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How to Capture Quality Candid Photography

Candid photography is a whole art unto itself. It requires capturing people at their most natural, most unsuspecting moment. Your subject looks relaxed and your photo can often capture the raw emotion you might not otherwise see in a posed shot.

But it’s not easy to do. So here at Camera House, we’ve gathered together some of our own top tips for giving you a greater chance of catching the perfect candid shot.

Be Prepared

Every moment offers the potential for a candid photograph. Unlike posed portraits, the best candid shots only work when you’ve caught something unexpected on camera.

This only works if you move fast. And you can only move fast if you have your camera settings already programmed and your camera ready to go.

boy in red hoodie

Avoid using flash

It’s hard for anyone to remain natural when a flash is blinding their vision. Instead of using the flash, try to widen your aperture settings and increase your ISO. Having a faster lens can also help.

Use a zoom lens

Just as with a flash, you’ll struggle to go unnoticed if you’re shoving a huge lens into people’s personal space. A telephoto lens or a long zoom lets you stand really far away and still get close-up shots that make it look like you’re close to the action.

indian boy with frown

From far away, you can also get a better context surrounding the subject, which can help you frame the portrait or learn more about the person, which brings us to our next point…

Include context

Adding context usually means positioning your subject in a way that betrays their location and surroundings too. For example, you can place them to the left or right of the frame, with their revealed environment or activities helping to explain something about them.

thai monks sitting in prayer

Shoot from the hip

If you’ve ever been in a foreign country where the locals are just too exotic to resist a photograph, you’ll love this technique.

If you shoot from the hip, you may be able to avoid those stilted pictures of terse people aware their photo is being taken. If you want to avoid aiming problems that are likely to happen, try setting your camera to a wide angle setting.

A bonus to shooting from the hip is the unusual angle you’ll get from the shot. These perspectives – looking up at the subject, sometimes at a crooked angle – can be the most original photographs you’ll take.

old man falling asleep on chair

Never miss a moment

Part of being a pro photographer is always being on the lookout for the next best shot. And that means you need to keep your camera ready by your side.

It doesn’t mean you have to take your fancy DSLR everywhere you go – a quality point-and-shoot camera can work just as effectively (and sometimes even better) – than the bulky, more obvious DSLR.

Be patient

We know you don’t want to hear it (again!), but candid photography is all about biding your time and waiting for the golden moment to arise – an unexpectedly smile, a sudden ray of sunshine on the family picnic blanket.

Being patient doesn’t work unless you’re also observant. As our first point stresses, you must always be on the lookout for that shot.

blond girl looking behind her

Make like your subjects

If you wear a tuxedo to a birthday party, you’re going to stand out and make people uncomfortable. The idea of a candid photographer is that you go unnoticed. This means getting the dress code right and moving slowly and quietly so you blend in.

Keep your subjects busy

If they’ve got nothing to do, your subjects are likely to be much more aware of you, the photographer. And that’s going to change their behaviour in front of the camera.

Giving your subjects a prop or someone else to talk to allows them to focus their attention and energy into something else. It’s bound to help them relax and forget about your presence.

Even better, giving them some kind of activity adds context to your portrait, making it far more interesting than the bland shot of them staring at the camera.

Wait until they’re totally immersed in their proper or in the middle of a conversation before you press the shutter button.

candid photo of girl eating candy

Do you have any special techniques that ensure your subjects are relaxed and you can capture better candid pictures? Please share them in the comments section below! And while you’re here, check out our full range of camera products online at Camera House for all your portrait photography needs.

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