6 Tips for Beautiful Candid Photography

Candid photography focuses on what the subject is naturally doing and not on what the subject must be doing. It is a photo similar to that of a stolen shot. Most images taken in candid photography are of people not looking directly at the camera. Read on for five helpful tips to successfully snap a candid photo:

candid street photography

“And the beat goes on…” captured by Sarah Horrigan

1. Always Carry Your Camera

Bringing cameras along with you as you go about your everyday routine will help you take better candid pictures. You must be alert to any situation and be very observant about what is happening in your immediate surroundings. Taking candid pictures is naturally easy, but you can’t take a second picture that looks like the first one, because every moment is unique. So when you see an opportunity to take candid shots, focus on that, and then click the shutter. Point and then shoot must be the initial reaction.

candid photo

“Behind You” captured by Tom

2. Avoid Complicated Lighting Techniques

Using complicated lighting techniques is not always advisable when taking candid photos. Always remember that having a perfect photo is not really necessary. What is important is for the photo to capture real-life, unscripted shots.

candid color photography

“Street Candid, Canterbury” captured by Chris Beckett

3. Blend In With the Environment

Taking candid pictures requires great discipline. This is because it requires the photographer to blend in with the environment. Candid photographers should not be too obvious if they want to produce the most unscripted shots of frozen moments. Take photos without holding the camera up to your eye as often as possible. For example, you could put the camera near your waist to take the shot. This will also help you to see the pictures from another angle.

4. Use a Long Lens

Using the camera’s fullest zoom will also help you get a good, candid photo. As long as you are not seen, the subject will act naturally. When you are a fair distance away from the subject, you can use the telephoto lens. Avoid taking pictures of people’s backs.

black and white candid photography

“Look Out!” captured by Magdalena Roeseler

5. Capture the Subject in Black & White

Converting the picture to black and white is another great idea, because it will help you capture the subject’s emotion. Taking pictures of people who are doing things or are in constant motion is the best situation for taking candid shots. Capturing the essence of a person’s task in black and white will emphasize the emotion on the subject’s face.

candid portrait

“Candid Street Portrait, Man from Peru” captured by Peter McConnochie

6. Ask for Permission

Never forget to ask permission when appropriate. Although for some shots it is okay not to, asking for permission is always a safe and appropriate decision. This will prevent conflict and intrusion of someone’s right to privacy.

candid moment

“It’s All About Love” captured by Candida.Performa

The best way of capturing a candid picture is to experiment often. Explore everything, try every angle, and don’t forget to look at other photographers’ work for inspiration.

About the Author:
This article was written by Patricia Strasser from Foto TV. It was founded in 2007 by Marc Ludwig and is headquartered in Cologne.

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7 responses to “6 Tips for Beautiful Candid Photography”

  1. Mahdyieh says:

    hello, thanks for article. Good luck.

  2. Sara Roberts says:

    I always felt shy about asking for permission while taking candid shots but ultimately those shots ruined the impact. So I take my shot and then show them for permission to use them. I always carry some copies of model release so that they give me permission for the photos to be used. Some are good enough to permit me while some do ask me for some bucks to use them. Your article laid out the tips perfectly. Will use them to improve my skills.

  3. Kim Fyson says:

    I find using a wide-angle lens on a small, compact camera preferable to a long lens on a DSLR. This way you can get in close and blend in with the environment often using just a small portion of the frame in the final composition. This way often the subjects will not even be aware you are photographing them, especially if you feign interest in something else in nearby.

  4. Stan says:

    You write that the photographer should never take a picture of people’s backs, then your last shot is of a couple shot at their backs. Nice consistency there.

  5. DP says:

    Reply to Stan:

    If you had spent the time to read the article properly you would have understood that avoiding taking photos of peoples’ backs refers to when using a telephoto lens.

  6. Howard says:

    I love taking candid shots. At campdrafts i used to concentrate on the action in the camp and the draft where I nearly always lay on the ground getting lowdown, more dramatic shots, while everyone else was above the rails or in the stands. After a while there was a similar look to these images, so I decided to focus on the people, both the participants and the onlookers, families etc.. And also at country races.
    The biggest problem in Australia is the strong sunlight and the harsh upper shadows on faces from the ubiquitous cowboy hats.
    Plenty of weather beaten faces. I have won a few club and competition honours.
    For street candid another handy technique is to hold the camera, with at waist level as you walk, auto-focus and either aperture or shutter priority, even continuous frame, and simply press the button. The sony articulating screen can be great too as you can have it set so you can get a peep of the composition just before you shoot. Even look away from the subject while firing off the shots.
    My Zenfolil is still very much a work-in-progress as I haven’t kept it up to date. :(

  7. Chris Woakes says:

    In DSLR I see the use of wide angle lenses in a small, compact camera that is desirable for long lenses. This way you can get closer to the environment by using a small portion of the frame in the final setting. Often you will not know how to photograph subjects in this way, especially if you are interested in something else nearby.

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