11 Tips for Better Candid Photography

11 Tips for Better Candid Photography

Candid-2-1Candid styles of photography are increasingly becoming popular both in general day to day photography but also in formal photographic situations. Last time I was asked to photograph a wedding the couple actually hired me purely to take paparazzi style shows of them and their guests throughout the day. They had another photographer for the formal shots and gave me the brief of getting a behind the scenes look of the day.

The results, when they put together my shots with the formal ones were a wonderful blend of photos that told a fuller story than if they’d gone for one or the other.

Below are a number of tips to help photographers improve their ‘candid’ photography. Please note that these tips are not about taking sneaky, voyeuristic or true paparazzi shots (ie photographing people without their permission) but rather about how to add a more candid feel to the shots you take of people that you know.

1. Take your Camera Everywhere

Probably the best way to take spontaneous photographs is to always be ready to do so. I have a DSLR which I take out when I’m on a shoot but between shoots like to cary with a quality point and shoot camera that I can whip out at a moments notice to capture the many opportunities for a good photo that life presents us with. Taking your camera with you everywhere also helps people to be more at ease with you taking their photo. I find that my friends and family just expect me to have my camera out so when I do fire it up it’s not a signal to them to pose but it’s a normal part of our interaction – this means that they are relaxed and the photos are natural.

2. Use a Long Zoom

Obviously the further you are away from your subject the less likely they will be to know that you’re photographing them and the more natural and relaxed they’ll act. Using a telephoto lens or long zoom enables you to shoot from outside their personal space but keep the feeling of intimacy in the shot you’re taking.

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3. Kill the Flash

Perhaps the most obvious way that you can signal to another person that you’re photographing them is to use a flash. There’s nothing like a blinding flash of light in the eyes to kill a moment. If possible (and it’s not always) attempt to photograph without the flash if you’re aiming for candid shots. When in lower light situations increase your ISO setting, use a faster lens, open up your aperture or if your camera has a ‘natural light mode’ turn it on. Hopefully one or a combination of these approaches will help you blend into the background a little more.

4. Shoot lots

I’ve written about this before on this site but when you shoot multiple images quickly of a person you can sometimes get some surprising and spontaneous shots that you’d have never gotten if you shot just one. Switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and shoot in bursts of images and in doing so you’ll increase your chances of that perfect shot.

5. Position Yourself strategically

While Candid Photography is about capturing the spontaneity of a moment and getting that perfect shot at the right split second of time I find that if you think ahead and anticipate what is about to unfold in front of you that you can greatly increase the chances of getting some great shots. So at a wedding get to the church early (or even go to the rehearsal) and think about what will happen during the ceremony and where will be best for you to stand to capture each moment. Which way will people be facing? What will they be doing? What will the light be like? Thinking through these issues will save you having to run around repositioning yourself when you should be shooting images – it’ll also mean you take a whole heap less shots of the back of people’s heads!

6. Photograph People Doing things

Images of people doing things tend to be much more interesting than people sitting passively doing nothing. For one your subject will be focussed upon something which adds energy to a photo (and takes their focus off you) but it also puts them in context and adds an element of story to your image. Timing is everything in Candid shots so wait until they are distracted from you and fully focussed upon what they are doing or who they are with and you’ll inject a feeling into your shots of them being unaware and that the viewer of your image is looking on unseen.

7. 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.

8. Shoot from the Hip

If your subject is aware that you’re there and that you have your camera out they might tense up or act a little unnaturally as they see you raising your camera to the eye. The beauty of digital cameras is that it doesn’t cost you anything to take lots of shots and it can be well worth shooting without raising your camera. To do this most effectively you might want to set your lens to a wider angle setting to make up for any aiming problems you might have.

9. Mix up your Perspective

The other beauty of shooting from the hip is that it gives you a slightly different perspective to take the shot from (ie shooting from 3 feet height instead of 6). This adds to the candid nature of the shots. In fact sometimes it’s the slightly crooked, slightly out of focus or poorly composed shots taken from this type of angle that ends up looking the best because they come across as quite random. Of course you can add all these new perspectives to your shots without shooting from the hip. Crouch down, get up high, frame your shots on an angle, zoom in close and then quickly zoom out to a wide angle, break the rules of composition etc and you will add a new perspective to your shots that can mean they look fresh and surprising.


10. Frame Images with Foreground Elements

A trick that I often use in candid shots is to purposely include something in the foreground of the shot to make it look as though I’m hiding behind it. You might do this with by shooting over someone’s shoulder, by including a little of a tree branch or the frame of a doorway.

11. Take Posed Shots into Candid Territory

One of my favorite times to shoot candid shots is when other people are taking formal ones. This is because everyone in the shot is focused on the one element (the other photographer) – but it’s not you. If the main photographer has posed the happy couple of the day or their bridal partly look for a different angle to them to take a shot of the same subject. Often if you take a few steps to the side and shoot from almost a profile position you can get great shots. Also zooming in to take shots of just one or two of the people in a larger group at these times can work well. Also try zooming right out to take a shot of the photographer and their subject all in one. If you’re the only photographer and you’re taking formal shots a great technique is to take your posed shot and then continue to shoot after everyone thinks you’ve finished. It’s often the shots just after the posed one that are the best as people relax and look at each other.


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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • Jermaine June 28, 2013 07:21 am

    I think candid photography is much more better than boring formal shots! You can really feel the vibe of an event from more informal candid shots. Laughter, looks, people's body tones---these tell the real stories of how an event proceeded. These tips will be helpful for street shots as well; I should probably incorporate more people into my own hobby photographs.

  • Susie May 21, 2013 11:50 am

    Mmmm.... looking at some of the earlier comments, why would you be taking portraits if you're scared?! This is something to be passionate about - and the results will show in your images. Be confident with your camera and your ability.
    There are some wonderful tips in this article - thanks for sharing!

  • Kevin Le Vu Photography May 10, 2013 05:36 pm

    Darren, thank you so much for all the helpful tips! Going to start incorporating them in this weeks wedding! Merci!

  • Rohit January 4, 2013 12:23 am

    Dear Mr. Darren, thank you very much for the detailed class about candid photography. really helpful. thank you!!

  • Amir August 31, 2012 04:24 am

    We use 9 and 10 on a regular basis and it really works. Nice write-up.

  • Keith Towers May 25, 2012 05:47 am

    Great tips above. My tip is to project yourself outside of what is happening all around you so that you see everything happening all at once. Amazingly, you can make your self almost invisible by doing that, and you can almost see what's going to happen before it does so you can get the image you want without a struggle.

