Candid photography is one of the most popular photography trends on social media. But do you know that- it has a long photography history? Yes! It is almost the same age as photography itself. The goal of candid photography is to capture people in their natural state, without them being aware that they are being photographed. This allows the photographer to capture genuine emotions and candid moments that would not be possible if the subject was aware of the camera.
What is Candid Photography?
It is a genre of photography that captures natural, spontaneous, organic moments of the subject. Here, the photography subjects are not intentionally posing for the photography. Maybe they know that a photographer is lurking around or maybe they don’t. But it is the job of the photographer to take as natural images as possible.
Why Does it Matter?
Do you still believe that candid photography means hiding somewhere and secretly taking photos without people’s consent? Candid photography is much more than that. People love to reserve their special events like wedding parties, birthday parties, or graduation ceremonies. Candid photography is the best way to do it. Raw and organic expressions and movements have a different appeal, unlike the conscious poses.
Apart from events, candid photography is also significant in photojournalism, street photography, and wildlife photography to some extent.
Keep reading to get amazing Candid photography tips and tricks to enhance your skill.
Best Camera for Candid Photography
For candid photography, any mirrorless DSLR camera is okay. Going for old-school cameras will not be suitable as you don’t know how many images will be taken. Also, get a lightweight, sleek, small-size camera so that you can roam around without being noticed. It will help you to get natural photos that you yearn after.
The prime lens is ideal for candid photography. It gives you less distortion and many clear images. Along with that, you can go for a telephoto lens. It allows you to take images of distant subjects. In fact, you can use a wide-angle lens when the situation requires. So choosing a lens depends on the context and the subject.
Get a Bounce Flash
You don’t want to catch every eye on you with a bright flash. So it is a complete NO for candid photography. Here you need a flash that will provide you with adequate light without making people distracted. That is why you can think of investing in a bounce flash. It aims at the light about 45 degrees upward. Thus the place gets a natural-looking light. Also, the light is equally distributed in the room. For candid pictures, a bounce flash is inevitable.
Tripod is a Must-have
The importance of a tripod is not alien to anyone. You cannot think of stable photography without a tripod. It makes the process easier and hassle-free. Most importantly, it gives you clear images in low light. As the low light tends to make images blurry and grainy, a tripod saves you from it.
For candid photography at the wedding party, birthday parties, or other events, never leave your tripod at home.
The Diffuser as a Savior
Along with the bounce flash, the diffuser helps you with lighting. It does the job of unobtrusive photography. However, a diffuser is made of plastic or other transparent material that covers the flash. Also, it makes the light soft and evenly distributed.
For candid photography, the diffuser helps you to light the area properly while keeping the process unnoticed by people.
Backup Battery and Memory Card
For a candid photographer, it’s essential to carry an extra battery, charger, and memory card. You never know when the right moment will appear in front of you. And you certainly don’t want to miss it. Discovering that the battery is dead in the photogenic moment is a horror. So to avoid such occurrences, carry a backup battery and charger.
Also, candid photography means taking lots of images. If you don’t have enough space available, you are going to miss the candid moments.
Keep the Camera Ready
For a perfect candid shot, your camera must be ready all the time. ‘Keeping the camera ready’ means adjusting the settings. Typically there are no hard and fast rules that you must follow. Still, some changes in the settings can give you better photos.
Firstly, keep the shutter speed high so that you can capture a moving object. Along with that, keep the ISO low to reduce noise in the images. Secondly, keep the depth of field reduced to blur the unnecessary background. Finally, if you get low light, use the aperture priority mode.
Keep your Eyes Engaged
To get a perfect candid moment, you need to use your eyes as a tool. Keep it engaged to detect a candid shot. You never know what is going to happen. That is why go to places that are filled with actions. If you are about to capture candid moments from the streets, your eyes will lead you towards it. So don’t underestimate the power of your eyes.
Focus on the Angle
Angles drastically change the outlook of the photo. It means the position of the camera in relation to the subject. For candid images too, you can try this trick. Experiment with different angles and see what is working the best for you. It is related to the photography composition.
However, candid photography does not mean you have to take images unmindfully. So focusing on the angles will help you get professional quality candid images.
Use the Burst mode
Timing is crucial for candid photography. You cannot be sure about what is coming next. So using the burst mode can save your day. It means- that instead of taking a single photo at a time, your camera will continue to take multiple images without break. With it, you don’t need to worry about when to press the shutter button. That is why the burst mode is more convenient for candid photography.
Try Different Perspectives
Many new photographers tend to underestimate the importance of perspective in photography. In fact, sometimes, it gets a bit confusing. In simple words, perspective means the spatial aspect of photography.
We see the world in three dimensions but the images are two-dimensional. The perspective in the photos gives depth, making it look more natural. In candid photography, it can play a pretty active role in making or breaking the photos. So experiment with different perspectives to present the candid images more organically.
Instead of using a zoom lens, go closer to the subjects. It is a game-changing method when you are in an event taking candid photographs. The zoom lens will make you more noticeable. Consequently, the guests may get aware of the fact that you are taking their images. So the best solution is to go closer and take candid photos as naturally as possible.
Make them Aware
Sometimes, the guests are happy to give you candid images. In that case, they will help you get good photos. So you can ask them nicely whether they want to do it or not. Also, you can make them aware that you are taking candid images. In that case, they can sometimes be funny or interesting to give you the best photos.
