Tag Archives: Candid photography

Family day out – three tips to help you remember

Family day out :: Try not to take formal shots on the beach

• Family day out •
The memories are preserved better if you have relaxed shots. Don’t ruin the day obsessing about your photography – make a story. Forget the world class aesthetics and concentrate on the stuff of memories.

Capture the spirit of the day out.

The “Family day out” is one of the important bonding moments for a family. When you get to your destination the family relax and spend time doing what they enjoy. Memories are made of great days out. And, your pictures of the day make for wonderful memory-moments when you look back.

Often photogs out for the day tend to line people up in stiffly-posed formal positions. The informal clothing and location put these poses at odds with the scene. And it is not all about great aesthetics either. The family day out is more about people enjoying themselves than it is about achieving a world class image.

Here are three tips to help you get the most out of your family day out memory-shots.

Family day out – the candid moment

It’ll be fun, especially if you have the children there. So the most important thing is to get them doing what they enjoy. There is a problem though. You’ll never get a memorable family day out image if you spend the day fretting about getting it all just right.

Sometimes as photographers we get rather precious about poses, backgrounds, set up, simplifying scenes… It all has to be right. But does it really? Capturing a family scene is about your memory. Great aesthetics are one thing. Seeing your loved ones in a memory popping moment is another. So, relax your high principles – for the sake of a family memory moment.

Family day out :: candid moment

• A quiet moment at lunch •
Catch your loved ones in a candid moment. Tell a compelling story of your family day out.


There are lots of different aspects to photography. Instead of being an over-bearing photographer consider a different way. Just do something for you. You could make a great family day out miserable by regimenting them just so you can record it.

Alternatively, you could make the whole experience a vital and unique series of captures. Spend your time documenting what your family are doing. Catch them really enjoying themselves. Leave them be, spend your time getting the candid moments when they are most absorbed. That way you will see the deeper aspects of their character as well as making your shots tell a compelling story.

Capturing people doing what they enjoy

Doing what you enjoy on a day out is very character revealing. If you capture your subject in a moment that reveals their inner self then the shot is more memorable for you. It’s still in the spirit of the candid moment. Don’t interrupt them – capture them in action. It helps tell the story of the day. It also will help you remember the context of the shot and what you were doing at the time.

Family day out :: Capture your loved ones doing what they enjoy.

• Making pictures •
Capture your loved ones doing what they enjoy. It helps make the story of your family day out more compelling.

Family day out – vista shots – story continuity

As the family photog you can be happily engaged in your interest while the rest of the family pursue theirs. So don’t forget to have a good look around. There are plenty of things you can be photographing as well as your family. This is your chance to make your photographic skills come out. You can obsess all you like over the detail of things you photograph while you leave the rest of the family to have their fun.

Take in the vista too. Make sure you look at the surrounding area. Capture the things that interest you and others in your family. Think about how to put your “family day out” story in context. So make sure you take some shots of the scene and the surrounding areas or activities taking place. If you take the time to do this through the day you can build a story line with your pictures. It will make a great album for you all to remember your family day out for years to come.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

What you can learn from candid photography

Groom • Candid photography :: getting the shot is a pressure.

• Groom •
Candid photography – getting the shot is a pressure. Weddings are times when you need to work particularly fast and accurately. •

Responding is a skill.

When starting on the path to disciplined photography we’re told to slow down. Take careful, measured and pre-visualised shots. We are told to stop trying to frantically pepper the scene with shots. Take time. Take stock. Think everything through. The aim is to get the shot under control.

A good photographer often needs to respond rapidly. The careful, measured approach still applies. They still have to get the picture. However, the pace of a situation demands swift shots. The practised photog can respond with speed and accuracy. Practice at candid photography is a great way to realise those skills for yourself.

Candid photography and practice

The aim is to make a clean, sharp, well composed image. The nature of a candid shot makes that difficult. While trying to make a success of your candid photography some conditions may apply. Some of those may contradict each other…

  • The subject may not know you are going to take a picture.
  • The subject could know you are going to take a picture.
  • The subject may be unpredictable.
  • You will need to be very quick.
  • You will need to be able to get a sharp image despite speedy working.
  • You may have to take several shots (eg. not dozens).
  • Your subject should be in an interesting position.
  • The subject needs to to be in an interesting context in the scene.
  • You should anticipate the shot (rather than getting lucky).
  • You will have your camera ready and settings correct for the shot.
  • You will have only a microsecond to compose the shot.

You just do not know what you are going to encounter until you have to deal with it.

Dealing with all that may seem a tall order. Especially if you are told not to machine-gun the scene with shots. Haste and frantic bursts rarely lead to good luck. Actually, it is not about doing all that at super speed. Like everything you do in photography, candid photography requires preparation, practice and control.

Equipment – knowing what you can do

NO! Do not go out and buy yourself a micro-weight, super-camera. Up-to-date bells and whistles are not the point. Instead, look for simplicity. Sometimes the best camera is an old and familiar one. What we want for this exercise is knowledge.

The best possible way to get fast with a camera is to know what it can do. The lens too. If you are familiar and well versed in using your equipment you will automatically respond to the scene. Here is an example.

In candid photography control of depth of field is essential

• Impish grin •
Keep the subject in focus but the background is frosted out.
In candid photography control of depth of field is essential
(Click to view large)

This shot was captured as this lovely man turned from a conversation. He was talking to someone on his right. I was ready for his turn toward me. His impish grin as he saw me really made the shot.

