Candid photography captures people in their most natural state. Unposed, real, and unknowing that a camera is there. Candid photography shows people in their natural habitats doing everyday things. This type of photography is fun, emotional, and storytelling, and tugs on our heartstrings.
Improve With These Candid Photography Tips
Candid photography is far more reliant on technique than on settings – because the settings will always change drastically depending on the location, situation, and personal aesthetic. Here are the top seven tips for great candid photography.
1. Take Your Camera Everywhere
I mean it. Take your camera everywhere you go! You never know what beautiful moment can unfold right before your eyes on a casual outing. This is where smaller and mirrorless cameras are very useful. They tend to be easier to carry in a bag than traditional DSLRs.
That being said, if you don’t have a proper camera on you, the camera you do have on you is alright too! Whip out your phone and capture something splendid. Candid moments are fleeting. If you’re ready and able to take them, you’ve just immortalized a story.
2. Silent Shooting Mode
You never want your photography to interfere with what is happening. Set the camera to Silent Shooting Mode so that your shutter sounds aren’t distracting your subjects (or giving away that you’re photographing).
Make note that silent shooting mode is not available for certain conditions, such as extremely low light or super fast shutter speeds.
3. Telephoto and Zoom Lenses
Zoom lenses are optics that can adjust their focal length to go in and out (effectively zooming on your subject). Telephoto lenses are long lenses that can remind you of a bit of a telescope. These lenses can zoom you very close to your subject! Telephoto lenses allow you to sit far back and capture subjects as if you were right next to them.
Zoom and telephoto lenses are popular with animal and sports photographers, but they have an added bonus in candid photography. These lenses allow you to shoot from so far away that you are not interfering with what is happening (and can often shoot incognito).
This is prime for candid photography because that is how you can capture organic shots.
4. Don’t Influence the Story
Don’t influence the story by forcing people into a candid moment, as tempting as it may be. You can tell that this is forced in the photograph. Let the story play out naturally!
5. Lock On To the Eyes
Eyes are the windows to the soul – and the part of the body we psychologically empathize with the most. A great photograph causes the audience to develop a relationship with the subject, and the eyes being perfectly in focus is a surefire way to do this.
Make sure that your focus mode is on Single Point (or Spot in some brands) Focus – this means that the camera will focus on whatever area you tell it to! You will need to line up the little black square that appears in your viewfinder over the eyes, and that is it.
6. Be Patient and Observe
Patience is really the name of the game when it concerns candid photography. Candid moments don’t just happen when you want them to. You have to be a bit like a lion stalking a gazelle – wait for the right moment to strike (or, in this case, snap a photo)!
Observing your subjects and how they behave can give much insight into what candid moments you will photograph. Being able to anticipate the action based on your observations is extremely helpful in candid photography. Look for repetition in behavior (such as a child blowing balloons) and natural cues (such as laughing at a joke).
7. If You’re a Street Photographer, Shoot From the Hip
If you capture candid street photographs, you’ll want to ensure your subjects don’t see you shooting. A popular trick amongst those in this niche is shooting from the hip.
You do this by holding the camera at your waist and capturing images without looking at the viewfinder. Act casual when doing so.
This requires practice, as you must know what you can capture based on where the camera is angled. Using a wide-angle lens is recommended because you can capture a large scene and crop right in! Less room for error.
Candid photography is truly the art of photography. By utilizing the above 7 tips, you can take your work to the next level.