Candid photography tips

Susan Fernandez December 12 2021

What is it?

Candid photography is a style of photography where the photographer tries to capture the natural, unposed moments of their subjects. It can be done in a variety of settings, such as at a party or during everyday life.

Candid photography is often seen as more candid and natural than posed photography. This is because it captures real moments without the interference of a photographer telling the subject what to do. As a result, candid photos often have more personality and emotion than traditional posed photos.

Candid photography can be a great way to capture memories of people and events. It can also be used to create interesting and unique portraits.

History of candid photography

While candid photo can be found across cultures, its roots are in Western society.

The public exhibition of photographs is believed to have begun with the French inventor Nicéphore Niépce. His "View from the Window at Le Gras" was captured with a camera obscura in 1826. This was not developed for another eight years, because he needed sunlight to process it.

The earliest widely distributed photograph was Eadweard Muybridge's photo of Major General William R. Davidson and his horse "Occident" riding down an Orange County road in California on May 13, 1877. This photo helped prove that all four hooves of the horse were off the ground during galloping (which had been previously disputed).

Muybridge went on to become a major figure in early candid photography. In 1880, he captured the first photo of a nude woman on a bed with his new zoopraxiscope. He also took nature photographs of animals and plants which were used as evidence for Darwin's theory of evolution.

In 1888, brothers Léon and André Disderi further advanced candid photography by photographing people who did not know they were being photographed. Their invention was called the "disderigraph", later known as the the camera obscure box (Latin for "dark chamber").

It consisted of an enclosed that had a lens near the opening at one side and a sensitized plate inside. When an object crossed in front of the lens, it would cast a shadow on the plate and leave an imprint of the object. In 1895, Englishman William Henry Jackson took the first aerial photograph from a hot air balloon. This photo was used to document the topography of landscapes for mapping purposes.

The popularity of candid photography grew rapidly in the early 20th century. Henri Cartier-Bresson is often credited as being one of its earliest pioneers. He is best known for his "decisive moment" photos, which captured unposed moments in time.

After World War II, Life magazine became one of the most popular publishers of candid photo. The magazine often sent photographers to document people and events happening around the world. While candid photography has been around for over 150 years, it is still popular today. In the age of social media, people are increasingly using candid photos to capture memories and moments.

Where should you start?

A good place to start is with a candid photo of yourself. Humans are naturally very aware of their own faces, so there's usually more personality in a self-portrait than a portrait of someone else. Then move on to photographing friends and family. Candid photos can add new life to formal portraits since they eliminate the stiffness that sometimes comes from posing for photos.

You might also try taking candid photos at parties or other social gatherings. These kinds of events give you a variety of different people and settings to photograph, which can help improve your photography skills.

With any type of photo, it helps if you have the right equipment before going out and shooting candid pictures. Ideally, you should have a mid-range camera with a variety of settings. You might also want to bring along your camera's instruction manual, so you can review the different setups if needed.

How to take candid photos

Candid photos capture unique moments that are not posed or directed by the subject. This can be achieved in four main ways:

  •  using mirrors

There are several benefits to using reflective surfaces as part of your candid photography setup. Mirrors allow you to capture shots without having anything in front of the lens, which means there is no chance of ruining them by accidentally obstructing your view.

  • waiting for the "decisive moment"

You might also try taking candid photos by waiting for the "decisive moment". With this technique, you take pictures at random, but only capture special moments like an interesting facial expression or an action shot.

However, it can be harder to use this method with candid photography than traditional portrait photos since it's difficult to predict when a special moment will occur. It may also require a lot of patience to get a good shot if people are moving around frequently.

  • being low to the ground

Being low to the ground gives you a better chance of capturing someone who doesn't notice you – and therefore isn't posing. This technique is especially helpful for photographing children because they won't suspect that anything is amiss. However, it can be difficult to get a good angle if you're too low to the ground.

  • using a telephoto lens

If you want to take candid shots from a distance, using a telephoto lens is your best option. This will help you capture photos without the subject knowing that they're being photographed. However, it's important to keep in mind that telephoto lenses can distort facial features, so use them with caution.

