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8 Figure Skating Photography Tips (Ice Skating Photos)

Last updated: November 12, 2023 - 6 min read
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If you’re looking to take your figure skating photography skills up a notch, look no further. Here are eight tips to help you capture the beauty and grace of figure skating in photos like a pro.

8. Figure Skating Photography: 8 Ways to Use a Zoom Lens to Get Rid of Distractions

Beautiful figure skating photography of a couple dancing on the iceIf you’re shooting indoors, you’re not the only one in the building. All the surrounding colors, people, and objects can make it difficult to take appealing photos of the skaters.

To avoid this, use a zoom lens. This will allow you to crop out distractions without compromising the quality of your image.

This is also a much better alternative to cropping your photos.

Keep in mind that telephoto/zoom lenses don’t work quickly in low light. You’ll have to compensate for that by increasing your ISO and using a larger aperture.

If you don’t have a zoom lens, try to sit as close to the rink as possible. You can use a prime lens to take sharp photos in low light. You can also use wide-angle lenses to take atmospheric photos.

7. Adjust Your Camera Settings Beforehand to Avoid Losing Key Moments

Outdoor skating photography of a group of people on the ice
Camera settings are more specific in figure skating photography than in other genres. Once you feel more comfortable with them, you’ll be able to capture the right moments without stressing yourself out.

If you’re shooting in a building with a fixed light, you need to adjust accordingly.

To sharply capture movements, use a large aperture (at least f/2.8) and a fast shutter speed (e.g. 1/1000).

The faster your shutter speed, the darker your image will be. To compensate for this, increase your ISO. As long as you don’t use an extremely large number, you won’t ruin your photos with grain.

Never use a flash as it will distract the skaters and give you unflattering results.

Most importantly, shoot in RAW for high-quality results and a smoother editing process.

6. Move Around to Experiment With Different Kinds of Light

Beautiful figure skating photography of the silhouette of a female skater on the ice

You should be able to move around. This will let you work with as many kinds of light as possible.

In the image above, the photographer shot against a source of light to create an elegant silhouette. To re-create this, make sure there’s no light in front of, or next to, your model. The only light source should be backlight.

You can also use direct light for striking portraits and side light for mysterious photos.

The only way to find your favorite (s) is to experiment with all of these and ones you come up with on your own.

5. Keep an Eye on Your White Balance to Avoid Unflattering Colors

A close up of an ice skaters feet Indoor figure skating centers don’t always have the best lighting available. Many of them are made to flatter the entire stage, not the subjects. This means that you might have to work with bright, warm colors or very cool tones.

To make the most of any lighting, manually adjust your color temperature. Most modern cameras offer a custom temperature tool that you can slide back and forth to balance out any colors.

If this isn’t enough, you can alter the colors further in an editing program. Lightroom is many photographers’ go-to for problematic color temperatures.

You can edit the hue, saturation, and luminance of every color in your image. This is perfect for removing vibrant distractions or making your subject’s outfit stand out more.

4. Zoom Out for an Atmospheric Landscape View

n outdoor ice skating rink beneath tall skyscrapers Outdoor figure skating is perfect for atmospheric and meaningful photos. By zooming out, you’ll give your model a chance to skate without worrying about awkward poses or expressions.

It will also give you the opportunity to photograph landscapes or cityscapes. For everything to be in focus, use a small aperture like f/11.

Make sure the lighting evenly hits everything so that you don’t have to keep adjusting your exposure. Cloudy or gloomy days are ideal for this.

3. Photograph the Dancers’ Faces and Outfits to Capture Details

lose up of a skater tying the laces on their ice-skates There’s much more to figure skating than the act itself. You can focus on details, like a skater’s shoes, to tell a deeper story and make your photos look more alive.

You can use this an excuse to improve your closeup, makeup, and macro photography skills.

If you want to take it further, you can even document the entire figure skating experience: preparations (makeup and outfit), warmups before the show, skating on the rink, accepting gifts, etc.

Having a variety of photos will make your portfolio more interesting. And it will give you access to unique perspectives that wouldn’t have been available without a little curiosity.

2.  Take Intentionally Blurry Photos to Create Abstract Art

Blurry figure skating photography of a female skater twirling on the iceMotion blur is a handy technique in photography genres that involve a lot of movement. It can help you guide the viewer’s eye, create a sense of movement, and create smooth compositions.

Most images that feature motion blur tend to be abstract. Depending on your approach, you can create selective or complete motion blur.

  • The panning technique involves moving your camera with your subject at the same time. This means you have to know, beforehand, where the figure skater will be going. This will keep the skater in focus and blur out everything else. Oftentimes, the blur will resemble paintbrush strokes.
  • For completely abstract pictures, use a slow shutter speed so that your camera captures a series of motions over a long period of time. This will result in an elegant blur of movements similar to the ones in the image above.

1. Photograph the Easier Poses for More Flattering Results

Cool ice skating photography of a female skater twirling on the ice
Dancing and skating are sports that require intense focus. Looking pretty isn’t always a priority.

Some skating moves are more intense than others. Your model might end up cringing or looking surprised when you least expect them to.

If you want every part of your image to look appealing, take photos of simple poses and moves. The more comfortable your subject is, the easier it will be for them to smile and look relaxed in your pictures.

You can memorize a few figure skating posing guides and lingo. That way you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.


Skating photography might seem like a difficult genre to master. It’s actually easy to get comfortable with it.

As long as you keep practicing and using the right equipment, you’ll get the hang of this fun photography style in no time.