- Be unobtrusive. Stay out of the way of whatever is happening. People will figure out soon enough that you're a photographer. Don't give them reasons to see you as an annoying one.
- Use a fairly long lens. Okay, walking around with your 600mm isn't going to help you blend in. Neither is getting in people's faces. Choose a lens that lets you keep your distance.
- Switch to continuous shutter mode. Anticipating the moment is, of course, a skill you'll need, but grabbing two or three shots at that moment will increase your chances of capturing it perfectly. You don't need to fire off huger bursts, but a few shots at a time can make all the difference.
- Turn off the noises. Nothing is going to give you away quicker than the prefocus beep.
- Turn off the flash. Okay, this one might give you away quicker than the beep. If you're inside or in low light, increase your ISO setting.
- Be mobile. No matter where you're shooting, you'll increase your chances of taking great shots by moving around. You're not a photo booth, so don't act like one.
- Practice patience. You may need to focus and hold for a while until your subject looks your way. Eye contact is always a good thing, so wait for it.
- Capture the story. Remember that the best shots tell a story. Try to include enough of the setting in at least some of your shots to show what's going on. Catch your subjects at a moment that describes the mood of the moment. Always strive to give viewers the impression of being there.
- Avoid awkward or embarrassing moments. While there's a certain crowd that enjoys those photos you see in memes that present people at their worst, that's not the audience you should be shooting for. Keep your standards high.
- Get involved. Spectators are nuisances in many situations. Be something more. Have conversations with people. Thank them when you've grabbed that perfect shot. Show it to them. Smile. Not only will being involved help people warm up to you, it will build trust, which is something you're going to need if you want to turn your subjects into clients.
Some of the most successful shots of people you'll ever take will be those taken when they weren't expecting you to take them. When you get the right ones, you'll capture better expressions, more honest emotion and overall, photos with more impact. Knowing how to get the right ones is the key and while there are never any guarantees, there are a few steps you can take to increase the odds in your favor.
Before we get into those steps, let me say that there's never been a better time to be taking photos of people, even if you don't consider yourself a portrait photographer. There's a new, ingenious way for both professional and amateur photographers to generate income from their photos of people, started by the folks at KeepSnap. I'll give you more details on that at the end of this article, but my point is that knowing how to take great candid shots will increase your chances of success in this market, so it's well worth learning.
Alright, let's get to those tips:
(Success Tip: The secret to selling more photography with less effort)
That concludes the list and brings us around to the details I promised earlier. Now that you've got those great candid shots of people and you've chatted with them a bit, there's just one more simple step to take that turns every one of those photos into a potential sale. If you've signed up on KeepSnap, you can leave your card with the subjects of your photos, after letting them have a preview, and let them know that they can view the finished photos online soon and purchase those that they like.
Now, this idea can work pretty well when you're shooting in public places where visitors will want mementos. On the other hand, it probably isn't a great idea at parties and other private events unless you've been invited as a photographer. Fortunately, KeepSnap has created a way for that to happen, too, with a searchable directory that people can use to find photographers anywhere in the world. It's a clean, simple process and a great way to be discovered.
Next time you're out and about, try using the tips above to capture people doing whatever they're doing. You should find yourself with some great shots and you may even have the chance to earn some money from your efforts.