Many wonderful photo moments have been caught without the person knowing they were on camera. I believe there are way more successful blogs, sites, and social media channels on this topic than I can ever list. We do love our candid moments.
Sometimes, those moments capture moods, feelings, expressions, tenderness, and life in ways that is pure and honest. No one is staging any feelings. No one is pretending. It’s just real life.
In away, that is why scenery type photography is so appealing. Nature doesn’t pose for the camera. This is also ignoring how animals have learned to play with photographers who aim their lens at them.
Last time I shared some photos of my friend CV in a fictional story, I had photos that were not the most perfect to share. I talked about how tormented I was about sharing them. However, I know that I’m not a perfect photographer and I make mistakes along the way. So, in an effort to push myself outside my comfort zone, I shared them.
Today, I’m sharing from the archives of candids a few other photos done in a park that looked much better. The focus of the shoot was a blend of nature and fashion essay. I was trying to play with portraying different elements of CV’s outfit inside of nature and editing the life out of them to make them look like art.
The Art of Candid
One of the lessons I’ve picked up from watching others trying to take a candid… they make it too obvious they’re going for the candid shot. The more production is made about getting a candid shot, the more likely the person will notice and brace themselves for the photo.
Then, asking the person to pretend that they’re posing for a candid only makes things worse. The whole point of a candid is that it was taken in the moment without anyone being ready for the camera.
Candid shots are low probability events. Meaning… the odds of being at the right place at the right time capturing the right mood… is a low probability event compared to creating a moment to look like it is all natural. This is why professional models get paid so well. They make the mood happen for you instead of you waiting for the right moment that may not come.
What increases the odds in your favor of taking a great candid is… being ready for the moment. Blending into the moment and waiting ready. That way, you’re not fumbling around to get into position. You’re already in position. And all that is left to do is to click the shutter and capture the moment.
There has been times when I’ve focused my attention elsewhere from the subject I wanted to capture and then swiveled and turned just in time to get the candid before they could react. Beautiful moments. Some were sweet enough to convert the subject into a paying client. They liked how they looked in candid because it was done right.
I had a few professional photographers show me their tricks to capturing a beautiful candid. The above swivel example was one of those gems. I know people are incredibly in tuned with all cameras about them and will quickly plaster a signature smile as soon as they come into focus. With those people, you have to look focused on someone else and swivel at the last second. (already focused and ready or else you miss it)
It should not be necessary to state this, but if a person is aware you’re trying to do a candid of them and they’re going out of their way to avoid being photographed… or told you not to take their photo… respect that and find a different subject. No need to harass someone for a photo they don’t want you to take. Gives good photographers a bad name.
I also will delete any photos I take that a person is totally insisting I delete. Not because I am obligated, but to me it’s customer service. I snapped a photo in a public setting, I own it. But the hassle of them pursuing me is not worth it to me. Believe it or not, by being willing to delete a photo… I’ve gained the trust of several and converted them to clients who sent me plenty of referrals.
One more note before continuing. Should said person not want you to have their photo and you don’t delete the photo… don’t post them up online and worse… tag them. Not cool. Each municipality has it’s rules about how photos and privacy should be handled. I’m just conservative and prefer not to make waves over a photo that I won’t sell.
Most photos I would make a big deal about in the candid arena aren’t focused around humans anyway so I don’t have any problems with consent for the candids.
Lessons from candid town
I learned a lot about lighting by doing candids. You have to get comfortable knowing what settings work with what lighting when doing a lot of candids. You don’t have time to reset the moment most of the time. You have to get it right the first time. This means understanding composition and lighting on an instinctual level.
A lot of this comes with practice. It is also lost when out of practice, but comes back pretty fast once you’re back at it. You’ve got to train your eyes to know what settings to use in what lighting. Some people are better at outdoor candids, others indoors. Cell phones make taking candids super easy. But, when in full auto with a DSLR… you still need to know the fundamentals and how that relates to the various situations you find yourself in.
Playing in the world of candids means understanding people, understanding the environments in which you can do candids, and also understanding your gear very well. Your gear has to be an extension of your body and thought. You’re focused on getting the shot, not messing around with your gear to get the shot.
When you get a good candid, it feels like art. You caught a moment, a thought, an experience, a memory. The biggest candid I’ve had to capture many many times… the moment after the minister says “you may kiss the bride”. There is no room for second guessing that moment. You have to have everything set up just right for that moment.
Top level photographers know exactly what to do to get the shot spot on. Me, I don’t assume I will get it… so I snap a few shots before the kiss to verify my settings are correct… then… I wait. I anticipate. Then.. I let the magic happen. No greater feeling than seeing the couple relive their first official kiss when they see your photos of their kiss. (um… yeah… there are greater feelings out there… but this relates to candid shots)
As I conclude my post… I will leave a link for the project involving all the candids of CV I prepared just for this post. There will be others another time. Until then, keep your focus sharp of a solid candid moment of a life time.
Candid Town Gets Created
The main shoot was all about a fashion layout. Going for that magazine feel. The client was a website run by a woman trying to showcase the strength of women in fashion (with a heavy focus on handbags, heels, and other accessories). Had to put on my game face. Make this work perfectly.
With a few hours set aside to do the work, every minute had to be accounted for smartly. As with most creative types, eventually… a few ideas start to work their way into the main project. This led to taking a few candids.
More about these candids will be showcased on the project section of the blog… which is linked below for your convenience. Thank you for clicking like and sharing this post… if you were so moved. Really appreciate that.
- Candid Town - Some lessons are just candid. Some can be staged. The mixture of both styles makes a shoot a lot more fun.
Here are other posts and projects with this model
Some candid photos do inspire poetic words. Especially when thinking about life, romance, and the future
The home page for one photo session with Claire