all that shutter speed means.
A shutter that is opening and closing fast is referred to as having fast shutter speed, and it’s letting in less light. A shutter that is opening and closing more slowly is referred to as having slower shutter speed, and it’s letting in more light. As simple as that is, the shutter speed you select can clearly make a big difference in the look and feel of your image because selecting the correct shutter speed can allow you to freeze action or blur it, as you prefer. So the biggest decision to make when utilizing shutter speed, outside of controlling your exposure, is to determine what you want to convey in that image. Do you want to freeze the subject and capture that immediate slice of life, with everything in its place exactly as it was when you pressed the shutter? Or do you want to convey a sense of movement, of flow, a glimpse of that action, and the actual visual feel of that action?
Shorter exposures, like 1/2000th of a second, have faster speeds and less time to capture light, which makes them a great choice for brightly lit or fast-moving/action shots. Longer exposures, like 1/30th of a second, have slower speeds and capture more light, which is needed for darker shots or when you want to convey a sense of movement.
When I’m photographing children, athletes, or highly-caffeinated friends, I typically stay in a nice, safe shutter speed range, typically not dipping below 1/250th of a second. I do this to minimize any unintentional blur that may occur with unexpected movement from my subject – or from myself!
As I mentioned in Week 2’s overview on aperture, I shoot everything in manual mode because I prefer to manually select my ISO, shutter speed and aperture. But a lot of photographers prefer to shoot portraits in a Priority mode, which means they partially control an image’s exposure – and they let the camera figure out the rest. In this case, selecting Shutter Speed Priority means locking in the shutter speed you want and letting the camera choose the other settings. Another preferred auto setting is Sports/Action mode. In this setting, the setting will set up a fast shutter speed to catch movement in the moment without blurring it. In addition, you will be shooting with a higher f-stop, ensuring the entire area of interest is within the field of focus.
As always, the joy of photographing casual portraits – whether they are still or fast-moving subjects – is in the interaction and experience that both you and your subject are having. So keeping things fun and relaxed while you try for a shot multiple times can ensure that your subject wants to keep playing along, as you perfect your shot.
Here are some examples of fast and slow shutter speed, as well as a fun BTS video (using Profoto B2 strobes with HSS), to show you fast shutter speed – and fun engagement – in action!

Nikon D850, 70-200mm f2.8
1/2000 sec, f3.2, ISO 400

Nikon D800, 24-70mm f2.8
1/20 sec, f/20, ISO 1600
From BTS Video:

Nikon D4S, 24-70mm f2.8
1/3200 sec, f4, ISO 1000