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4.1: Direction of Movement

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    This lesson will help you learn and practice Direction of Movement. In Get the Basics, you'll get explanations and photos to build understanding. In Explore, you'll find additional online resources to learn more. It's important to review and learn from these resources also! You'll have opportunities to practice in Build Your Skills. Finally, answer the questions in Record Your Findings at the end of this topic. Be sure to include information you learned from the Explore resources.

    Get the Basics

    Direction of movement is the feeling that a photo's subject is moving across the photo. It is created by allowing space in front of the subject for the subject to move into. In the photo on the left below, the dog is centered. There is an equal amount of space in front of and behind the dog. Your eye is drawn equally in front of and behind the dog, so the dog appears to be still. In the photo on the right, the space in front of the dog is greater than the space behind the dog. This greater space is called leading space. Your eye is drawn to the leading space making it appear that the dog is walking into that space. The photo on the right is an example of direction of movement.

    dog with stick at the beach

    Using leading space to create direction of movement can be applied to any subject capable of moving. Here are two more examples of direction of movement.

    1. The woman appears to be walking from left to right into the leading space.

    woman walking with umbrella

    2. The bicycle racer appears to be moving from right to left into the leading space.

    car driving in the rain


    Before shooting your own direction of movement photos, here's a quick look at direction of movement, what it is and why it works, at Leave Space For Movement from Outdoor Photographer:

    Then, check these examples and explanations from Project 6: direction of movement at Susan Barwood's OCA Photography blog:

    Build Your Skills

    Shoot four or more pairs of photos. For the first photo in each pair, center the subject. For the second photo in each pair, apply the concept of direction of movement by leaving leading space in front of the subject.

    Compare your direction of movement photo pairs. Select FOUR pairs. Share your photo pairs with your teacher, and be prepared to discuss how they show what you’ve learned. Download your photos to a computer to keep them for the portfolio you’ll create in the end-of-course final project.

    Record Your Findings

    • What is leading space?
    • How does leading space create direction of movement?
    • Describe what you did with your photos to create direction of movement.


    Image Reference Attributions

    [Figure 1]

    Credit: BenSpark; June 3, 2008

    [Figure 2]

    Credit: m-a-s-h-i-m-a-r-o; April 25, 2010

    [Figure 3]

    Credit: K. Yasuhara; April 8, 2007

    4.1: Direction of Movement is shared under a CK-12 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by CK-12 Foundation via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

    CK-12 Foundation
    CK-12 Foundation is licensed under CK-12 Curriculum Materials License