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Timing in Photography - How to Take Candid Photos

by | | Advice

candid photos on canvas A candid photo is any photo of a person taken in the moment without deliberate posing and ideally without the subject appearing to be aware of the camera’s presence. While candid photos are growing in popularity, they remain one of the more challenging forms of photography. Recognizing that in photography timing is everything is the first step to getting the best candid photos on canvas. These tips will help you understand how to take candid photos that will look great.

Finding and Anticipating the Decisive Moment

The decisive moment is that moment when all of the elements in a photo from the subject’s facial expression to the background action align just as the shutter clicks and an image is taken. This involves a combination of luck and skill. The skill comes in by being able to predict when that decisive moment will happen based on what the subject(s) are doing at a given time and in continuing to shoot before, during, and after the moment. candid photos on canvas

What Makes a Great Candid Portrait?

To get great candid photos on canvas you first have to Know what a great candid portrait looks like. Educate yourself on photos you have seen in magazines or online (like Pinterest). What draws you to them? Here are just a few example scenarios that can make for fantastic candid photos.
  • A child or person in deep thought. Especially in interesting light or backdrop.
  • Capturing someone laughing. When someone tilts there head back in laughter you capture a joyous part of them.
  • An emotional moment such as a wedding. A father or mother wiping away tears of joy.

Practice Your Timing in Photography – With or Without a Camera in Hand

Observing people, with or without a camera in hand, is the best way to learn how to anticipate the perfect moment to take candid photos. Exercises that can help you build your ability to anticipate the moment include:
  • When you are out and about in public spaces, whether it’s on the train or at lunch with friends or colleagues, think about when and where you would take a shot.
  • Watch people to practice predicting what they will do next and where the peak action is so that you have a better feel for when to click the shutter when you do have a camera in hand.
  • Look for people who are deeply involved in conversation, thought, or other activities that distract them from the surrounding world and work out how to take a candid photo based on the situation.
  • On occasions you want to make absolutely sure that you get the shots you want for your photos on canvas, using the burst shooting mode on your camera can give you an added layer of security by providing successive photos that are more likely to capture the right elements.

Position Yourself Outside of the Subject’s Immediate Space

When you do have your camera in hand, people tend to be hyper aware of any photos being taken. To combat this you can get your subjects used to your camera by having it out for an extended period but this may mean that you miss out on candid shots early in a shooting opportunity. A different way to help people “forget” your camera is to step outside of their immediate space. Even if you’re only a few feet away, the added space between your subject and the camera lens helps your subject feel less like the center of attention, and therefore more natural – and ready for great candid shots. candid photos on canvas candid photos on canvas

candid photos on canvasCandid photos can have a lot of meaning too. This is one of my favorite photos of my mom and brother sharing a laugh. It is a great reminder of the great times we have as a family.

This article is written for Canvas Press. To find out more about Canvas Press’ products visit