Deliberately moving your camera during an exposure can result in abstract, often painterly, pictures that provide a fresh take on everyday subjects and scenes. Autumn woodland can be reduced to a wash of colour, for example, while bands of blue sky and golden sand take on the appearance of thick brush strokes. The technique is known as intentional camera movement (ICM), and it has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the availability of digital cameras.

To master ICM, you need to make any movement of the camera purposeful, otherwise the result looks like camera shake. You can use a tripod, but you will enjoy greater freedom by handholding your equipment.

  1. Before you embark on a session of ICM, look at other photographers who have mastered the art. Ted Leeming and Morag Paterson, for instance, have some fine examples on their website at
  2. ICM requires very little equipment, but a camera (or phone) with adjustable shutter speed is a must. If you can manually control the exposure, that’s also a boon. When it comes to lenses, there are no limitations.
  3. If a low ISO and a small aperture are not enough to register any motion as a blur, try attaching a neutral density filter to the front of your lens. As a general guide, aim for exposures of 1/20sec or longer.
  4. Try moving the camera from side to side, up and down, or just randomly jiggling it about. You can also experiment with rotating the zoom ring on your lens during the exposure, or rotating the camera 360°.