  • (wedding car hire devon|wedding cars devon February 24, 2012 02:01 am

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  • michmunch January 23, 2012 09:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing! When I got married, I specifically told my wedding photographer to ensure that the majority of pics was candid and boy was he surprised as most Chinese weddings were full of cheesy posed shots. He was pretty happy to do so as it gave him artistic freedom & churned some of the best pics of the night! It was in 2005 & his firm is John Lim Photography. I firmly believe that if you restrict a photographer or are unfamiliar with his style, it can create a lot of misunderstandings. Believe in your photographer and he/she will gift you with splendid pics!! :)

  • Kayla January 5, 2012 03:15 pm

    Very helpful! I'm going to be a candid photographer in a wedding this weekend for the first time, so this helps!

  • White Petal Wedding Photography Devon December 30, 2011 03:37 am

    Good set of tips, agree with thge Kill the Flash comment, that's why I love My Nikon D700, great in low light situations!

  • Photography G November 1, 2011 03:01 am

    I agree with this tip "shoot multiple images quickly of a person you can sometimes get some surprising and spontaneous shots". In order to do this, one must use a camera of good quality.

    For Wedding Photography in Denver, contact Photography G.

  • Vivika's Photography October 14, 2011 08:41 am

    The best shots come from candid photography.
    I like number 11 the best.
    Thank you for some fun ideas.

  • sam August 25, 2011 07:05 pm


  • Prophoto Wedding Photographer - Perth, WA August 13, 2011 06:07 pm

    Some great suggestions in this article, as a professional wedding photographerProphoto Wedding Photographer I always suggest to any new wedding photographers to get good lenses 70-200 f2.8 is my most used lens and don't be afriad to keep your flash off for as much as possible during your wedding photography.

  • Posterjack August 13, 2011 06:13 am

    Candid photography isn't something that we as canvas printers see a lot of these days. Most photos submitted to us are very artistic shots; landscapes, modeling, posing, etc. Picture 3 is the perfect example of a beautiful canvas print. What could bring more joy on a huge print than an enlarged shot of you and your loved one in a moment of raw happiness?
    That's something we had in mind when starting our company, and something we'd like to see more of down the road.

  • Atlanta Wedding Photographers C Brown photo July 19, 2011 12:40 am

    As a wedding photojournalist, who never looks forward to the formal photos, I use #11 all the time. I actually prefer to second shoot during formal, so I can focus on the in between moments.

  • Philadelphia Wedding Photographers July 13, 2011 12:38 pm

    Candids are always people's favorites - they show you in your best, natural light!

  • Seattle photographers July 4, 2011 04:34 am

    Hi ,
    There is so much great information in this post. I especially like #10 about framing the picture with an out of focus person in the foreground is classic. As a professional Seattle photographer I use it in my event coverage as well as my wedding photography thank you for this and all of the information on this site.

  • Washington DC Wedding Photographer June 23, 2011 11:02 pm

    Great post! I emphasize #3 and #7 the most. Thanks.

  • bryan June 10, 2011 03:05 pm

    tip 4... shoot shooot shoooot

  • Denver wedding photographers May 20, 2011 08:48 pm

    Good points here. I always love looking at candid shots. As you can see the real emotion of the person you are taking picture. It's priceless.

  • Mario Caldeira Fotografo May 13, 2011 10:23 am

    Nice Post!!!

  • Jacqueline Boss May 8, 2011 07:17 am

    Good idea to shoot from your hip. My friends do this when we go to museums and temples and such things abroad, where there are "no photo" signs everywhere. Come on, I've got to take a picture of the giant golden Buddah! But my friends have it so their cameras don't do the orange pre-flash thing. Sneaky sneaky.

    Here's a funny post I wrote about How to be a Photo Ninja. Check it out if youre interested.

  • Esse April 20, 2011 04:52 pm

    Great posts. I wish to add that making photography is my favorite hobby. And usually I take camera with me everywhere I going. Thanks for good advices ;)

  • Nico April 15, 2011 11:24 pm

    Tip number 12 - Never Be Shy.

  • preti_pilya April 10, 2011 03:51 am

    Awesome! I like this... Thanks!

  • malayan.amateur March 30, 2011 08:33 pm

    i really like this article. it help me a lot..coz i'm just an amateur in this field..hope ur upcoming article will help me to be better coz i love phography like crazy!!!!!!!

  • PKP March 30, 2011 08:14 pm

    Very helpful! Thanks!

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  • Stacy Wilson March 8, 2011 04:01 am

    You guys are a bunch of retards. You really need to get a camera that a real man can carry and tune in to the camera channel.

    Get a life

  • Houston Family Photographer March 6, 2011 02:06 pm

    As a fellow photographer, I appreciate the information you have posted here.

  • perawatan vagina February 26, 2011 07:42 pm

    Thank You for such a great idea!....

  • Crykit February 21, 2011 02:04 pm

    I always turn the flash off anyway, candid or not. I hate the shadows it casts and the bluish tint it gives. Makes it look fake. :/

  • James Reyes January 19, 2011 04:16 pm

    Great tips, I just need to practice them more now.

  • Ice Sculpting South Carolina October 28, 2010 09:38 am

    Candid shots helps the bride and groom remember what the day truly was like. It helps you to remember things that you normally would have forgotten. These are really beautiful shots. Well done.

  • Theosus October 25, 2010 08:22 am

    I completely agree with #11. My friend asked me to take candid shots during his wedding,
    Before and after the ceremony. I took a picture of the bride outside, from an angle as she posed for the main photographer. It was a beautiful picture, and she wound up using it in the paper when she announced her wedding. I would say make sure the photographer is aware you will be there too, before you intrude on his posed shots.

  • Wedding Reception Utah October 8, 2010 08:23 am

    Turning off the flash to get more candid shots is a great idea. It's also really wise to take your camera everywhere with you. You never know when a picture perfect moment will come up.

  • www.internationalwed.com October 7, 2010 06:25 pm

    I especially like the last tip. Very interesting!

  • Cape Town Wedding Photographer September 18, 2010 01:26 am

    Such useful information - as always!

  • gomathi September 15, 2010 02:54 am

    awesome..... i liked the tips..

  • dott August 19, 2010 10:37 pm

    I've never tryed candid photography but, reading this article, it seems very amusing :D

  • Smokinphoto August 7, 2010 10:59 am

    #7 and #10 were the best tips. It's amazing to see articles like this. I love some of these pics.
    I'd love for some of the photography enthusiasist to visit our site at Smokinphoto

  • Devin Jones August 6, 2010 03:06 pm

    Thank for the tips and to everyone who has posted with more information regarding this sort of photography. I'm currently in school and taking a photography class; thinking about doing something like this for my final. It seems like a bunch of fun and people enjoy candid shots rather than those that are set.

