Tips for Candid Photography

candid photograph is a photograph that is made either without the subject’s knowledge or without their explicit permission, hence they are captured unposed. Candid photography catches moments of life from immersion in it. Candid photography is opposed to the stalking involved in animal photography, sports photography or photographic journalistic intrusion, which all have a focus on getting distant objects photographed, e.g. by using telephoto lenses. Candid photography’s setup includes a photographer who is there with the “subjects” to be photographed, close, and not hidden. People photographed on candid shots either ignore or accept the close presence of the photographer’s camera without posing. Below are a number of tips to help photographers improve their ‘candid’ photography.

1. Be ready at all times

Do not go anywhere without your camera, as you never know when a fantastic frame will occur. Keeping the camera constantly out on show will also get guests used to seeing it, so anyone who is camera shy will begin to feel more relaxed.

2. Start walking and shooting.

If you feel like a challenge,  keep walking and don’t stop when you’re shooting your subject. You might take 50 shots and only end up with one photo that shows up in focus and in frame, but trust me, that photo will be brilliant.

Shooting from the hip also provides an unconventional angle where it gives the photo an interesting perspective. You don’t just have to shoot people – it can be landmarks, vehicles, scenery… Well, pretty much anything

Image by Brian Auer


The hard part of catching a candid portrait is that people are moving, things are passing in front of your view, and your window of opportunity passes quickly. People generally sit on benches, which means they’re not moving around too much and they might be there for more than 5 seconds. Look for the subjects that are focused on some task, such as feeding birds or reading a paper

Image by Brian Auer

3. Lose the Flash

One of the first things you need to do is turn off your flash. Whether you’re using a P&S or a dSLR, the use of a flash shouts that you’re taking pictures. Whereas, if your flash is off — you can subtly snap away and catch those great moments. Also, flashes blind people, so those expressions of joy, grief, surprise, excitement – can get wiped away by the flash.

Image By andy in nyc

4. Catch People in the Moment

And one of the best ways to improve your candid photos is to photograph people actually doing things… nothing drains the life out of a photo than having it staged; asking people to move closer and smile and change positions so so-and-so can be seen takes the energy out of any moment. The stilted nature of those types of photos (and we ALL know what I’m talking about) is what you’re fight against. Part of the fight requires you just taking pictures when your subject(s) isn’t aware; when they’re caught up in something else (listening to someone tell a story, waiting for the surprise guest to show up, etc.) is an ideal time to snap away.


I’ve used this technique from time to time with good results. Find a spot that you like — something with an interesting composition, pattern, or background. Now envision somebody in that scene as you’d like to take the photo. Get all set up… and wait for it. Somebody will eventually walk into the scene and you’ll get your shot

Image by Brian Auer

6. Photograph People with People

Something very interesting happens when you photograph more than one person in an image at a time – it introduces relationship into the shot. Even if the two (or more) people are not really interacting in the shot it can add depth and a sense of story into the viewing of the image. Of course ideally in candid shots you’d like some interaction between your subjects as that will add emotion into the shot also as we the viewer observe how the people are acting

Image by Bruce Gilden

7. Set up your Background Beforehand

This is a little out of the realm from what I have been talking about so far, but after all there are a million different ways to take a great street photograph. Search out an interesting background and then wait for the right person to come into your scene. Be patient, it might take some time.

The accompanying photo is not close-up, but I waited for hours for the right person to stop in the right position and it eventually paid off.

This practice also allows you to be in the correct position before the person comes into the scene, so you can ::gasp:: actually look through the viewfinder! Just make it look like you are taking a photo of the background. Some of the best street photographs were planned instead of found. Find the right location and wait it out until the moment happens

Image by James Maher



This blog is designed to provide photography tips and tricks and post processing tips

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