Freeze the action photography challenge

5 minute photography challenge – freeze the action

No matter where you are on your photography journey, taking 5 minutes now and then to focus on one particular element can help you either really start to understand that particular aspect, or help get your creativity flowing again.

This particular challenge focuses on shutter speeds, and will hopefully help beginners understand how different shutter speeds can either freeze or blur movement.

And if you’re familiar with all the technicalities of shutter speeds, then this little challenge will hopefully spark your creativity as you look around for different moments in your life to capture.

So, here’s the challenge. 

Grab your camera and freeze the action.


If you’re new to photography and aren’t entirely sure what shutter speed is and how you can change it to create different types of photos, then take 10 minutes to read my ‘all about shutter speed‘ blog post and then come back here to try this challenge.

It’s a really simple challenge, but it’ll help with understanding shutter speed if you’re just starting to get your camera off auto, and it’s also a fun creative challenge if you’ve been taking photos for years and are feeling stuck in a bit of a rut.


The challenge is to freeze the action of your children playing.

It’s up to you what activity you want to photograph, but make it something that involves a decent level of movement.  This is a great challenge to try at the park where you can have a go at freezing the action as your child explores all the different play areas.


All you have to do is put your camera on shutter priority mode and set it to a nice, fast shutter speed.

The exact shutter speed you use will depend on the light conditions you’re taking photos in, but somewhere around 1/250 to 1/500 will  be good.  When you use shutter priority mode the camera will select the other settings for you, so your photos should be nicely exposed without you needing to do anything else.


Then let your child run and play as you snap away.

You’ll need to be careful with your focus as your child moves around, and it’s up to you if you want to set your camera to auto focus or if you prefer to select a focus point yourself.  Don’t worry if a fair few of your photos aren’t in focus, that’s the beauty of digital photography, you can take a whole series of pictures and choose the best ones to keep at the end.

If you do head to the park for this challenge, here are some ideas for moments you can try and capture:

  • Climbing up the steps or rope ladder up to a slide
  • Coming back down the slide
  • Laughing as they go back and forth on the swings
  • Simply running from one end of the play park to the other
  • Swinging on the monkey bars
  • Sliding down the fireman’s pole


You can, of course, try out this challenge anywhere you want. 

If you’re out for a walk you can try photographing them running towards you, or jumping in autumn puddles.

And if you live somewhere near the water you can get some great action shots of them throwing pebbles into the water, like this one I took of Nerys in our local woods a few years ago.


Have a think about the things your child likes to do that involves movement and action, and then give this challenge a go and see if you can freeze the moment with a fast shutter speed.

Don’t worry about the photos being perfect, just have fun getting to grips with adjusting your shutter speed and understanding how a fast shutter speed lets you capture so much detail of that one moment in time.

Just like with the 5 minute aperture challenge, there are no right or wrong ways to do this.

If you try a shutter speed of 1/250 and you’re still getting motion blur in your photos, then gradually increase the shutter speed until you find you’re getting the nice, crisp, frozen-in-time moments you’re after.

Above all though, have fun with it!

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