I guess we should start with what is the definition of a candid photo. To me a candid photo/portrait is a photo where the subject does not know you are taking their photo. They are acting as they naturally would, but are or performing some sort of action (laughing, playing, singing etc). Being a wedding photographer I have seen the tide swing from traditional photos taken at events to more of a candid / photojournalist style of photos. I think that this has started to take hold in portrait photography as well. If you haven’t experimented with candid shots before it might seem easier to capture a great candid than a formal pose, but in practice the best candid photos on canvas may have a lot of work behind them. These keys to capturing great candid photos will help you make the most of your photo opportunities and capture the perfect shots and then print those candid photos on canvas.
The overriding idea behind candid photography is taking photos of people with natural expressions and body movements. Models and actors can make nearly any pose or situation look natural, but this isn’t the case with most of the rest of us! When you are taking candid photos minimize giving direction to your subjects. Instead, focus on being ready to take the shot when the right moment happens.
Unless your subjects have come to view your photography as commonplace and can act natural in front of the lens you may want to incorporate a little subterfuge in your candid photography. For starters, it’s usually best to turn off the flash and manually adjust your settings for the correct exposure. You might also want to practice taking photos with your camera at chest level; if subjects don’t see that you’re looking through the viewfinder, they won’t assume you’re shooting. Newer model cameras, and many smart phone cameras, have settings to reduce or eliminate the tell-tale "beep" of a photo being taken.
The best candid photos happen when your subjects feel the most comfortable around the camera or don't even know you are there. Remember, a candid portrait usually means the subject is caught in an action and usually isn't looking at the camera. This gives you a chance to be a little sneaky. Here are a few ways I make sure my subjects forget that I am there:
Candid photos on canvas are most impactful when they capture a bit of the subject’s actions, whether it’s playing, working, thinking, or any other activity. You can up the impact by stepping back from your subjects to include a background that adds context to the activity. Consider a shot of a young woman with a flower. If your shot is tight on the woman’s upper body you might miss the impact of where she is: in a field, at a farmer’s market, or even a flower market in an exotic locale. Including backgrounds like these can add to the intimacy and meaning of your candid photos on canvas.
I can't write a post about candid photos without adding one of my favorite candid photos of one of my favorite people. My Grandma Lil. Love her so much...she is the definition of grandmother when you look it up in the dictionary.
This article is written for Canvas Press. To find out more about Canvas Press’ products visit www.canvaspress.com.