One of my favorite parts about using flash in the studio is the ability to freeze motion. In this video, I’ll be walking through how to capture these incredible dance portraits.

Video: How to Freeze Motion Using Off-Camera Flash

What You’ll Need to Freeze Motion

  1. A high-resolution camera. A 30-45mp camera like the Canon EOS R5 will work great.
  2. A wide angle lens such as the RF 28-70mm f/2L.
  3. Off-camera flashes. I’ll be using two Westcott FJ400‘s with the beauty dish and umbrella.
  4. Any regular colored fabric from your local fabric store.

Before we jump in, give our dancer, Sabrina, a follow on Instagram here!


My composition is very wide to make sure all the movement gets captured in the frame. You might get objects around the frame, however, this can be fixed in post. A high resolution camera is useful here as we have more flexibility when cropping to our desired composition later.

Ambient Light

To freeze motion, I want to nix all the ambient light in the studio. The shutter speed is important here because a slower shutter speed may cause “ghosting.” This is when the ambient light mixes with flash and creates unwanted blur. I maxed out my flash shutter speed at 1/200 seconds, f/7.1, at ISO 800.

Modify/Add Light

My key light is the FJ400 on camera left. I attached a shoot thru umbrella to create a large bounce from the umbrella but the white wall behind it as well. I placed the second FJ400 on the other side with a beauty dish. This light will add a little kick on Sabrina.

freeze motion flash duration
Higher power outputs increase recycle time, causing inconsistent lighting during bursts.

Here are a couple tips when using flash to freeze motion:

  1. One of the benefits of a high powered flash is the ability to power down. Powering down reduces the “recycle time.” At high power and high frame rate, the flash can’t keep up. When I reduce it, its able to give me consistent light with each frame.
  2. The higher the power of a flash, the longer the “Flash Duration” will be. Even though the flash is still incredibly fast, it can still cause some unwanted blur. A lower power has a much shorter flash duration, guaranteeing tack sharp action images.

Related Reading: What is Flash Duration and Why Does it Matter?


freeze motion dancer
Edited with Visual Flow > Crush Presets

Now that we have all of our settings, let’s take some action shots!


I hope you enjoyed this article/video on how to freeze motion. Take these tips and try out your own action photography! To learn more about what you can do with flash, check out the Flash Photography Training Course on SLR Lounge Premium. You can also visit Visual Flow for a full library of Lightroom presets and retouching tools.

Don’t miss our next episode of Mastering Your Craft on Adorama’s YouTube channel next week! If you want to catch up on all the episodes, make sure you check out our playlist!