Let the Moment HappenThe overriding idea behind candid photography is taking photos of people with natural expressions and body movements. Models and actors can make nearly any pose or situation look natural, but this isn’t the case with most of the rest of us! When you are taking candid photos minimize giving direction to your subjects. Instead, focus on being ready to take the shot when the right moment happens.
- By far, the most important tip I can give you is to have the camera ready to go. That means it is on, with settings appropriate to the lighting (that means you already have tested your exposure).
- It is always great to get the photo right in when you shoot it, but don’t stress over perfection. If you’re taking photos at an event and have put your camera down for only a moment when you see the perfect moment happening, just pick the camera back up and start shooting. If the shots are a little over or under exposed you can always fix it later (especially if you are shooting in RAW mode); it’s better to have a shot that needs editing than no shot at all. Now many pros will think this is blaspheme. They strive to get everything correct in the camera, but for hobbyists it is ok if you have to do a little correcting on the computer.
- Remember that burst mode is your friend! This will let you capture a series of moments that may be too quick to tell which one will be best at the time it is happening. You can look through the series of images to choose which moment is the best.
Let Them Forget You’re ThereUnless your subjects have come to view your photography as commonplace and can act natural in front of the lens you may want to incorporate a little subterfuge in your candid photography. For starters, it’s usually best to turn off the flash and manually adjust your settings for the correct exposure. You might also want to practice taking photos with your camera at chest level; if subjects don’t see that you’re looking through the viewfinder, they won’t assume you’re shooting. Newer model cameras, and many smart phone cameras, have settings to reduce or eliminate the tell-tale “beep” of a photo being taken. The best candid photos happen when your subjects feel the most comfortable around the camera or don't even know you are there. Remember, a candid portrait usually means the subject is caught in an action and usually isn't looking at the camera. This gives you a chance to be a little sneaky. Here are a few ways I make sure my subjects forget that I am there:
- Stay put for a long time and let the action come to you.
- Pretend you are ignoring what is going on while you are really getting ready to pounce (take a photo) like a cat.
- Be ever-present. By that I mean that your subjects know you are there and know you have a camera...this could take a while for them to get over that, but eventually they will. Be patient.
- Hide...literally. Back into a corner, crouch down, use camouflage...whatever it takes.
Step Back to Add BackgroundCandid photos on canvas are most impactful when they capture a bit of the subject’s actions, whether it’s playing, working, thinking, or any other activity. You can up the impact by stepping back from your subjects to include a background that adds context to the activity. Consider a shot of a young woman with a flower. If your shot is tight on the woman’s upper body you might miss the impact of where she is: in a field, at a farmer’s market, or even a flower market in an exotic locale. Including backgrounds like these can add to the intimacy and meaning of your candid photos on canvas. I can't write a post about candid photos without adding one of my favorite candid photos of one of my favorite people. My Grandma Lil. Love her so much...she is the definition of grandmother when you look it up in the dictionary.
This article is written for Canvas Press. To find out more about Canvas Press’ products visit www.canvaspress.com.