  • at specific events and gatherings

You can also take candid photos at events and gatherings. Weddings, birthday parties, and sports contests are all good places to look for inspiration. However, it's generally considered bad etiquette to use a telephoto lens or flash during religious ceremonies like weddings. It's also best not to take any pictures without asking the subjects first.

What settings should your camera have?

Ideally, you'll want an SLR (single-lens reflex) camera with manual controls in order to get the most control over your candid photography. The more automatic settings available on your camera, the less creative freedom you'll have when taking photos.

The ISO setting is one of the best ways that you can adjust how well your photos will turn out. Higher ISOs will result in a noisier photo, but they can be helpful in low-light situations.

The aperture setting (measured in f-stops) also affects the photo's outcome. A lower aperture number will result in a greater depth of field, while a higher aperture will produce a narrower depth of field. This can be used to your advantage when taking portraits, as you can have the background completely blurred out.

Shutter speed is another important setting to consider when taking candid photos. A faster shutter speed will freeze any action in the photo, while a slower shutter speed will blur any movement. Finally, it's important to remember that different cameras require different settings for optimal results. Be sure to look up your camera's manual if you need more information on how to change these settings.

What photo subjects should you focus on?

Since candid photography is often taken at special events or gatherings, some of the best subjects include children, babies, newlyweds, sports teams, and birthday parties.

Creative techniques for capturing candid photos

There are several techniques that can be used to improve your candids after you've already taken them. You can crop close to someone's face in order to remove distracting backgrounds or unflattering elements. Another option is transferring your photos into black-and-white, which can make them appear more artistic than they would in color. You might also try out distractions like random strangers who happened to get into your shot.

What about photo editing?

Candid photo is often taken in low-light situations, so it helps if you can brighten up the photos after they've been taken. Although you could do this all on your computer, using a portable printer to produce prints of your photos is another option. However, avoid using too many digital enhancements unless the photo really needs them. Otherwise, you risk losing some of its natural quality.

The popularity of candid photos on social media

Candid photos have become increasingly popular on social media in recent years. This is likely due to the fact that they offer a more personal and unposed view of the world. People are often drawn to candid shots because they feel like they're getting a sneak peek into someone's life.

When posting candid photos on social media, it's important to remember to be respectful of the people who are featured in them. Avoid posting unflattering or embarrassing photos without their permission. Additionally, make sure that you're only sharing photos that you have the right to publish.

How to make a candid photo with a smartphone?

One of the simplest ways to snap a candid picture is to use the self-timer on your smartphone. Once you've got everything set up, just press the camera button and run into position yourself.

If you don't want other people in your photo, try using face detection so that it blurs out everyone else's faces. Alternatively, you can take multiple selfies until there are no other people in sight. Or if all else fails, ask someone to take your photo for you.

Selfie as a candid photo

Although people sometimes use selfies as candid photos, it may be best to avoid this if possible. Since the photo is taken by you, it will lack that special spontaneity that makes candid photography so appealing.

Additionally, there's also the possibility that your selfie might not capture the right shot. If you really need to take a selfie during an important moment, at least ask someone else to snap the photo for you.

General tips on how to take a good shot:

  • be aware of your surroundings and who or what is in the photo
  • use a fast shutter speed to freeze action
  • if taking photos in low light, use a higher ISO setting or a flash
  • try to avoid using the zoom lens on your camera as it often results in blurry photos
  • take multiple shots to increase your chances of getting a good one
  • experiment with different settings on your camera to see what works best for you

Candid Street Photography Tips for Beginners

If you are a beginner photographer and want to take candid photography, you can watch this video so you don't make any mistakes.

Bottom line

Candid photography provides an intimate and more personal look at the world around us. However, this type of photo is more difficult than it might seem and requires a combination of many different techniques to get great shots.

Although you should avoid unflattering photos and be respectful of people's privacy, candid photography allows you to capture some truly unique perspectives that no one else can get on their own.