Professionally, I am a wedding photographer but street photography has always been my first love. And probably because of this, I have a candid style when photographing weddings.
A candid photo simply means that I’m taking photos of my clients while they are in the moment, without posing or staging any shots. It captures the natural moments and emotions that allow me to tell the story of the wedding day in a more meaningful way.
The same ethos can be applied to any kind of candid photography. Here are some practical tips if you’re starting out in candid photography. Follow these tips and hone your skills.
- Blending with the Environment and Observation: The number one rule for candid photography is to blend into the environment and observe your subjects without drawing attention. This may not be easy for most people. Don’t be flashy with your clothing, mannerisms, or gear that attracts attention. Use a small camera or lens. Arrive early at your shoot location so that you can calm down mentally and be able to observe properly. Pay attention to people’s body language, facial expressions, and interactions to anticipate and capture genuine moments.
- Shooting from the Hip: I am personally not a big fan of taking photos from the hip but I know many new photographers feel comfortable using this technique. Experiment with shooting from the hip or waist level without looking through the viewfinder. Shooting from a lower vantage point can offer unique and interesting perspectives. When you’re shooting in crowded areas or capturing the world from a different perspective, this can give your compositions a fresh perspective. Along with unique angles, it helps in maintaining an unposed, natural feel. Make sure you practice framing and focusing to increase your odds of getting a well-composed picture.
- Utilize Burst Mode: Taking the perfect candid shot can be challenging since moments often happen within a fraction of a second. The burst mode can be a handy option when you are starting out. This increases the likelihood of capturing the desired moment with the right expressions and gestures. As you gather experience, you will develop a knack for nailing the right moment.
- Find your Focal Length: Selecting the appropriate focal length can significantly impact your candid shots. And there is no one focal length that is best for candid photography. Every focal length has a distinct perspective. A wide-angle lens can capture a broader scene and add context, while a telephoto lens allows you to maintain distance and capture intimate moments discreetly. Experiment with different focal lengths to achieve the desired effect.
- Pre-focus for Quick Reaction: Put your camera on continuous autofocus (AF-C) and pre-focus on the area where you anticipate an action or subject to occur. By using this technique, you minimize the chance of missing a shot due to focusing delays when the moment unfolds. Make sure you adjust the focus settings on your camera to match your shooting environment and the action you’re hoping to capture. Also, be sure to keep an eye on your focus settings, as they can easily be changed accidentally.
- Capture Details and Gestures: The objective of candid photography is to capture the genuine emotions and gestures of the subjects. Pay attention to hand movements, facial expressions, and interactions between people. These small moments can help you craft a compelling story and add depth to your photographs.
- Use Natural Light: Natural light creates a more authentic and flattering atmosphere for candid photography. Play with the light and shadows to add a creative perspective. Avoid using flash or artificial lighting that may draw attention or alter the natural ambiance. Make sure you are in an area that has good light, for example, near a window or outside.
- Embrace the Chaos: Most candid moments are spontaneous and full of action. All such moments happen in chaos. So embrace chaos and capture the energy of the moment. Don’t be afraid of imperfect compositions or blurred motion. Sometimes these elements can enhance your photographs’ authenticity and dynamism.
- Experiment: Don’t stick to eye-level shots. Try shooting from different angles and perspectives to add visual interest and variety to your candid photographs. Shoot from above, down low, or find vantage points that offer a fresh viewpoint. Experiment a lot as it will help you develop your own style of photography.
- Respect Privacy and Laws: Although candid photography aims to capture natural moments, it’s essential to respect people’s privacy and obtain consent when necessary. There are laws related to photography and using cameras. Before taking pictures of people, always ask for permission. It’s important to follow copyright laws, as well as local and federal laws regarding photography. Finally, always remain aware of the subject’s comfort level.
The art of candid photography requires lots of practice, patience, and the ability to capture fleeting moments. You can enhance your candid photography skills by incorporating these tips into your approach and creating compelling images that capture the essence of the moment.
With practice and focus, your candid photography will improve, allowing you to produce powerful and dynamic images that capture the essence of the scene. Only by experimenting and practicing can you improve your photography skills, no matter how many tips you read. So keep that in mind.