In this article, the phrase ‘candid photography’ refers to ‘taking pictures of people without their being aware of it’. It does not mean nude photography in this article. There is another, perhaps more recent facet to consider if you like candid photography and that is permission. People are much more likely to get angry these days if they notice you taking photographs of them without their permission than they used to. This is especially true where the photos involve children.
This seems to fly in the face of the best candid photography, but it only adds another layer to it. After having taken the photo of an adult, you can show it to them and you could give them a card so that they can download it free from your website. If you want to take great candid photos of children, always, always ask the guardian’s permission first or you may find yourself in the cells.
You could ask your friends and family to grant you permanent permission to indulge in your hobby of candid photography where they are concerned, if you give them the ultimate right to edit your pictures of them, before the are used on your website or sold. It would make them feel a lot easier about having you around.
There is no doubt that the subject of the photograph is more likely to be acting naturally and spontaneously, if they are unaware of you and your camera. In turn, these ‘raw’ or candid shots will evoke more emotion in the viewer than stage-managed poses. In order to achieve this, you need to be able to think ahead and act quickly.
This made candid photography very difficult ‘in the old days’, because most settings were made manually. So, you could judge the distance and lighting and the speed of movement and you had to keep adjusting those settings, but because few people complained about being photographed it was still feasible.
In these days of fully automatic, digital cameras and digital recording, the photographer can concentrate on the subject more, knowing that the camera and digital editing will give almost limitless ultimate control, but this is tempered by the necessity for permission. However, at least you may already have the shot before you ask for permission – except in the case of minors.
Most candid shots are of people and the best shots of people are facial close-ups. You can use a zoom lens to facilitate this, but it makes taking photographs at speed difficult because of shudder. A tripod is usually the answer, but it is also rather conspicuous for candid photography. Therefore, you need to be in close – no more than 15-20 feet away.
When you are this close, people will notice you, obviously, so you you have to get them used to seeing you with a camera, so that you just blend into the scenery. This can take hours or weeks to achieve depending on how much people trust you, know you and like having their photos taken etc.
You will need to become a keen observer. You will need to learn people and learn to judge when the moment is right for that perfect picture and then take it quickly. If the subject spots you out of the corner of their eye and has time to react – either to pose or shy away – you have lost the moment. You were too slow or too obtrusive or you hadn’t realised that your subject was still aware of you.
You are more likely to be successful with profile pictures, especially if the subject is concentrating on something else like walking in the woods, in a crowd or crossing the road; reading a book; watching a team game or their children or pets at play.
In order to master the art of candid photography, take lots of photos, it costs nothing these days, and always have your camera with you. A note book is handy too so that you can take notes on the subject matter – name, place, date, time, location etc. Never leave the house without your digital camera – it has to become second nature to you.