  • Erick @ Best of Wedding Photography July 7, 2010 03:04 am

    Darren, it never ceases to amaze me how you manage to write about such diverse areas of photography and always have something worthwhile and accurate to say. These are great tips made so simple as to seem obvious, but many a photographer would see a significant improvement in their imagery by trying these out.

    Wedding Photographer - New York

  • Lea May 28, 2010 08:26 pm

    Evening all....i have to agree although i am just a beginner in the wonderful world of photography i use my 200mm lense all the time at outings and parties to get wondeful candid shots. I have teen girls and they dont necessarily like to be photographed up close so somedays it is the only way to capture them.

  • anne smith May 19, 2010 07:17 pm

    i enjoyed tips as I am a i will save this site.

  • peter May 13, 2010 11:56 pm

    Defenitely goods tips for great fun.
    I recently bought a new DLSR camera with a perfect zoom lens and a teleconverter inside the body.
    This makes candid photography very easy.

  • Eric - Oahu Wedding Photographer April 20, 2010 05:39 pm

    I do agree with wide for street shots where you can shoot from the hip. At a wedding,it is great to be able to shoot with a long lens though. I'd say I'm at 200mm around 70% of the time when I'm shooting candids at a reception.

  • Fotografia ?lubna Lublin March 31, 2010 05:16 am

    "Take your Camera Everywhere"- is the key .

  • Karen March 14, 2010 03:29 am

    Great Post very useful.

  • Doug Miranda Photography March 1, 2010 10:54 am

    #3 kill the flash is a really big one if you want to be able to take great candid photos!!


    Sacramento wedding photographer

  • Daniel February 24, 2010 02:00 pm

    I particularly like #11...I've been the main photographer on a wedding but quite often losing the opportunity to do candids...I don't really mind others taking set up shots as I do per event...not by print sales, makes more sense to charge by events.

  • Laura February 3, 2010 08:49 am

    My photographers at my wedding had some fabulous candid shots while we were getting formal shots done. Someone would laugh and it would make the photo just that little bit better. We got different angles and different perspectives.

  • Tarun December 20, 2009 05:20 pm

    Great article. I'll come back to it again and a again as a reference.

    Also, love your TwiTip Twitter Tips.

    Keep up the great work.

    thank you !

  • Swiss JHG Photo December 16, 2009 06:42 am

    Very good listing of things to think about when shooting in the crowd (event, wedding, ceremony, cocktails...). The point 3 (no flash) is actually probably one of the hardest to put into action when working in low light conditions.

  • PatriciaD December 16, 2009 06:26 am

    These are so great!! Thanks for sharing. I'm going to give a link to your site on my blog, if that's ok!! Well, actually, I've already done it so if it's not be sure to let me know. Great stuff!!

  • Baltimore Wedding Photographer December 11, 2009 06:37 am

    Totally agree with #5. Thanks for the great post!

  • Curtis Copeland December 10, 2009 06:17 am

    More great insight into photography. These are all outstanding ways to take better candid photography. Thanks for sharing!


    Wedding Photography Miami

  • Aspen Wedding Photographer December 7, 2009 02:00 am

    Great tips. I think all photographers should have to read this. Thanks for sharing.

    Aspen Wedding Photography

  • daniel November 25, 2009 11:47 am

    What a wonderful idea of having 2 photographers at the wedding divide the tasks of shooting candid and formal portraits. It must be so much fun to be free to just shoot the candids and not worry about the formal posed portraits.
    Thanks again for offering such great ideas through this school.

  • Vail Wedding Photographer November 21, 2009 03:05 am

    Great ideas. I really think candid photos are what makes photos special. Something staged just takes away from the special moments that you really want to remember.

  • Jennifer November 10, 2009 07:09 am

    I personally love candid photos because they actually capture the sheer emotion in the subjects. Great tips and a very enjoyable read. Keep up the great articles.

  • Steven November 4, 2009 02:35 am

    Tip #3 is the best advice you can give. Not only does it keep the subject unaware, but is also creates a better mode for most events.

  • Michael Graham October 26, 2009 05:49 pm

    As a documentary wedding photographer the one thing that you must be able to do is anticipate moments as they come and be sensitive to capture those emotions.

  • Ken October 14, 2009 04:21 am

    Thank you for these very helpful tips. As always this is the best site for helpful info.

  • DARYL DESCALLAR September 30, 2009 07:20 am

    Thanks Darren. Your tips are giving fresh excitement in my photography works.
    God bless you. Daryl

  • Life with Kaishon September 21, 2009 04:39 am

    This was a very helpful article. Thank you very much! I love these images! Lovely!

  • elizabeth archibong September 21, 2009 12:05 am

    great article! simple and effective tips...especially like points 5, 6 and 7...works everytime.

    London Wedding Photographer

  • Sunny Mathur September 12, 2009 04:35 am

    I completely agree with tip #2, using a long zoom wedding guests are not aware that you are even there or snapping away, it allows them to be more candid and natural. Great article, thank you for the tips.

    Washington DC Wedding Photographer

  • Michael Graham August 31, 2009 01:50 pm

    very nice article...thanks Darren.

  • Yaeko Boudoir August 19, 2009 07:02 am

    Great tips. Thank you. I like tip #7 and #8. I never thought about "shooting from the hip" but next wedding i will try it.

  • wal August 7, 2009 04:00 pm

    great tip. thanks for sharing... love every one of them/..

  • wes hamachi August 7, 2009 04:00 am

    "Steve Says:

    May 4th, 2007 at 12:09 pm
    On #11, Most wedding professionals will get pretty ticked (and rightly so) if you start snapping away at their set up poses. They’re working hard getting things set up right, and risk losing some print sales if a skilled amateur makes a “stolen” shot available to the couple.

    I’ve gotten dirty looks, and been asked to stop by pros when they thought I was going to do this."

    -- thats y pros are pros,. their pics should look better than amateur shots. a pro gives a reason to purchase prints. ie touch up and printing service. we have no excuse. if other people want to shoot during my gig, i have no problem with that.

  • Yaeko Photography August 5, 2009 02:21 pm

    thanks Darren...
    Very useful tips - Nr.4 describes me :-) Of course practice makes perfect, but I think, if you keep these tips in mind - you are one the right way. Thanks for sharing. Natascha

  • Tau Battice July 21, 2009 03:38 pm


    Excellent tips. Keep them coming.

  • Laura Higgins July 21, 2009 12:40 am

    Great suggestions...Thanks

  • Armida July 3, 2009 09:45 am

    You are really cool! I have done the above tips and added a few more on the list you've mentioned and the results are amazing photos from my kid's birthday party..Really awesome!

  • Becky July 2, 2009 01:41 am

    Great tips! I did a wedding this summer as the second photographer and my assignment was to take the candid shots to support the first phototgrapher whose assignment was to take the formal shots. As you stated, the combination of our shots was perfect! I also found comment #11 especially pertinent ... my "candid" shots from the side of the "formal/posed" shots were really nice. Thanks for all of the tips ...very helpful!

