Candid Photography: Top Tips For Capturing Natural Moments

shutterstock_159161105Have you ever been in the middle of posing for a photograph when the photographer told you to “act natural”?  It can be tough to act natural when you are told to, and even tougher when you have people staring at you.  In this situation, the photographer’s goal was, most likely, to try to achieve a candid photograph.

If you are anything like me, then you probably feel like you’ve won the lottery when you are able to capture a good candid photo.  Candid photography is the act of taking pictures of people in their most candid form, or when they are acting the most natural.  This means that they are in an “informal” or “un-posed” state.  If you need some tips on capturing your subjects in their most raw and pristine form, read on for 8 of the best tips for candid photography.

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Types of Candid Photography

Before we get into the tips, let’s take a moment to define the two different sub categories of candid photography, which are street photography and reaction photography.

  1. Street Photography:  Street photography is what it sounds like.  It involves actually going out onto the street and observing people or things in their natural habitat and environment.  For instance, you can decide to capture a homeless man begging on the street, a couple walking hand in hand, or a cyclist sweating in the heat through their workout.  Street photography is meant to capture and document human and animal life in its natural state.
  2. Reaction Photography:  Reaction photography is a great way to candidly capture someone’s natural reaction.  Even if a person is aware of a camera, their reaction to a surprise will make it look like they are not posing.  A great example of this could be a surprise engagement or surprise party.  The person who is surprised is usually so overcome with emotion that even though they know cameras are there, you will still be able to capture a raw reaction as a photographer.

Top 8 Tips for Candid Photography

Tip 1:  Take your Camera Everywhere

This is probably a no-brainer, but one of the best way to capture things that you were not sure were going to happen is to take a spontaneous photograph.  As a photographer, you always want to be ready and on your feet to capture certain moments.  The best bet is to take your camera everywhere you go.  Overtime, you will become more at ease with whipping your camera out.  Also, people who you know will get used to you always having a camera around and will respond naturally to your whipping a camera out.

Tip 2:  Use Long Zoom

If you want to be sneaky about taking a candid photograph, consider using a long zoom for your camera.  This is going to enable you to stay as far away from your subjects as possible so that they will not be aware that you are photographing them.  The less they know the more relaxed and natural they will be.  Use a telephoto lens or a long zoom to shoot people from the outside of their personal space.

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candid photography

Tip 3:  Disable Flash

How do you know when someone is taking a picture of you?  You will usually see a flash go off.  If you want to take multiple photographs without signaling to others that you are there, photograph without a flash.  If you are in a low light situation or environment, increase your ISO settings, use a faster lens, or open up the aperture of your camera for a “natural light mode”.  All of these techniques can help you blend in more as a photographer.

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Tip 4: Take Multiple Shots

The more shots that you take of a person, the more likely you are to capture an image that is candid.  Digital cameras, or DSLRs, make this easy, and you can sometimes get some surprising and spontaneous shots that you wouldn’t have gotten by posing someone.  Shoot in bursts of images and you will increase your chances of getting a perfect candid photograph.

Tip 5:  Photograph People Doing Things

This goes in line with street photography – photographing people in their natural state while they are doing things.  Not only is it easier to capture a candid photograph this way, but it is also much more interesting for the photo.  Candid photos or interesting pictures usually do not involve people sitting passively.  Remember, timing is everything.

Tip 6:  Use Your Hip

You probably did not think your hips would come in handy for candid photography, but setting your camera on your hip can help you achieve a candid photograph easier because your subject will be less likely to see your camera there.  If you do this, try to set your lens to a wider angle setting to sidestep any aiming problems.

Tip 7:  Use Foreground Elements

To make shots appear more candid, try to purposely include something in the background of the shot.  This will make the photograph appear as if you are hiding to capture the photo.  You can do this by shooting over someone’s shoulder, or incorporating a tree or a branch in a picture and shooting behind it.

Tip 8:  Take Pictures of Posed Shots

The next time your friends or family are on their way to take some professional staged photographs – tag along.  A fun way to capture candid moments is to take photos of other people taking posed shots.  In these moments, everyone who is in the shot will be focused on the professional photographer and not you.  You can shot from the side, zoom in, or take some profile positioned shots to achieve some pristine candid photographs.

Candid Camera

For candid photography, the best tip is to simply get out there and start taking as many photos as you can in as many places as possible.  Enroll in this course that will help you become a better photographer, and get ready to capture your friends, family, and strangers in their rawest, and most beautiful, form.