There’s an art to capturing the perfect candid photo — it goes far beyond point and shoot. If you can master it, however, you’ll have captured treasured memories and snapshots of life in an often more meaningful way than posed photography could. Catch up on part one of capturing the perfect candid, and then read this next round of tips and tricks!
Play the Spy
The magic of a candid comes from allowing the viewer to be transported to a real, electric moment. You can heighten that sense of intimacy and reality by purposefully including something in the foreground, like a tree brand or people’s backs to give the impression that you (and the viewer) are an unseen observer peeking over someone’s shoulder. That touch of voyeurism adds an intimacy that can take a photo to the next level and transfix a viewer.
Tell a Story
The point of candid photography is to capture moments in life as they unfold, and as they truly were. Think about your shits in terms of telling a story. What will make not only the most aesthetic, visual interest, but also do the most to hint at a story? Create photos that offer a peek into a fully developed world your viewer will imagine just out of frame. Always look for photos where your subjects are deeply engaged somehow. If your subjects are performing some activity or interacting with another person or object, include the action in the frame so that we understand it as dynamic.
Alternatively, you may witness a meaningful look pass between two people — you can either include both people so that the real subject of the photo is their relationship, or you may focus on just one person’s expression to create an air of mystery and an untold story. The viewer can’t help but wonder what is taking place just out of frame to create such an enigmatic expression, giving the impression that there is much more going on than one photo can capture. Withholding that information is sometimes more interesting that revealing it.
After the Shutter
Another way to approach candid photos is to take your posed shots to the next level. Next time you are photographing people in a traditional, posed manor, try this: take the photo as they expect, but keep shooting even after you indicate that you are done. The moment after the camera comes down when everyone relaxes and looks at each other can be a very powerful and natural feeling way to get “candid” photos while still having the benefits of a well posed group with controlled lighting and camera settings.
To state the obvious, a candid photo must be just that — unforced. Sometimes, you’ll miss the shot, and sometimes the right moment will never quite fall into place. That’s okay! The elusiveness of a perfect candid is part of what makes it so beautiful. Be patient and quietly aware of what is going on around you so that when the perfect shot is in front of you, all you have to do is pick up your camera and point.
For more, check out these great examples of candid photography.