Better candid photography begins with understanding that it is not shooting pictures of people without their permission, like a paparazzi photographer waiting outside the front door or sneaking around corners. The best candid photos are those that are taken when people know you’re taking pictures, but they’re unaware of what image you’re trying to capture, and when. Developing your candid photography skills will improve all your photography because you’ll recognize the pictures you’ll want to take quicker. You may even learn how to anticipate candid photos, like a sports photographer, so you’re ready to take it before it occurs.
Although you can shoot candid photographs of your pets (and you’re encouraged to do so), most of your candid photography will be of family members, friends, co-workers, team members, etc. In this context, candid photography means you are catching people behaving naturally or spontaneously, with other people, with objects or within a specific space. It’s what your pictures can reveal about people’s relationships with people, objects or spaces that will make your candid photography more interesting. Look for that spontaneous behavior or relationship, and then wait until the person is fully engrossed. He or she will be so focused on what they are doing that you will become almost non-existent. That’s the time to strike! When you learn how to anticipate those moments, your candid photography will tell a story and convey emotion without the need for words. Those are the best candid photos.
To improve your candid photography, you must be prepared and equipped to take it. Like a photojournalist, you must have your camera with you all the time. Good candid photos occur when and where they occur—and usually only once. In some cases, your camera needs to be in your hands, since some candid photos come and go in seconds, but that isn’t always practical. If you have your camera with you and prepared to shoot, then you’ll ready for an event or gathering with many candid photography opportunities.
You’re more likely to catch the candid pictures you want (and maybe some surprising ones you didn’t anticipate) when you shoot plenty of images. Use the continuous shooting mode to photograph a friend dancing badly, for example, and you’re sure to have the perfect candid photo to put on your Facebook wall. Try candid photography with a longer zoom lens. You’ll learn how to position yourself further from people and the action, so it’s even easier to catch those candid photography moments. Also, forget the flash! Experiment with the low-light settings on your camera, so you’re not ruining your candid photos with a bright flash in the faces of your subjects.
Another important candid photography tip is to scout the location of an event where you know you’ll being taking candid photos, such as a wedding, birthday party, school reunion, etc. Arrive early to determine where people are more likely to be standing or sitting and in what direction. Is there a stage or dais? Ask about all the activities that will be occurring during the event: buffet, dancing, presentations, etc. Then, you can be in the strategic positions to take the most exciting candid photography. Then, don’t be afraid to break a few photographic rules. Shoot from low and high angles, shoot some candid pictures without looking through the camera and turn the camera at strange and unusual angles. This is when candid photography becomes fun for you—and you’ll be the center of attention when everyone wants to see the candid photos you’ve taken.