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High Speed Portrait Photography Ideas and Tips

High Speed Portrait Photography Ideas and Tips

High-speed photography is a way to capture moments that are not possible to see using our eyes. These moments last for a split second and you can capture them only with high-speed photography techniques. When it comes to high-speed photography, people usually click water or paint splashes, bursting balloons, paint powder, etc.

Why don’t we combine these with portrait photography and take it to the next level? In this article, let’s talk about some ideas for high-speed portrait photography and a few tips that will help you get the best results.

1. Water Splash:


 Water Splash

This will be an easy shoot as water is available everywhere and people love to play with water. It’s safer and makes less mess compared to paint or powder. You can throw water towards your subject and when it hit the subject and make a splash, you can click that moment. The second option is to put a balloon in the hands of your subject, burst it and take the shot.


 Water Splash

You can shoot kids playing with water or throwing water at each other. A swimming pool is another option, where you can click your subject jumping in the water or making a splash using hairs. We love to jump in a puddle and that can be a good subject for high-speed portrait photography.

2. Paint:


It’s the same as above but you use paint instead of water. The benefit of paint is that you’ll get more beautiful splashes but on the other hand, you need to do lots of cleaning after this shoot and also you need a model who is ready to get messy with the paint. An easy option is that your model throws the paint on something or in the air, instead of you throw the paint toward the subject.

3. Powder:


You can make your portrait photography special using colored power. The colored powder can be prepared at home using cornstarch and food colors. Use action poses like jumping, clapping, or kicking with colored powder.

4. Water Crown:

Water Crown

This is also a fun project. You can toss water from the top of your subject and let it make different shape crowns. Use plastic fruit baskets to make different shapes.

5. Sports Action:

Sports Action

If you love sports, you can add amazing high-speed action shots to your portfolio. It can be a swimmer coming out of the water with splashes all over his face, or a black belt karate champion while breaking bricks, or your favorite football player jumping and kicking the ball or a dirt bike in the air, possibilities are limitless.

6. Jump:


Ask your friend or a kid to jump and take the shot in midair. This type of picture gives the feeling of freedom and happiness.

These are some of the ideas for high-speed portrait photography. Now let’s talk about some points to remember to get the best shots.

Useful Tips for High Speed Portrait Photography 

1. Use higher shutter speed: When you are doing high-speed photography, it’s obvious that you need to use a higher shutter speed. For jump and action sports shots, 1/500 seconds speed is enough but if you’re shooting splashes, use at least 1/1000 seconds or higher shutter speed to freeze the splash otherwise it’ll have some motion blur. For that, you may need to increase ISO or use a wide aperture.

2. Never compromise the safety of your subject: Taking an extraordinary shot is important but the safety of your model is more important. If you are taking water splash photos, make sure that it’s a warm day and you are shooting is mid-day. You may use lukewarm water instead of cold water.

If you are shooting using colors or powder, make sure that it’s not harmful to the skin of your model. When you throw colors, don’t throw them from the front. It may go in your subject’s eyes and also it may cover the face and ruin the shot.

It’s a good practice to take a shot of the model with open eyes and ask them to close their eyes when you are throwing color or powder. You may replace the closed eyes later on in post-processing. Use small earplugs to prevent water or colors from going inside the ears.

water splash portrait

3. Safety of the gears: Safety of your expensive gears is also very important. Use longer focal length lenses so you can maintain enough distance from splashes. Cover your camera, lens, and flashes with a plastic sheet. If you are shooting with powder, avoid changing the lens because if powder entered into the camera body, it may cause damage to it. If it’s necessary to change the lens, do it in another room. 

4. Use burst mode: If you are shooting outdoors, always try to shoot with the burst mode of the camera. With burst mode, there will be fewer chances that you’ll miss the perfect moment, and sometimes you’ll get two or more shots with one action. If you are using flashes or studio lights, it’s not possible as they can’t fire so rapidly.



Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!


5. Use flash:  If you are shooting indoors, obviously you need flashes or some other lights. Always use the flashes with lower power settings (1/32 or 1/64 or 1/128). With a lower power setting, you’ll get a shorter burst duration and you will be able to freeze the moment.

sports photography

If you are shooting outdoors and you need some extra light, you may also use flashes. Every camera has a flash sync speed which is between 1/125 to 1/250 seconds shutter speed. Above this speed, you can’t use a flash but thanks to the technology, most flashes now come with a high-speed sync feature which allows us to go above our camera’s flash sync speed. You can easily shoot with 1/2000 seconds or higher shutter speed using high-speed sync.

6. Use a high-speed camera trigger: You may use a camera trigger like MIOPS Smart+ to trigger the camera or flashes so you’ll be free to do the action. In some cases, you can use it on sound trigger mode or you can use it as a remote trigger.

7. Get an Assistant: It’s a good idea to have an assistant for this kind of shoot. Your assistant can do the action like bursting the balloon or throw water or color and you can take the shot. He or she can also help you clean up after the shoot.

I hope this article gave you some ideas for a new kind of photography. So gear up and let’s do it.

Related Article 1: What Is High Speed Photography

Related Article 2: Fundamentals of High Speed Photography

Blog and Image Credits: Ramakant Sharda

Ramakant is an Award-Winning Photographer, Author, Mobile Apps Publisher based in the beautiful “Pink City” of India, known as Jaipur. Many of his works have been published in magazines, newspapers, and international blogs. He writes about photography and also teaches photography in his workshops. He has published three (so far) coffee table books. Get his latest book Mastering High-Speed Photography.

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