Tips for Better Candid Photography

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Photography Tips

small girl walking on city street

Photo Courtesy of Megan Youngblood

Candid photography is arguably one of the most difficult forms of photography: you have to be fast, un-intrusive and quite frankly, lucky. Nonetheless, there are many simple ways to improve your ability to take these types of photographs. Here is a list of 5 ways to improve your candid shots.

1. Be Alert!

We are constantly surrounded by activity, whether you live in a small, suburban town or Manhattan. However, because we have things to attend to each day, it is quite easy to develop tunnel vision, thinking about your grocery list on the subway train which may mean missing out on some great shots. Try to always pay attention to your surroundings. Not only is being present in the moment beneficial for your well-being, it will also open your eyes to a large amount of photography-ready scenes and situations.

2. Always Have Your Camera With You

This goes in hand with “be alert”. I think almost anyone you speak to (photographer or not) can tell you about a time when they saw someone or something and thought “Wow, that would make a beautiful photo.” As a photographer, you are obligated to capture these, so be prepared! You never know what you are going to stumble upon.
man walking down street black white

Photo Courtesy of Megan Youngblood

3. Be Patient

While you should be ready to take the best candid photo in your portfolio at any given moment, it should also be noted that there will probably pass many days where you just won’t get anything. You may even develop a few rolls of film to be disappointed by weeks worth of work, but be patient! Even the candid greats such as Cartier-Bresson or Diane Arbus discussed those frustrating periods where it seemed like all of a sudden they couldn’t take a half-decent photograph. Eventually, something will happen. This patience can be useful on a more immediate basis too. Sometimes if you see a scenario, and you just wait, you will catch the perfect moment. Don’t take the first shot you see and leave, spend a few minutes watching the action develop, taking photos as it continues. Sometimes the best photo will be right after you almost left, and you’ll be glad you were patient.

4. Shoot Loose

Many times in portraiture or other types of more formal studio photography photographers are urged to get close to their subjects, and this can definitely apply to candid photography as well. However, giving your subject a bit of room within the frame allows the viewer to see more of the context, creating more of a narrative story than an unexpected portrait.

boy sitting in subway station

Photo Courtesy of Megan Youngblood

5. Be Brave!

Sometimes it is hard to take candid photos, as most people (probably including yourself) don’t enjoy being surprised by the clicking camera lens (we all know paparazzi are probably some of the most hated people in Hollywood). However, you must persist! Think of yourself as a story-teller: as a photographer, you are always looking for beauty within what some may consider mundane or everyday. So go out and capture it.

Candid photos: do you love them or hate them? Why?

-Megan Youngblood

Trackback from your site.

Comments (1)

  • Randy Blackwell


    I think candids are great!


Leave a comment

Prove you are human to submit your comment! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.