  • Monica Proano June 18, 2009 06:29 am

    I just got engaged and we're getting married May of 2010. I am interested in a photographer who does candid shots, with some 'posed' shots. There are SO many choices. I am getting married in Farmingdale, NY in a church and the reception will be held in Great Neck, NY. If anyone may refer someone who does this type of work and can please keep the cost down. I would appreciate any recommendations for this. I prefer a recommendation than going to someone blindly. Thank you! = )

  • Digi Anna May 20, 2009 02:30 pm

    Thank you for the great tips. Hope to capture great shots like you did.. ^_^

  • Navdeep Singh May 13, 2009 06:24 pm

    Obviously you give us fantastic articles on photography.I am a wedding photographer in PUJAB state of INDIA . Ithink your tips give professional touch to my job specially CANDID PHOTO tips.Here (where i live)wedding photographer give wedding albums to custmer which have not any artistic or dramatic work & also albums not shows the story of the great day.I want do some different so i think your website & article must give a change in my work. WAHEGURU (GOD) BLESS YOU.

  • Prashant J May 13, 2009 03:31 am

    This is very informative and interesting for the one's like me, who are just starting photography... :-)

    Please give some tips for me... on how to start... what camera to buy... what lenses to buy...


  • photographik April 22, 2009 09:04 am

    Excellent article. Maybe you can write one for us too!!! :-)

  • Jerome April 22, 2009 03:10 am

    Great tips indeed. Your tips are always are helpful and easy to follow. Please keep up the good work!

  • bachtiar April 21, 2009 04:27 am

    nice tips for the beginner like me! darren i wont ask you, where i cant find the founder to support me ???
    cause i`m need photographer equipment support.
    i`m not rich but ilike photography.
    so help me please ( wish me luck )
    thxs so much...

  • Dave Z. April 5, 2009 07:04 am

    Great article. I come back to it again and a again as a reference.

    Also, love your TwiTip Twitter Tips.

    Keep up the great work.


  • Regina April 1, 2009 05:15 pm

    I love the 'shooting from the hip' idea! I'm going to try that while shooting with my other camera.

  • paul david March 24, 2009 12:40 pm

    man, you're so good and realistic!

    Your tips and insights fuel our hearts in photography.

    Xie xie...

  • bobbyv February 6, 2009 01:06 pm

    Great article! I am a believer in candid shots myself, as they tell a story and can bring back memories, forcing the people photographed to try to remember what was happening at that moment.

    Once I brought my DSLR to a friend's wedding, and as there were professional photographers, I tried to focus on those shots I knew the pros would not bother with, as they would normally do the standard posed pictures. My friend appreciated my photos more than those of the pros.

    Some practices I have adopted:
    * like the tip above, I also take pictures of the photograhers, especially when many of them are taking pictures of the same thing at the same time.
    * if I am in a posed shot with a group and have my camera, I sometimes take a photograph of the person taking the photograph. If the other photographer catches me doing that in his photograph, you have 2 photographs you can relate to each other - i.e., you can see yourself in his picture taking his picture, and you imagine the view from your position and his
    * I find that a wide angle lens is perfect for candids, since people in the periphery are mostly not aware that they are in the photograph.
    * I normally take portrait (vertical) shots with my right arm in the upper position, with the camera hanging off my right hand (i.e. the camera is at 270 degrees). If you reposition this with the right hand below the camera (i.e. camera at 90 degrees), your posture is less conspicuous and intimidating. Best with a fast telephoto lens (e.g. Nikkor 85mm f/1.8) and no flash.
    * another opportunity is when other photographers are reviewing the shots they just took on their cameras with friends. This is great composition because they are looking at the same thing and often have interesting facial expressions as they review the photos. I have great pictures of parents showing their kids the pictures they just took of them.


  • latisha January 27, 2009 06:57 am

    i came across your articles and I have been enjoying everything you have to say. thanks for sharing! i have a wedding coming up in two weeks and its my first and oh my i am a bit nervous and but really excited. reading through your articles are a huge help and i will continue. if you are up for it i would love if you could look at my work and tell me what you think...i have been shooting for only about a little over two months. i have always had a desire to be a photographer, so the doors opened and people keep calling, which i am so excited but i want to get better and better as time goes on.


  • Yosemite Wedding Photography December 29, 2008 06:27 pm

    In reference to Bob's question above about a cheap camera that is great for candids, look for a camera with fast startup, quick shot-to-shot specs such as the Panasonic LX3. We like wide angle lenses that can focus very fast generally have great depth of field so that you can react with split second timing to your environment and get the shot depending on ultrafast autofocus, When the setting dictates using a zoom, however OR the lighting isn't great, there is no substitute fro a DSLR AND a high quality zoom or prime lens.


  • Rebecca December 20, 2008 01:02 am

    Thanks for this article! I like to travel and it's about time that I incorporate photography into the mix. I agree with "killing the flash." There's nothing like "seeing stars" after someone takes a picture with a flash!

  • Ken Mendoza - Bay Area Wedding Photojournalist December 12, 2008 04:18 am

    Kill the flash - Amen!!

    There is no easier way to kill a natural candid situation than a flash. Having said that, if you need to use a flash, tone it down (flash exposure compensation) and point it away from the subject for a more natural look. Also realize that if you have a candid moment and you're using a flash you'll have one chance and one chance only. That's one reason why there will always be a need for pro photographers.

  • bogart December 4, 2008 03:49 pm

    Best photos come from candid shots.

  • Julie Harris Photographers September 13, 2008 09:07 am

    Love the last tip. I HATE boring, predictable "formals" and always try to funk it out a bit, play with poses, juxtapositions, etc. Try to make something that is rather boring into something fun and candid.

  • CJAYJR August 3, 2008 07:39 am

    Responding to Author: lilnassau comments.

    Ref: All the Photos and no Photographer,

    I've taken a lesson from a couple movie directors and writers like Alfred Hitchcock, Spike Lee and Stephen King and have put myself in a lot of events I've shot by shooting myself. That's why I like my small Fuji E900 because I can hold it in one hand and photograph myself. I've also shot my wife and I together holding the camera far away as I possible could and snapped - four or five times and usually one of those shots is perfect! I've held the camera behind my head to make it look like someone else is shooting me from behind or from the side as my wife and walk through the park capturing both of us. Sometimes I look into the camera and other times I look away but I always try to include myself in scene. The more people around the beter the shot. Some of my best shot of me have been taken by me! So try it and you'll be surprised of the effect you get.

    Shooting from the hip - especially when your ammo is almost unlimited.


