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Candid Photography Tips

1. Blend in With the Crowd – Make Yourselves Invisible

The key to successful candid photography lies in the photographer’s ability to blend in with the general people in the crowd. Dress as per the occasion, avoid wearing the photographer’s jacket, keep the equipment you carry with you to the minimum, a DSLR with a general purpose zoom and some spare CF cards would do. The lesser gear you carry the lesser is the chance of attracting attention to you. Be careful with your movements, do not make sudden or jerky movements even if you see the opportunity for a great picture, instead stay calm, slowly lift the camera to your eye and shoot all your movements should be fluid, natural.

Photo By Chris JL

2. Use Long Lens

Although this contradicts with other points we mention in the article, like blend in with the crowd, don’t be very obvious, do not attract attention to you etc. Having a zoom lens with a longer focal length is essential to capture great candid moments. Longer lens lets you put considerable distance between you and your subjects, there by greatly decreasing the chances of you being noticed. General purpose zoom lens like the 18 – 135mm, 55 – 250mm, 70 – 200mm etc works really well for candid photography.

candid photography tutorial
Photo By Chris JL

3. Position Yourselves Strategically

It pays to do a tour of the entire place before the actual event so as to get an idea of things, like where will be the key events happening, where will be the audience, where will the light come from etc. after analysing all the possible scenarios look for places where you could hang out and get the best view of important moments without being an inconvenience to others. Many a times, positioning yourselves strategically before the actual moment makes the difference between getting great shots and getting average ones as you will find it difficult to move from one place to another during the function.

4. Forget about Artificial Lighting

It is best to turn off your flash and forget about it; similarly you can leave your strobes and remote triggers at home. Candid photography is strictly available light territory; as any form of flash will not only grab the attention of the entire crowd, but also will ruin the shot by draining the ambience and making the image look flat and lifeless.

photography candid
Photo By Vineet Radhakrishnan

5. Think Ahead

Try to think ahead and imagine what all situations you will be facing during the big day. Among them which ones have potential to make great pictures? It pays to make a list of shots that you would like to take during the function as it will get you organized and be mentally prepared for the challenge. An example of Must Shoot List could include things like
  • Guests When they Arrive
  • Expression of People During Speech
  • Guests Greeting Each Other
  • Expression During First Dance etc
  • Close up Pictures of Food and Wine

6. Be Ready at All Times

Carry your camera with you at all times and always be ready to shoot when an opportunity presents itself to you. Having your camera with you at all times also has the advantage that after a while people tend to ignore it and then will be your chance to shoot people who are otherwise very shy towards cameras.

candid photography tips
Photo By Simon Ingram

7. Anticipate

Just like in wildlife photography, the skill to anticipate what is going to happen next and being ready to capture the moment is very essential. You will only get a split second from the moment you see it coming to the moment you realize a potentially great shot missed. The trick to avoid it from happening is to be able to predict in advance what is going to happen and clicking at the precise time to successfully grab the shot.

8. Master the Semi Automatic Modes of Your Camera

It is a good idea to completely master the semi automatic modes of your digital camera like Aperture priority mode and Shutter Priority Mode, also how to set exposure compensation and how it does affects the exposure. Mastering these modes makes your metering and clicking much faster than in manual mode and it is also gives you much more control over the fully automatic modes. You will not get second chances so do not hesitate to shoot lots of pictures, it is a good idea to put the camera in continuous shooting mode and shoot in bursts, you will find many interesting frames among the lines.

tutorial on candid photography
Photo By Chris Zerbes

9. Keep your Subject’s Mind off the Camera

Most people won’t act natural when they know that they are being filmed. A kind of nervousness creeps over them and it ruins everything. Every single shot looks artificial, posed. The trick to avoid this from happening is to distract your subject’s mind and make them engaged in some other activity, and shoot them in the process. Position yourselves far from them, pretend that you are engaged in shooting something else, or do engage with them for a while without the camera so they get to relax and once they are completely unaware of you and your camera, silently slip back, grab your camera and shoot.

10. Photograph People when They are Engaged In an Activity or When Interacting With Others

The best chances for candid photography is when people are either engaged in some activity or when are interacting with other people. It is because they will be fully focused on the activity they are engaged in and won’t notice that they are being shot. You could also hope to capture a variety of emotions, expressions and reactions from the people. Moreover people engaged in an activity or interacting with others adds context to the image and narrates a story to the viewer.

11. Take Group Shots

It is easier to get good candid shots of groups of people than individual members. The fact of being in a crowd somehow takes the stress off them. Also when in a group, people tend to interact with each other which could also lighten the mood, and add emotion and drama to the shot.

tips for candid photography
Photo By Javier

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