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Tips for Candid Photography

How to Capture the Real Life Moments and Memories

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Candid photography is photography that focuses on spontaneity rather than technique. Your subject's focus is not on the camera, but on their current task. So we're not talking about the photo albums full of people looking at the camera and smiling here! Your subjects are un-posed and the shots are unplanned.

Candid photos are usually simple photos without a lot of technical equipment or any time taken setting up the shot. Thus they capture some wonderful slices of life!

Here are some tips for taking candid photos:

  • Take your camera everywhere you go! Keep alert for candid situations - they can be found everywhere.
  • Some examples of candid shots: A daydreaming store owner; an elderly man sitting beside you; commuters waiting for a train; two lovers on a park bench about to kiss; a child's delight when feeding ducks; elation of a football supporter when a goal is scored; a city tramp surrounded by clutter; a woman lost in thought staring at the beach.
  • It's rare to get a second chance with candid photography. When you see an opportunity, grab it!
  • Don't use complicated lighting techniques for taking your candid shots. Concentrate on the simple and use your camera's automatic features. Technical problems don't matter so much if you have a great candid photo. Most technical problems (like if the image is too dark or too light) can be fixed on your computer.
  • Set your camera to "ISO 400" so it uses a fast shutter speed. This will help you grab the shot even if you are moving.
  • The best candid photographers blend into the background, so don't be too obvious. Do what everyone else is doing so you fit in with the situation. Then when you see a good candid moment, bring your camera up to your eye.
  • You don't always need to take the shot with your camera at eye level. Support your camera on your waist when taking the photo. Some luck or experience is needed here to get the framing right.
  • Use your zoom lens to it's fullest extent so you can keep away from the action while taking your shot. A telephoto lens is essential if you're going to be a fair distance away.
  • Never take photos of people's backs. Nothing is more boring than a group of people with all backs turned to the camera. It just doesn't work.
  • Try converting the image to black and white to get that extra punch and emotion.
  • People 'doing things' make the best candid photos. Sports players, trades people, farmers and accountants are all excellent examples of subjects with things to do.
  • Try to capture the essence of the person's task. For example, you might capture a plumber concentrating on fixing a leaky pipe.
  • If you're in a public place, it's usually okay to photograph people. If they object, however, you need to stop. If you're not sure, it never hurts to ask permission beforehand. Your subject may want to pose, so explain what you saw them doing and ask them to continue as if you weren't there.
  • Experiment! Sometimes the artistic expression of a candid photo can be limited by you, the photographer. Try different angles, places and scenes. Look at candid photos created by others (they can be found in lots of magazines) for inspiration.

Candid photography is a great way to add some artistic flair to your photos without spending a lot of time with the technical aspects of photography.

David Peterson has a great love of photography and loves to share his knowledge with the world! He has created a series of free tips at http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com to help digital photography users everywhere take better photos.

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