  • lilnassau August 2, 2008 07:50 am

    i agree totally, candid shots are always good for gatherings. Ive been taking candid shots for years and it an art to get the best shots at the right time, you have to read the crowd and keep a ear out for sudden changes. They help bring back fond memories and start longer conversations than posed shots.

    However it is true because I usually take a most of the pictures at family gatherings and around friends or sometimes people hire me for an event, I have very few pictures of myself. All the Photos and no Photographer, its something that we have to get used to as photographers i guess.

  • Alan C July 31, 2008 05:20 am

    I occasionally do event photography, and often there are other photographers present. If possible I at least introduce myself to the photographer, maybe try to get his business card.

    I was at one wedding reception where I knew the photographer from other events. He had his nice camera shooting away, his wife had a second camera taking group shots at the tables, he had a third camera on a tripod set near the dance floor with a remote in his pocket, so he could shoot pics from the other side of the room of people dancing. On top of that he grabbed a microphone and M.C.’d the reception. With all that going on, he still had an eye out and would tap me on the shoulder and suggest shots of the guests that he didn’t have time to get to, running in a tux with a heavy camera is hard.

    Another event, what they call a “Rave”, there were multiple photographers from different companies as well as us hobbyists . Maybe the party atmosphere got to us, because we all got along, even with the music too loud to think. One would see me taking some shots, and shoot the same subject from another angel, then we would compare shots then off to the next seen. 2000+ people ensures there’s enough subjects to go around.

    So the idea of professionals getting angry with hobbyists is foreign to me. But then again I never ran in front of the camera during a posed shot and yell “CHEESE”.

    Someone mentioned taking photos of the photographers, I do that all the time. You can see thousands of photos, but you never see the person taking the photos, or if you do they are shaky self shots, or they pass the camera off to a by standard to take the pics. Photographers appreciate when someone can get a good image of them at work.

  • Furious Photographers July 30, 2008 04:05 pm

    Candid wedding photography is straight up my alley since I have been a wedding photographer for about three years. Nice tutorials ;D

  • Bert June 12, 2008 02:34 am

    I always take candid shots.I have hardly ever take pose shots look so unatural, I also have found you dont ever take pictures with a big giant lens especially the white ones people get very offensive by them. I use a 28-135 or 85 or 135 prime move around a lot lens, Depend on light condition for most of my candid shots. I prefer prime lenses more because I can open the shutter way open so I can take fast pictures and no barrel moving in and out, plus it makes me move around a lot that eventually people will think I'm not there anymore. And always have a very large MB card and spare battery and take tons of pictures that people would actually relax a lot more because they wont even notice the typing sound from your camera when you take multiple shots from your camera...And eventually people will turn into hams that they want you to take pictures of them...

  • Mike Dubnoff Photographer June 7, 2008 08:21 am

    Number 6 is a great technique, I use it often at weddings. Any task a person is doing can result in a great shot if you are patient enough.

  • Greg May 21, 2008 02:22 am

    Great article. I especially liked #7, and the idea of 'giving a story' to the image. Thanks for the tips.

  • chka emmanuel May 17, 2008 09:45 pm

    Really great tips esspecially tip 8 that says shooting from the hip and that of killing the flash.

    would like to ask if taking candid shots must it only be of people and must it be out doors only.

    some one do reply to this.

  • Michael May 10, 2008 12:17 am

    Thanks for tips they are very helpful, especially the one about turning off the flash.
    Flash does kill the atmosphere.


  • Furious Photographers May 7, 2008 09:44 am


    As a professional wedding photographer, I have never really thought of what makes a candid photographer. This page puts everything what I have been trying to preach to my friends is on this one page!


    Los Angeles Wedding Photographer

  • Spino April 27, 2008 09:08 pm

    yes, nice article indeed.
    I take my candid shots from a small "prosumer" camera with a power, fast zoom (12x).
    I go where other people are photographing and I capture my prey before she realizes...
    I love this non-violent hunting.
    the women are the preys; the fetish is the frame.
    here, some gallery of images:
    well, I believe the tele is the best for the humans...

    take care bros,

  • Dave Nofmeister February 20, 2008 07:12 am

    Very nice article. Ever since my wedding, and watching our photographer at work (and resulting in beautiful work), I've been very excited about photography. Hopefully I can learn to take such wonderful pictures myself someday.

  • Kristin Martori December 5, 2007 03:18 am

    Tips and techniques from HP Digital Photography to improve your digital photos and make them stand out in your photo album.

  • diegs December 1, 2007 05:07 am

    Great tips, just one more thing, practice, practice, and practice. Enjoy.

  • Paul August 16, 2007 05:56 pm

    I only do reportage /candid style weddings, as I find the old fashioned line-them-up-and-shoot-them style very boring.

    My couples are always really happy with this style, as they get to see images of things that happened during the day, that they didn't see.

    Guests are happy too, as they didn't get ordered about for hours, and could enjoy the fun.


  • John August 7, 2007 12:14 am

    Great article. I was asked to shoot my first wedding and did most of it with a candid style. The couple was thrilled with the different perspective. Here is a link to the pictures:


  • Maria June 27, 2007 07:29 am

    The above article is really interesting. I've been asked to shoot a family portrait of a mum and 2 boys aged 3 & 5. I really like the candid shots and am now having difficulty on creative thinking.. how best can I capture a candid family portrait. Any ideas ?

  • Nick June 3, 2007 12:35 pm

    Here's a few shots from a wedding that you might be interested in - several of your points illustrated here!

  • Dave New May 31, 2007 11:57 am

    Jodi and Bob,

    If there was such a thing, it would put all the pros out of business.

    Above a certain minimal investment (which it appears that neither of you are willing or able to make) it doesn't really matter. Instead, the skill of the photographer will predominate.

    If you really want a cheap camera that takes good pictures, get a 35mm compact film camera. They have the advantage of having excellent optics, a 'full-frame' sensor, and wide exposure latitude, especially when shooting negative print film. $100 will get you one with all the bells and whistles, like an Olympus Stylus.

    Most digicams are crap, with a few notable exceptions, which are only a little less crap. See http://theonlinephotographer.blogspot.com/search?q=crap

    Otherwise, plan on spending about $1000 total for a DSLR body and a good fast lens or two. Or you can save on the DSLR body and get a nice film one for a lot less. Don't scrimp on the lenses, though.

  • bob May 31, 2007 01:10 am

    just wanted to know a cheap camera that produces great shots

  • Jim Buckman May 29, 2007 11:16 pm

    Very interesting article. I always thought that candids were a strong point of mine. As it turns out, I have been always using all of these tips. I used these at a wedding, this past weekend. Some of the technical stuff, I am learning to apply to my new digital camera. In my search, I got one with a 12X optical zoom. I can either use this a point and shoot or fine tune in other modes. I switch between candid stills and candid mpegs. I always hated flash photos. I usually use 400ASA or higher on my film cameras. I always like catch people in natural mode rather than in poses. As far as dealing with professionals, I stay out of there way. I am not exactly getting the same shot that they are and without flash, there is no chance to ruin their shot.

