Good candid photography is an art form on its own. It takes a tremendous amount of skill to capture the perfect moment in time.
Yes, sometimes luck is on your side, but often the talented photojournalist can consistently pull off amazing candid shots.
But here are some tips to help you make it big in candid photography and create some real dazzling photos.
Anticipate the Best Moments in a Scene
Try to develop a keen sense for the best places to be for the right image — and often it is just common sense.
If you are capturing moments from an event, then it will be very helpful to research about the even and the people who will be attending. This will at least give you an idea or anticipate where and when special moments are going to happen.
For wedding photography, if you know the bride and groom are seeing each other for the first time right before the ceremony, make sure to be there, in the spot they meet.
Capture Scenes from a Distance
Nothing freaks people out and makes them act weird than knowing a camera is pointed right at them. Leave your wide-angle lens at home and keep your telephoto mounted to your camera. If you can shoot from a distance, it is more likely that people will forget you are there and will have genuine emotions and reactions that you can capture.
Give Your Subjects Some Freedom to Move Naturally
Your presence might make it awkward for your targets to move naturally. So, if your subject knows you are there, even with a long lens, walk away for a few minutes and sneak back over. Just a few minutes can be enough time for them to forget about you and to allow you to shoot candidly.
Know the Backstory
Get to know your subjects so you can be ready to make a great story.
War photographers, for example, know who the key players are, what the divisive issues are and what motivates the armies. You may not be in a war zone, but it is important to know what motivates the people you photograph. This will give you a clue when the subjects may react. Additionally, this will help you anticipate how they will react, whether it be laughing, crying, shouting or smiling.
Try to figure out the relationships between everyone and who has the biggest personalities. These people are most likely to have memorable candid photos.
Master Your Camera Settings
You should know your camera inside and out if you want to get good at candid photos. You should be able to look at a scene and estimate your settings. You should be able to change your exposure quickly and know which knob or button changes your shutter speed, which changes your aperture, and which changes your ISO. These should be second nature operations.
Autofocus Will Be Your Best Friend
Special moments happen quickly and it is not likely that you can manually focus in time. Rely on your autofocus system to gather a sharp image. Set your autofocus mode and points for the situation you are in, whether the subject is moving and what part of the frame you expect them to be in.
Many times, candid photos are not completely candid. Often the photographer will set the subject up for the shot. You don’t have to direct your subject, but if you know that a good candid opportunity is coming, you can ask them to move toward some window light. You can even set up your own lighting, knowing that the subject will be facing a certain way.
Being prepared does not take away from the candidness. It just gives you a leg up when it comes to quality.
Practice all these tips as you join Award-winning photographer Colin Smith on Taming Light Photography’s Tuscany Photography Adventure 2019. Register now and fly to the world of Renaissance to capture the greatest works of art and take a lot of candid shots on the most inspiring streets of Tuscany.