iPhone photography: how to use Intentional Camera Movement to your advantage

I hope you have had a great couple of weeks making some HDR magic with your iPhone. Today we are going to explore a more abstract and fun approach to iPhone photography. If you remember a couple of lessons back we were using a slow shutter speed to create light trails. You probably remember having to hold your iPhone still and leave your camera shutter open for a long time. It was kind of complicated and gear intensive.

This time around, we are going to leave our shutter open for a long time but careless about holding our iPhone still. This is a technique that we in the industry call “Intentional Camera Movement” or ICM. The goal is to intentionally use blur to create something unique and beautiful!

ICM is a fun way to continue to expand your creative landscape photography. It instantly turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Configuring Your iPhone For ICM

To get the ball rolling and your iPhoneography moving, we will be using the Slow Shutter Cam app. Configuring it is easy:

Step 1: Bring up the Settings menu.

Step 2: Set it to operate in “Automatic” mode. In Automatic mode, the iPhone will calculate the appropriate exposure (brightness/darkness) of the image for us and keep things simple. In our next lesson will take a deeper dive into the the relationship of light, aperture, and shutter speeds. For ICM, we will keep it simple by using Automatic mode and let the iPhone figure all that out for us.

Step 3: Set Your Shutter Speed. Shutter Speed will control how long your exposure will last. For example .5 = 1/2 a second and 15 = 15 seconds. “B” is a unique one. “B” harkens back to the days of DLSRs. When you select “B,” the shutter will remain open as long, or as short as you like. You are in total control of the duration by simply touching the shutter button to start the exposure and touching it again to end it. This is a great option for low light situations when you need exposures longer than 15 seconds. I’d suggest you experiment with different shutter speeds as you also experiment with how fast you move your iPhone.

Step 4: Close up the Settings, move your iPhone, and make some magic!

Step 5: When you’re done and the ICM image appears, make sure to save it by touching the disk icon. That will save it to your Camera Roll for further processing if you’d like.

Types Of Intentional Camera Movements

If you would like to see a few different types of camera movements, I put together a little video where you can see them all in action along with their results.

Other Examples

A great way to leverage ICM is to have a static subject in your photo, with a blurred background. If you have a Hemi (like my buddy Jacob Lucas), you don’t even need to use a slow shutter. I created this photograph simply by focusing on the mirror while we were driving through the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon.

If you don’t have a Hemi, or your out on your bike you might need to use Slow Shutter Cam. I discover all sorts of creativity when I’m out on long bike rides by myself. Eighty kilometers into a recent ride, I tried my hand at some ICM from the bike.


ICM works better in lower light – By no means does it have to be dark, but if you have a choice of photographing the scene in the sun or shade, choose the shade! Why? Because darker scenes allow the shutter to be open longer, letting the movement be more exaggerated.

Move parallel to the lines – As you saw in the video, there are different types of direction of movement. Personally, I like to move my camera parallel with the lines in the scene. If there are more horizontal lines present, I like to move horizontally. Vice versa for vertical lines.

Experiment by combining movements – You can have all kinds of fun by trying different movements at the same time. “Pan & Zoom” or “Zoom & Pan.” Film is cheap these days so have some fun with it!


I’ve really been enjoying following all your iPhone Photography. You are all very creative and I’m thankful you are sharing your part of the world with us. Let’s keep the tradition alive and tag your Instagram photos with #iDBICM hashtag so we can all follow along. I’m looking forward to seeing the unique imagery you make!

Justin Balog is an award winning photographer and filmmaker. You can follow is daily creative adventures at HOSSedia.com or learn more about iPhone Photography in his iBook ‘Big World Little Lens‘. Click Here for the iPad Version. To find out more about Justin, follow him on Twitter and Facebook.