  • Cruise Jones May 29, 2007 09:21 pm

    Great article. Thanks, cruise

  • Lisa C May 29, 2007 04:40 pm

    Thanks for the valuable information. The only thing I would add is that, when you are taking action photos with a digital camera (example: you hear someone telling a humorous story with a punchline coming and you want to capture the laughter that follows), you've got to begin to take the shot a few seconds before the anticipated moment happens, even if it means, as the author indicated, a burst of photos before you get what you want. I've lost many good pictures by trying to snap the photo dead on the moment. You wind up pressing the button, only to find that in the second or two it takes to complete the photo, the moment has happened (the laugh is gone and the person is now either walking away, turning head away from camera, making an undesirable face). This is the one thing I've had to practice the hardest with digital photography, and continue to work on.

  • cece May 27, 2007 08:02 am

    For those who are asking about point-and-shoot cameras: I've had two Sony point-and-shoots and have had pretty good success with both. Both are easy to handle, and the newer one (8.1 megapixel) has virtually no "lag time" between shots.

    Thanks for the info. I'm attending a special out-of-town wedding this summer and will use most of the tips (and a large memory card) as I shoot candids, starting at the rehearsal dinner through the wedding day and the brunch on the day after. I'll download my "good" shots onto a disc to leave for the bride and her family.

  • George May 27, 2007 07:29 am

    Camera Shamera. I'm a pro and I challange anyone to look at a picture and tell what the camera was used, with perhaps the exception of large formats. It really doesn't matter as much as you think. When asked what to buy I generally tell people to buy from a camera company and not someone who makes printers or TV's.

  • Travel Photographer May 26, 2007 01:28 am

    Excellent reference. Candids are always tough, and this is a good starting point for new portrait photographers.

  • jodi May 25, 2007 09:43 am

    i just wanted to know a cheap camera that produces great shots i tend to like Kodak but it not a rule for me

  • Cass May 18, 2007 11:22 am

    Great tips. Thank you!

  • Tom May 18, 2007 12:17 am

    must say ive. been taking photo of wedding for 20 years and the biggest problem is people getting in the way.most professional are paid in advance,half of what they recieve.and the remainder when pic. are recieved.which is a set ahead of time for a set amount of photo"s and anything else is a plus. so people shoot on. By the way thats how i started .

  • Mike May 11, 2007 02:37 pm

    From experience, professional event photogs are not necessarily concerned so much about losing posed shot sales to event guests with cameras – unless we're talking about a guest who shows up with a 1Ds or a Hasselblad and is clearly also a pro or serious amateur.

    The largest concern seems to be with you as a guest getting in the way of the professional doing her job. If you are standing around taking shots you may be distracting the subjects (bride, groom, bar mitzvah boy, honoree) and screwing up the professional's shots.

    E.g., "Which camera should we look at?" I've seen several instances when the professional photographer, at an amateur-shooter-heavy event, finally had to insist that at a minimum the guest shooters stand behind her or right next to her, shooting over her shoulder, because it was the only way to keep the subjects looking more or less at the professional's camera.

    It's all understandable: everyone wants to have a good time and for many (most!) people taking pictures and having friends take pictures is a big part of that good time. But the advice to be cautious and respectful of the professional's tasks is good. Above all, if you can shoot without being a distraction (say, with that 12x-zoom Lumix FZ-5 or your DSLR and 200mm tele), that's the best of both worlds. And the pro won't even know... :-)

  • ruby May 10, 2007 07:01 pm

    Great tips there :)
    I am a bit new to the prptography world, I like to take photos of almost anything, these tips will definitely help me take nicer pics. :)

  • CJAYJR May 10, 2007 05:22 am

    First let me say I am by no means a professional photographer and with that out of the way, I am truly a shoot from the hip photographer. Having been the family historian/photographer for most family outtings shooting from the hip has become more fashionable with digital photograpy because of the cost factor. I agree with many of the tips presented and have used many in my shoots. I make it a point to get down at the level of small children instead of shooting down at them and lay on my stomach to shot family pets and have given my camera (point & shoot - P&S) to the kids to let them take photos of other children and adults just to get their perspective on the day's event. With the only limit being my storage device and the resolution (always high) being my only restrictions, I'll shoot over 500 shots or more as long as I've got extra battery power. If you have not checked out Blurb.com and you are a photographer - please do, you'll love what's happening there. Again, all the tips are great and candid is the way to go - it captures who we are - as we are - living life to the fullest, laughing, loving, and crying and just having fun. I think the worst thing you can do is have kids pose for a picture - its stops their free spirit and freezes it as something they're not - lifeless! As the photographer it's your job to - catch'em! Thanks, I truly enjoyed everyone's comments. Shoot'em it don't hurt'em.

  • Bryan Villarin May 8, 2007 03:45 am

    For tip #1, "Take your Camera Everywhere," how do you all carry a point-and-shoot camera everywhere?

    With my [Jack Bauer] messenger bag, it's fine. Without that, it's cumbersome with keys, cell phone, and wallet.

    Perhaps I should always wear cargos or pants with a dedicated cell phone pocket? :)

  • Matthew May 7, 2007 05:27 pm

    I like to use a 100mm lens for these situations. This allows you to stand just far enough away so as not to draw too much attention. A longer lens suffers from the combined drawbacks of a smaller aperture and the need for a faster shutter speed to avoid blurriness, both of which work against suggestion #3 (kill the flash), which I strongly agree with. If you have sufficient freedom to move about consider a fixed length lens because they are usually sharper than a zoom lens because the optics are simpler.

  • deuts May 7, 2007 03:47 am

    Great tips here! However, how long can a long zoom be? Will an 85mm f1.8 be enough? :)

  • the barefoot photographer May 6, 2007 04:15 am

    One of the techniques I use when taking photos of large groups is literally put the camera "down" and get them to do silly facial exercises. Stick their tongues out, tilt their heads forward-n-back, screw up their eyes as tight as they can, puff their cheeks out, etc, but with the camera obviously not pointed at them, so they relax.

    This will get most of them smiling naturally, so that when I say "OK - now look at me, two, three..." I usually get relaxed natural expressions. But it also gets them to trust me, so if I say "no picture, but everyone look really stern" they'll do it, then relax and smile. And then, as was already mentioned, after the intentional photo, just keep firing another dozen shots. Back when it was film, there was always a pause between shots while winding, but that actually helped. Usually by the 4th or 5th, the one frozen-face hold out would usually resume their actual natural expression.

