There is no better way of encompassing a human personality's than photographing candidly. Posed images often seem bland and plastic because they lack a real world, spur-of-the-moment liveliness. This is because you can't truly capture human emotions by controlling them -- instead you must let them play out on their own merits. By letting emotions and reactions take their own path, you're allowing the subject to be open and sincere with the camera. This has many obvious and less obvious benefits: you let your subjects become comfortable with the camera, you add interest to the photograph, and you tell a story while depicting the person in a more appealing light. So, candid shots are about letting people act as themselves while vividly capturing the depth of feeling. Here are some important tricks and tips to getting better candid photographs.
|The subject stands out here because of the emotion peering out of the unfocused foreground elements.|
1. Take your camera everywhere. Yes everywhere...errrr...let's say nearly everywhere. Leaving your camera at home is a bad mistake. Natural actions and emotions tend to only occur once, and since you normally don't have second chances, you should take advantage of every opportunity presented to you. Always having your camera gives you those better opportunities with candid photography. Great moments can be captured anywhere or at any time, so be on the look out.
2. Analyze and approach situations strategically. Are your subjects comfortable with you? When do your actions begin to interfere? What is likely to occur (this helps you position yourself in the prime location before the picture even comes about)? This analysis will help you determine one of two distinct approaches:
|This shot is worthwhile because of its observation of compositional rules and how it captures a man's surprising toothy grin.|
-Separation- When you deem that your presence will negatively affect the picture or the subject, step back from the scene and be unobtrusive.
-Joining- Approaching a subject can result in spontaneous moments. Catch the surprising emotion of the person veering into your viewfinder. Stay with a subject long enough and even some posed shots can turn into candid ones (like the one above).
3. Shoot a lot and be patient. Human actions and reactions take time and they tend to play out on their own.
4. When considering technical aspects: kill the flash and photograph in RAW color format. Consider changing some of your images to black and white in post processing programs later. B&W is about the vivid and powerful contrasts that simplicity brings to the table. The way that black and white encompasses emotions makes it an important consideration for candid photographers. Also consider your camera's focal length: make sure to use a wide angle lens to give a sense of environment and a telephoto to isolate the person's emotions.