Kinetic photography is a moving type of photography that attempts to channel chaos into beauty. The results differ incredibly and are often quite spectacular.

Considering the inclusion of the word kinetic, it is no wonder that this type of photography uses motion. Camera tossing is the most common form of kinetic photography. This growing group of courageous and crazy photographers has learned that by throwing their cameras into the air with an open shutter, they can achieve some wonderfully interesting photos.

Safe mode

The headline here is a bit of a contradiction. Throwing your camera in the air is never going to be a “safe” way to spend an afternoon, but this method is the least likely to end in.

Firstly, you’ll want be extra sure that your camera’s strap is secure. Now that you’ve tested your strap twice, check it again to make certain it isn’t going anywhere. Next, adjust your settings so that your exposure is long enough to keep your shutter open for the duration of the swing, and make sure everything else limits the incoming light enough to not result in a completely overblown photo with little to no detail at all.

Firmly holding your strap, click the button and let her fly. You can swing, toss, twirl, shake or any mixture of these methods to create some wildly varied results. Experiment a little bit to see all the different options and what you prefer.

Another even safer option is to cheat by using a tripod and proceed to spin or shake your subject. One particular photographer claimed that he used this method and simply shook some Christmas lights during a lengthy exposure. The result was brilliant and in no way inferior to “the real thing”.

Extreme mode

Some particularly passionate members of the camera-tossing community claim that it’s not really camera tossing unless your camera is airborne and strapless. Obviously, this method requires excellent hand-eye coordination, someone experienced in the art of catching wildly moving flying objects with a bit of a fearless streak.

Concentrate on flipping the camera in various directions to create results that you couldn’t get by holding the camera and rotating it around.

Things to consider

Lighting is obviously going to play a huge role in the quality of your final results. Many experienced kinetic photographers recommend starting out in a fairly dark room. Try varying your light sources to see what works best. Start with a single light source and slowly introduce more complexity while monitoring and adjusting your setup to fit your desired result.

Once you’ve mastered the technique in controlled indoor environments, explore outdoors and hunt for locations that will provide you with satisfying results.

Another good idea to keep things safe is to create a soft, well-cushioned place for the camera to land. Try standing over a couch or bed on your first few attempts. Even a soft landing could jar your camera’s finer components but at least you’ll be better off than on a hard wood floor.

Although many that attempt to create a kinetic photograph seem to get lucky on the first try, don’t expect to produce astonishing results in your first few minutes. It might take lots of time and experimentation to determine what works best with the camera you’re using.