Why you should be taking candid photos.
If you ever want to kill the mood of a photo, just shout “say cheese!”, that ought to do it. Candid photos are much more natural, people are relaxed, and they add context to a photo. This post will provide you with the knowledge to take relaxed, fun and natural photos of people without them even knowing about it.
1 – Lose the Flash
Using a flash is a dead giveaway, if you want to go unseen, widen your aperture and raise your ISO. This will allow you to take well exposed photos in low light conditions, such as indoors. I recommend an ISO of about 400, and you can widen the aperture as much as you want; it’ll give your photos a nice shallow depth of field which means the focus will be on the subject rather then the surroundings.
2 – Carry your Camera Everywhere
If you want to get good photos, you have to actually take your camera out of the house, especially when it comes to shooting candid photos. You’ll start to feel more comfortable with it, rather then not, and the process of taking photos of strangers will become second nature and not something you fear anymore. When I first started carrying my camera everywhere, I ended up with a lot of photos of the pub, but my photos improved dramatically.
3 – Be Patient
Waiting is an important part of getting a good photo; wait for that perfect smile, or for your subject to turn to you. In the photo below, I was working on a corporate job and had my camera on the man on the right for about 10 seconds while he was looking away. As soon as he turned his head, I snapped the shot and got one of my best photos of the weekend.
4- Use a Telephoto Lens
If you’ve got one, then this is a great way to go unnoticed. You can stand really far away and still capture the subject as if you were up close. Telephoto lenses also force the perspective onto your subject, which makes it less about the scene and more about the person, which is why they’re often used for portraits.
5 – Add Context
Without context, photos lack depth. I like to position my subjects to the left of right of the frame to show some of where they are or what they’re doing. Another great way to add context is to shoot through the environment that they’re in, like trees or people. Have a look at the photo below, it gives you a really good idea as to what they’re doing,
6 – Shoot from the Hip
If you're worried about being seen taking photos of someone who may not what to have their photo taken, try shooting with your camera at hip hight. This gives a new, different perspective on a situation that you won't be used to and adds to the 'candid' feel of the photo. Try using live view to compose a shot at first if you're ending up with a lot of bad photos.
7 – Keep Quiet and Blend in
This is especially important if you're working on a corporate job as it's best to go unnoticed so that you don't distract from the main event. Move slowly and quietly, and blend in by wearing similar clothes to the people you will be taking photos of. Another good tip is to use live view on your camera where possible; this lifts the shutter up before the photo is taken so the sound of the exposure is a lot quieter.
8 – Catch People in the Moment
In this photo below, a friend walked into a festival office, sat down on a box of t-shirts exhausted, put his hands on his head and rocked his head back. I brought up my film camera, composed the shot and took it as soon as he looked back at me. The result is a photo which captures the emotion of just how tired he was, while the people holding stuff up on the left and right add the context of how busy it was there. Capturing people in the moment provide the best results and details of what's going on in a photo.
9 – Move Around you Subjects
If you're taking a photo of someone candidly, you can't exactly ask them move to create a better composition. It's also pointless asking them to look natural, as that creates the most awkward shots of all. Get up and walk around your subjects until you have them positioned how you'd like and then take the photo. A set of photos all taken from the same seat can be pretty boring and predictable so movement helps to change things up.
10 – Shoot in Burst Mode
People are unpredictable, and you only get one chance when taking a candid photo so shoot lots; you'll be surprised at what you'll find. I often end up with something fun and spontaneous and shooting in burst mode will increase your chances of getting that perfect shot.