Tips For Taking Perfect Candid Photos

Image: Laura Lubrano

I love the look of candid pictures. There’s something about the authentic, natural emotions encapsulated in them that’s impossible to get in posed shots.

However, taking candids isn’t very easy. The goal is to capture real situations and emotions, which is only possible if your subjects don’t know they’re being photographed. In my experience, once the camera comes out, everyone seems to either group together and pose, or run away so they aren’t in the shot.

Recently, I decided to made it a priority to try to take more candid photos to add more fun and interest into my photography. Here are some tips I learned: 


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Image: Paul Van Hoy II via flickr

1. Keep your camera with you.

There’s nothing worse than witnessing that hilarious moment, but missing out on capturing it because you don’t have your camera. With almost every cell phone having a camera on it these days, there’s almost no excuse for not having a camera on you at all times.

It almost goes without saying that you’ll want your camera on you at a party or family gathering, but make sure you carry it with you while you’re out and about in your everyday life. You never know what kind of interesting moments you’ll want to capture – children playing, an emotional moment between a couple, a street performer, or just people you see around your neighborhood – so make sure your camera is always easily accessible. 


2. Be a little snap-happy.

When you’re taking candids, snap several shots at once, instead of trying to get the one perfect shot. You might be surprised at the different shots you get that you may not have otherwise gotten if you’d only taken one photo. When you’re reviewing all your shots later, you can choose the one that captures the moment perfectly.


Image: Laura Lubrano


3. Stay back.

You’ll be more likely to capture relaxed, real emotions if your subjects don’t even know they’re being photographed. It’s hard to hide if you’re in your subjects’ faces, so instead of hanging in the center of the room where the people are, stay off to the side while you snap a few pictures.

Take advantage of the zoom function on your camera (use optical zoom if possible, since digital zoom can make your pictures blurry) to get that up-close-and-personal-shot – even if you’re standing several feet away.


4. Use creative framing.

Another way to keep yourself out of the spotlight when you’re trying to take candid shots is to include an object (like a tree branch or another person’s body) in the foreground of your shot. You can make it seem like you are taking a picture of it, but instead, use it to frame your subjects.

As Digital Photo Secrets notes, this trick will help hide you from your actual intended subjects. It also adds an interesting sense of depth to your picture.


Image: Laura Lubrano


5. Don’t be flashy.

Another dead giveaway to taking pictures is that obnoxious, and oh-so-obvious, flash. Whenever a flash bulb goes off, everyone usually turns to see where it came from, effectively ruining “the moment” you’re trying to capture.

Instead, turn that flash off and work with the light you’ve got (whether it’s from the sun or indoor light bulbs), and play around with your aperture, light and speed settings. Expert Photography recommends using a fairly fast ISO, such as 400, and widening the aperture to blur the background and put the focus on the subject.


6. Take the camera away from your face. 

Instead of positioning your camera right in front of your face at all times, try holding it and shooting from hip-level, as suggested by Digital Photography School. Not only does this make it less obvious that you’re taking a picture, it also adds a slightly different perspective that could lead to better candids.

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Image: Laura Lubrano


7. Don’t worry about perfection.

When you’re taking candids, don’t worry too much about getting the framing, lighting, etc. just right. The point is you’re trying to capture the perfect moment, and if you’re too focused on getting a perfectly composed shot, you might miss out on that moment. Shoot first, and you can always edit later (or don’t, and relish in the perfect imperfection of your candids).

With all these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to capture some great candid shots! Just remember: don’t stay behind your camera all the time, actually enjoy the moments while you’re in them!

Do you have any tips for taking pitch-perfect candids? Share them in the comments below! 

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Laura is a freelance writer in Michigan who is inspired by the beauty in everyday life. In her free time, she enjoys cooking (and eating), DIY projects, and binge-watching Netflix.

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