  • Tom L May 6, 2007 12:25 am

    I've used Tip #11 a lot. It's my favorite at weddings or graduations. I've never had a professional chase me off his set-up, maybe because I'm a wedding guest.
    While he's setting up and gathers the wedding party together and they are interacting is a good time to shoot. He might be less upset.
    Also, when someone else at the reception gathers up a group for a photo I find those are great candid shots as well - they don't notice you.

  • Jada May 5, 2007 03:27 pm

    I'm not sure that photo was specifically for point #3. I think it was just a few candid photos taken at weddings and placed strategically on the page, rather that specific examples of particular points. For example, the two kids with the book are a good example of point #6, but the photo is better placed on the page further down. Not that any of that matters anyway. They're great tips however they're laid out.

  • Jeff Billimek May 5, 2007 12:31 pm

    It's a bit ironic that the photo you use in #3 ('Kill the flash') actually had a flash used in the photo. If you click through and go to the properties for that photo on flickr (http://flickr.com/photo_exif.gne?id=26231570) you'll see that the flash was fired. If you look closely, that photos was used with a flash bounced off of the ceiling. This is probably better advice than killing the flash completely.

  • Simeâ„¢ May 5, 2007 09:00 am

    ....and I just realised I referred to the wedding photographer as a bloke... apologies!

    Sime™ Quotes: I reckon a wedding photographer has to expect people to take “his” photos… monkey see, monkey do.

    his or her!...

    (My wedding photographer didn't get us our photos back for over a year!!!... Would have loved to have more candids really, but everyone is different, anyway - off topic, apologies)

  • Sara May 5, 2007 07:43 am

    Good tips. I would add another one: stick around well after you think you've got all you need. This applies both to the event as a whole, as well as "mini events" like the groom drinking beer with his buddies beforehand.

    Also, as far as professionals being offended when they're shooting posed images, I would say: get over it. Your clients are paying you to shoot those posed pictures, and assuming you're good at what you do they're going to want (and pay for) THOSE pictures, not the ones the guests take on the sidelines. And if someone else does get a good shot, good for them. If you're upset about it - hire a second shooter to shoot candids while you're shooting the posed ones. If you're going to get bent out of shape about it, outline in your contract that you (and your assistant) are to be the only ones photographing. But don't be an a** about it - it's their wedding day, their guests should be able to enjoy the day. You're just there to document it, not run the show.

  • Alan Clifford May 5, 2007 06:52 am

    Shot between the professionals shots are interesting.


    And as for taking away business, my photos were available on the website the followind day; the professional took 3 weeks. So guess which website was passed around by the mother-of-the-bride.

  • David May 5, 2007 03:30 am

    These are great tips! I have used several of the tips at weddings and family reunions. Some follow-up on "Photograph People with People" (Tip 7) and "Take Posed Shots into Candid Territory" (Tip 11).

    "People with People" should be foremost in a your thoughts when taking candid pictures. Especially at rehearsal dinners, weddings, receptions, reunions, graduation, etc. These are the functions where generations of family and friends interact. These functions maybe the only time a given set of people will interact or see each other. This is especially true for family members such as great-grandparents, grandparents, and family living far apart.

    "Take Posed Shots into Candid Territory" is an area where you should respect the "formal" photographer. You should always ask if you can take candids. Let the "formal" photographer know you are not trying to compete with them but to supplement this "once-in-a-lifetime" experience. Also, the "formal" photographer has priority; wait to take your candid until a fraction of a second after the "formal" photographer has taken their picture. Additionally, don't try to occupy the same space as the "formal" photographer. Occupying the same space is equivalent to two cooks stirring the same pot: it does not work, the product suffers, and the cooks may clash.

  • thekevinmonster May 5, 2007 01:59 am

    the advice to set your camera to continuous is really great.

    You might get some great dynamic shots, especially if your flash is set to slow-synchro (but if you're not using a flash, you might just get blur :( )

    I was taking some pictures of my roommate dressed up in a campy costume, and some of the best shots came when my friend and I told him to just pose various ways and I switched on continuous drive.

    Trying to hold a pose is hard, and to be totally honest, I don't think a lot of people know how to pose. I'm really amateur with photography, but as a person, *I* can't pose. I think I'm looking cool, but I just look weird like someone sat me down on a stick, or like I'm staring at the camera or into space.

    If someone's going to pose, snap pictures of them getting into it and getting out of it, and milling around waiting for you to photograph them. Even if someone goes to check their phone messages or something, you might get an awesome photograph. It may not be what *you* want, but hey. It's better than getting crummy shots that were what you 'wanted'.

    Definitely, definitely, definitely get a camera that can snap pix in most conditions without a flash. That's one of the reasons I'm upgrading my camera... low light = horrible on mine.

  • Philippe Pedersen May 5, 2007 01:55 am

    Very refreshing article. Many of these are very true. I like the concept of #6 adding energy and emotion to the photo. I also agree with #7 in terms of creating depth, however, I usually try to focus in on a person's action, but I see how I could add depth by including someone else nearby. Thanks! #10 is great. On #11 I don't always find that shots would come out better this way, but sometimes I do.

  • Sime May 5, 2007 12:52 am

    Great post, nice tips... I use most of this, sometimes with good result, sometimes not. I always carry my 30D (my shoulder hates me!).. and generally take a whole lot of pictures (like christmas, D) to hopefully get a shot that I like.. big fan of shooting from the hip!

    I reckon a wedding photographer has to expect people to take "his" photos... monkey see, monkey do.

    Sime www.gtvone.com

  • Eric May 5, 2007 12:34 am

    Great article, thanks for sharing! :)

    But carrying a DSLR with big zoom lens (i.e Nikon 70-200 VR f2.8 or Canon 70-200 IS f4) will somehow attract some attention

  • Derek May 4, 2007 11:37 pm

    I'm in the same boat as Lee above.. what are some suggestions for a good p&s camera? I just got a new one, but I'm not sure I like it a whole ton..

  • tc May 4, 2007 11:32 pm

    good tips. have fun with filters too. polarizing filters can add a lot to the artistic value of your shots. additionally if you dont have a program like photoshop, download picasa from google, it provides some subtle effects that can make average pics look amazing.

  • Mohan May 4, 2007 11:27 pm

    Good one!

    #7 is very true! I never thought of it till now. 2 people in a picture is very emotionally connecting, and adds to the sensationality of the shot.

    And #10... Wow! Great tip! That example picture there, without the shoulder, would have looked a lot less candid! Thanks for a great tip!

