Both in normal day-to-day photography and in formal photographic scenarios, candid types of photography are becoming increasingly prominent. The last wedding I photographed, the couple hired me solely to take paparazzi-style shows of them and their guests throughout the day. For the formal photographs, they hired another photographer, and I was given the task of capturing a behind-the-scenes view during the day.
When they combined my photographs with the formal ones, the outcome was a beautiful blend of photos that gave a more complete storey than if they had gone with one or the other.
A few pointers to help photographers enhance their “candid” photography are included below. Please keep in mind that these pointers aren’t about capturing snoopy, voyeuristic, or genuine paparazzi images (i.e. photographing people without their permission), but rather about how to give the photos you take of individuals you know a more candid feel.
1. Take your camera with you wherever you go:
The greatest method to shoot impromptu photos is to be ready to do so at all times. I have a DSLR that I use while I’m on a shoot, but in between shoots, I like to carry a nice point and shoot camera that I can pull out at a moments notice to catch the various photo possibilities that life provides. Having your camera with you at all times makes people feel more at ease when you’re shooting their picture. My friends and family have come to anticipate me to have my camera out, so when I do, it’s not a signal for them to pose, but rather a natural part of our connection, which means they’re calm and the images are natural.
2. Make use of a long zoom:
Obviously, the further away you are from your subject, the less likely they are to realise you are photographing them, and the more natural and comfortable they will appear. Using a telephoto lens or a long zoom allows you to shoot from outside of their personal space while maintaining a sense of closeness in the shot.
3. Kill the Flash:
Using a flash is perhaps the most visible means of signalling to another person that you’re photographing them. Nothing beats a dazzling flash of light in the eyes to pass the time. If you’re going for candid images, try to avoid using the flash if at all possible (which isn’t always the case). Increase your ISO, use a faster lens, open up your aperture, or turn on your camera’s “natural light mode” when shooting in low light. Hopefully, one or a combination of these strategies will assist you in blending in a little better.
4. Take a lot of pictures:
I’ve written about this before on this site, but shooting numerous photographs of a person rapidly can occasionally result in some unexpected and spontaneous shots that you wouldn’t have gotten if you had shot one. Set your camera to continuous shooting mode and shoot in bursts of shots to boost your chances of capturing the right shot.
5. Make a strategic position for yourself:
While candid photography is all about capturing the spontaneity of a moment and getting that ideal shot at the right split second of time, I’ve found that if you look ahead and predict what’s about to happen in front of you, your chances of obtaining some excellent shots improve dramatically. So, while attending a wedding, arrive early (or even attend the rehearsal) and consider what will happen throughout the ceremony and where you should stand to catch each moment. Which way are people going to be facing? What are their plans? What kind of light will there be? You won’t have to rush around adjusting yourself when you should be shooting photographs if you think through these concerns; you’ll also snap a lot fewer shots of people’s backs!
6. Take pictures of people doing things:
Folks doing activities are considerably more intriguing to photograph than people sitting about doing nothing. For one thing, your subject will be focused on something, which adds intensity to a photo,but it also puts them in context and gives your image a storey element. In Candid pictures, timing is crucial, so wait till they are fully focused on what they are doing or who they are with and you’ll be able to inject a sensation of them being unconscious and the viewer of your photograph looking on unseen into your shots.
7. Take pictures of people with other people:
When you photograph more than one person in an image at the same time, something interesting happens: relationship is introduced into the scene. Even if the two (or more) persons in the photo aren’t truly conversing, it can give the image greater depth and a feeling of storey. Of course, in candid photographs, some interaction between your subjects is good because it adds emotion to the shot by allowing us, the spectator, to see how the people are acting.
8. Use your instincts when shooting:
If your subject notices you’re there and that you’ve had your camera out, they may stiffen up or act strangely when they see you raise your camera to your eye. The beauty of digital cameras is that taking a lot of pictures doesn’t cost you anything, and it’s possible to get a number of photographs without even raising your camera. To achieve the best results, you may want to adjust your lens to a wider angle to compensate for any aiming issues you may have.
9. Alter your viewpoints:
Another advantage of shooting from the hip is that it allows you to take the photo from a little different perspective (i.e. shooting from 3 feet height instead of 6). The candid nature of the images is enhanced by this. In fact, because they appear to be quite random, the slightly crooked, slightly out of focus, or badly placed photographs taken from this type of viewpoint often wind up looking the best. Of course, you don’t have to shoot from the hip to incorporate all of these different viewpoints into your photographs. Crouch down, get up high, frame your images on an angle, zoom in close and then quickly zoom out to a wide angle, defy the laws of composition, and you’ll give your photos a unique viewpoint that will make them look fresh and unexpected.
10. Using Foreground Elements to Frame Images:
In candid photographs, I frequently include something in the foreground to make it appear as if I’m hiding behind it. You could do this by filming over someone’s shoulder, or by including a little tree limb or a doorway frame.
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