Blend Yourself in the Crowd
Another strategy you can use for candid photography is to blend yourself in with the crowd. It’s the easiest method yet super effective. You only need to blend in those places which are action-packed. For example- at a wedding party, the cake cutting moment is one of the most existing parts. For a candid photographer, it can be the biggest opportunity to get some amazing and natural candid photos.
Carry Minimal Gears
Carrying minimal gears makes you less noticeable. If you carry a big camera bag with lots of gear, people will immediately recognize you as a photographer. As a result, you may lose a great deal of good candid moments. So adjust yourself to work with minimal gears. It will help you in both street photography and event photography.
Mistakes are Okay
You have to accept that every candid image is not going to be perfect. In fact, you may get only a few good ones out of hundred photos. Also, you may find that some pictures have little flaws like a blurry spot or other things. These are little beauties of a candid picture. Besides, the mistakes make the candid image more natural and organic.
Make Yourself Approachable
As a candid photographer, make yourself approachable. If you are friendly towards people, they are going to give you good images. You can ask a stranger nicely to give you a candid pose in street photography and they will be happy to do it. Being humble and gentle will help you to blend in situations that are full of laughter and action.
Be Comfortable with Grains
Candid photography in streets can have some grains. They don’t reduce the beauty of the photos. In fact, those grains make the photo look natural and spontaneous. Also, aesthetically they are as good as any grain-less image. So don’t go through the post-production to remove all the grains from the photo.
Focus on a story to Tell
To take candid photography to the next level, focus on telling a story through it. You can do it by observing what is happening around the location. Keep a sharp eye around you to get a story to present. For example- you may notice that some children are going to school and along with them, some less privileged ones are not going to school. Such thoughtful contrast will help you to tell a story.
Take Maximum Image Possible
In candid photography, it is not wise to take the minimum amount of photos. Instead, you should go for taking as many photos as you can. That is why we have suggested using the burst mode. Taking lots of images gives you the chance to choose which the best ones are. Otherwise, you may have to regret it later
Scout the Location
It is another essential part of candid photography. Before you choose a location, scout it first. Roam around and see what activities are most common there are. You may find something interesting in the process. Then you can be prepared for the photography. Without proper knowledge of the location, candid photography will be time-consuming and often failed.
Search for Laughter
If you are capturing candid photos of events like birthdays, anniversaries, or other social events, search for laughter. People look the best when they laugh naturally. It can be a good chance to capture raw emotion. Also, they will love the candid images later. So at events, don’t miss the chance to capture the laughter and the true joy of people.
Read Body Language
For candid wedding photography, it is pretty crucial to read body language. As a photographer, you can help the couple to pose as naturally as possible. Couples surely want to have some amazing candid photos but sometimes their poses look fake and awkward. To avoid that, you can guide them. It will make the photography session a lot more enjoyable and most importantly the images will be stunning
Focus on Small Details
Candid photography may sound hasty and rushed. But that is not the case. In fact, if you become a little thoughtful, the photos will be phenomenal. So, you should focus on small details before pushing the shutter button. For example- you can concentrate on people’s emotions, any special stuff like a wedding ring or tiara or other things. These small details will make the candid photography true to life and reasonable.
Recreate the Scene Guiltlessly
Here is another clever trick. If you get a striking or interesting moment but fail to capture it, you can go for recreation. It is mostly possible at a social event. Sometimes the recreated moment becomes more beautiful than the previous one. So getting a real candid moment does not mean it has to be ‘real’ all the time. You don’t even need to feel guilty for faking the moment. It is a part of this photography genre.
Use Motion Blur
Motion blur is a great technique for candid photography. The famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was known for his use of motion blur in candid photography. Candid photos are not altogether meant to be super sharp with clear surroundings. To highlight the background, you can go for motion blur. For that, you need to use a slow shutter speed which will blur the foreground and make the background clear
Shoot from the Hip Level
Shooting from the hip level is not great for only candid photos. It makes the subject’s height and size natural. In candid photography, shooting from the hip level is extra beneficial. Firstly there are fewer chances that you will be noticed. Secondly, it gives you a better composition. Capturing smaller objects like children is the only way to get good images. In street photography, shooting from the hip level makes the scene more organic and living.
Focus on the Repetitive Action
Sometimes you can get repetitive action that can give you natural candid images. For example, in tennis playing, some actions frequently happen. So you can wait for the repetition and take the image once you get it. Such occurrences are also common in parks where the children play. You have to detect the moment in the first place and then go for capturing the image.
Choose Some ‘Candid’ Poses
At a wedding or other events, you can ask the subjects to give some candid poses. Many candid poses look natural and raw. They bring out the emotion and show their relationship. Also, going for a fake pose gives you a graceful image. However, you can apply this trick to other events as well. The point is to make the subjects comfortable and less awkward. So the ‘candid’ poses help them to be more comfortable with the camera.
Go for Natural Poses
Fake ‘candid’ poses help you in some situations. But sometimes the client demands real candid images. These can be family photos or baby photos. Here it is not reasonable to go for fabricated moments. Instead, you should focus on the natural poses of the subjects. Try to capture their real expression, laughter, body movements, etc. natural poses with real expression make a perfect candid image that the family will adore for their lifetime. So as a candid photographer, you can help them with that.
In conclusion, candid photography is a unique and captivating form of photography that captures unplanned, spontaneous moments and emotions. It allows for a more natural and genuine representation of subjects and their surroundings, and can be used to tell a story or convey a message in a more authentic way. While it may require some patience and quick reflexes, the end result is often worth it, providing a candid and unfiltered look at the world.