  • Andy May 4, 2007 11:10 pm

    I liked this article because just recently i did this type of shoot at a friends wedding using most of the methods you mentioned. It was fun, and had really good results. I am proud to say that after i presented them with the album of the candids they liked it better than the professional shots. It was great fun for me too.
    Very good article with lots of good advice and ideas.

  • Olle Mattsson May 4, 2007 10:22 pm

    A lot of good tips given here! I'd like to comment on the "use a long zoom" tip: Although it is true that if you're far away you obviously need a good zoom, preferrably with IS I think it would be good to point out two facts about zooming:

    1) It'll increase the risk of your images being blurry. Especially indoors where the camera needs longer exposures

    2) Your feet is always the best zoom! In my opinion, using wideangle and get close to, or even in the middle of, the action is always neater than some paparazzi shots from across the room!

    As for the 4th tip, "shoot lots": I couldn't agree more. I once read in National Geographic that the photographer had taken something along the line of 16 000 shots for that one article (positive film!!) There were about 10 images included in the article :P So that's how it goes!

  • Tudor May 4, 2007 09:44 pm

    I like telling people that a just love taking pictures. I then like to take lots of shots from one or two meters distance from the subject. They get used to it after the first 10 minutes and most of them like being photographed (especially girls- when they get that confident/playfull look). Most people know that they have very few good pictures of themselves and want the memories and. You can promise them that you will delete the pictures if they don't look good (it's cheaper than a telephoto lens...:) )

  • Prashad May 4, 2007 09:29 pm

    About comment 3.
    I was given great advice on how to take better photos without flash. You can put the camera in burst mode (if your camera has one) and take a couple of photos. The chances for a good picture are higher.
    I find that with a higher iso setting the photos are too grainy.

  • Matt Packer May 4, 2007 07:13 pm

    Some good points there, I should definitely take note as I've got a load of social / candid shooting to do at a music festival next weekend and normally I'm a band photographer, not so much a 'people' photographer, if you get the difference..

  • vance art May 4, 2007 05:48 pm

    Great article!

    It's hard to come up with a long lens and decent high ISO performer in a camera you can have with you at all times, but I keep looking...

  • Anthony May 4, 2007 05:47 pm

    Thank you, there are some great tips, i am definitely going to try some next time i am out and about.

  • SallyT May 4, 2007 05:37 pm

    I much prefer not to use full wide angle for shots of people of animals as I don't generally like the distortion. It's different if I deliberately want a distorted image but mostly I don't. I like your tips, they give sound simple advice. More please :-)

  • Paul May 4, 2007 05:07 pm

    Another superb article from DPS - keep up the good work.
    - www.photographyvoter.com

  • Nate May 4, 2007 04:44 pm

    Great tips - I think Ikve already integrated all these things into my shooting already, thought #6 was a good reminder to be conscious of it. And yeah, flash is probably the most annoying thing. I ended up getting a 1.8/50 for my Nikon D70 so I could get better no flash shots. I would love a 1.4 or a 1.2...maybe someday.

  • Easterangel May 4, 2007 04:34 pm

    Great tips here and I will save them. Now if if only I have a speedier camera. :)

    I am making this as my "Post of the Day" for my "Post Awards" blog.


  • Chris May 4, 2007 02:52 pm

    If you have a digital camera, turn off the shutter sound. People are less conscious of the camera if they can't tell when exactly you're taking the pictures.

  • Lee May 4, 2007 02:31 pm

    Any suggestions on what Point and Shoot to carry?

  • Bob Smith May 4, 2007 01:29 pm

    Nice list, I'd like to see pictures from each point.

    I do disagree with shooting while an official photographer is trying to take posed shots. It distracts the subjects which impacts the paid photog... and I've rarely seen posed style pictures where the subject is not looking at the camera to be very good.

  • Marconi May 4, 2007 01:15 pm

    What I like to do is to first take a posed shot. For that, the subject tenses up quite a bit. Then, just after the shutter clacks, they relax, and genuinely smile -- and before they know it, I'm already back on the shutter for one or two exposures of the the more candid expressions and body language.

  • Berto May 4, 2007 01:06 pm

    Great writing. My buddy Minh, who has a lot of his photography at http://www.minhternet.com (link here) basically told me to use every one of those techniques, except for 7 and 11. You guys are just amazing.

  • Chris Coyier May 4, 2007 12:51 pm

    I especially like tip #11. I'm going to try that.

  • Canary May 4, 2007 12:09 pm

    This list is excellent. You've made some very good points and many of these are essential to getting good shots. Especially the no flash one. Thank you for that! I'm sick of pasty white photos of people blinded by the flash while everything around them is black. It's so unflattering.

    One thing I find interesting or appealing is to take pictures of other photographers just as they're taking a shot of something, especially when I can include backround of either the subject being photographed or just behind the photographer. But that's just me.

  • Steve May 4, 2007 12:09 pm

    On #11, Most wedding professionals will get pretty ticked (and rightly so) if you start snapping away at their set up poses. They're working hard getting things set up right, and risk losing some print sales if a skilled amateur makes a "stolen" shot available to the couple.

    I've gotten dirty looks, and been asked to stop by pros when they thought I was going to do this.

  • Darren May 4, 2007 08:16 am

    Agreed - for street photography a wide angle lens is great - however this post isn't necessarily about street photography or shooting strangers - but I was thinking more of shooting parties, weddings etc and trying to get those shots of people where they seem totally oblivious to being photographed.

    While I love the wide angle shot (it gives such a unique perspective) if you want to get a tightly framed shot of a person with a wide angle lens you do need to be reasonably close to them - and as a result they'll definitely be aware of you taking the shot.

    Don't hear me as knocking wide angles - I use the wider end of my zooms mostly - however I just think that a longer zoom can put some distance between you and your subject and this can put them at ease and give you a little distance to hide behind.

  • Adam May 4, 2007 06:04 am

    Great Article...keep um coming!

  • Kevin Helton May 4, 2007 05:08 am

    I disagree. Telephoto can produce great candids by those who aren't scared, but smart. The only reason to be scared in photography is if you are taking picture of something you shouldn't be photographing.

    Candid: A photograph that is not posed. Generally taken without the subject's awareness.

    With a wide angle you get the first part but usually ditch the second part.

    With telephoto you get the best of both worlds. But I did enjoy the wide angle candids!

  • Puplet May 4, 2007 03:46 am

    Agree with Donncha's comment - telephoto is for weedy scaredy cats when it comes to candid photography

  • Donncha O Caoimh May 4, 2007 03:34 am

    Good points all, and to complement 2 and add to point 8, I'd suggest getting an ultra-wide lens to make street shots. My street photography is almost all shot with a Sigma 10-20 lens. It captures a whole lot more and I love the warped perspective at the edges of the frame.
    Quite often that adds an extra dimension to an otherwise drab street scene!