I wanted a depth of field that had his head and face sharp. I also wanted the background indistinct. Notice the sharpness is lost just on the far shoulder. My lens was set up to have a depth of field of about 400mm (about 15in to 16in). But there was no measurement involved. This was an estimate. It involved knowing the depth of field at my distance from the man, and using the right aperture. This capture is the result of knowing the lens and camera combo really well. It was a practised shot using very familiar equipment. The successful candid photography came out of the practice and familiarity.

Equally, it is easy to get the shot wrong. Depth of field, especially at close range, is fickle. It is easy to get the tip of the nose out of focus, the eyes and face in focus, and the hair out of focus. It is important to look at the variables involved. The aperture size and distance-from-subject control the depth of field. So, try the exercise below using manual settings.

Take a bright coloured builders tape measure. Place a small object beside a mid-point on the measure. Take a photo of the object down the measures’ length. Use a wide aperture. Check out the depth of field by looking at the measurements that are sharp. Now by varying your distance from the object see how much you change the depth of field. Do this for a wide range of apertures. With experience you will get a feel for controlling the depth of field. With twenty or thirty variations you should get a feel for the depth of field.

Settings

Aperture is one setting. ISO and shutter speed are important too. Getting a feel for your equipment means getting familiar with how these settings work.

Candid photography often involves working in darker lighting. Parties and indoor sessions, weddings in churches and in evening light all require wide apertures. You might use flash. But in a lot of situations that may not be practical or desirable. So using a high ISO setting (more sensitive sensor) will allow you to work effectively in lower light. So, lower the light where you are working with the tape measure. Raise the ISO and repeat the exercises. Get a feel for how you can vary the exposure by changing the ISO.

Needless to say you can vary the shutter speed in similar ways. Try the exercise again. This time keep the aperture and ISO fixed and change the shutter speed up and down through a range of shots. [More on varying shutter speed].

Learning to use your settings manually takes more than one session. That is important. You can gain a lot by training yourself to be sensitive to the settings. Working toward good quality candid photography can really help you gain that sensitivity. Poor photographs of faces and people are immediately obvious! You get great feedback from the experience of poor shots.

Composition – seizing the moment

Candid photography is about seizing the moment. You need to use good settings. You also need some understanding of composition. This means working to get your subject in the right environment. They will have an appropriate pose and possibly the right context or behaviour too. Without all these coming together the moment is lost. Setting it all up takes some thought.

Normally people do candid photography with some idea of what they want to achieve. Random wanderings are normally unproductive. Luck follows more often from preparation and forethought than stumbling upon a notable event.

So, have a good think about your scene composition….

  • Set yourself up in a viable position ahead of the shot.
  • Think about how the light is placed in the scene overall.
  • Place yourself for the right background on the far side of the shot.
  • Fix the camera settings for the composition ahead of the shot.

In other words be prepared. Then, when the right moment comes along, you will have the minimum to do. A little composition, framing the shot, is essential. A tweak of the focus possibly… But essentially – you should be ready.

Now you stand the best possible chance of getting the shot.

Candid photography is successful when it all comes together

All this preparation and practice is about getting you to the moment when you take the shot. Making a success of your candid photography is about three things…

  • Knowing your settings.
  • Practice with and knowing your equipment.
  • Forethought about the scene.

Having everything ready is the key. Then when all the elements of the scene come together all you do is frame it and capture. If you succeed in that, you will also make a swift shot. Because, in fact, you have little to do. Speed and accuracy is about being ready with everything and having the minimum to do when the right events pull the shot together.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Three “laws” of street photography that will help you

• Green Girls •

• Green Girls •
Click image to view large
• Green Girls • By Netkonnexion on Flickr External link - opens new tab/page

Street photography is not as chaotic as you imagine.

Most people behave in predictable ways in public. Understanding the general “laws” of street photography can really help you get the shots you want and capture the most interesting characters. Here are three ways that you can get ahead as a street photographer.

Outrageous people

When people are out and about enjoying themselves, especially in groups, they love to be photographed. The more outrageous they are presenting themselves, the more they love to be in the frame. They have made the effort to be “stand-outs” and so they are! More to the point they love to have photos taken because it shows they are the centre of attention. Groups like the green girls above just love to show off. And, don’t we love it too! So, for a bit of carnival fun, our first law is…

The photographers law of street stand-outs: The more outrageously dressed someone is, the easier it is to get a street photograph.

Hiding in plain sight

Be obvious, better still, be official looking. Nobody will question you taking photos. At lunchtimes I used to go out taking street shots. I wore a suit, had a tripod, and a Canon 5D. Sometimes I even wore a fluorescent jacket. I would put my tripod up in the middle of the pedestrian precinct and take photos of anything I wanted – nobody asked questions.

When hiding in plain sight, never look at someone directly. There are three little tricks to this:

  • When you are looking through the camera people cannot tell what you are looking at. If you use a wide angle lens you get a general view. Keep the camera pointing in the general direction of interest. You don’t even need to have the lens pointing directly at individuals. As people walk in and out of view you can snap them and they never know you are doing it.
  • Spend a long time looking through the lens – poised. People will walk in and out of the field of view and never guess you are watching them. All the while you are snapping away. Crop them into position later. With a wide angle shot you have plenty of scope to change the composition on-screen later.
  • If you are doing some spotting, not looking through the camera, make a big effort to “look past” people. Make it look like they are just in the way. People soon lose interest. Bingo – you have the shot and they are none the wiser.

So, for our every day photography in the high street our second law is:

The photographers law of sticking out like a sore thumb: If the photographer is obvious, the subject will be oblivious!

Candid or “can, but didn’t”?

The candid shot is a part of the business of being out on the street. However, not every shot has to be a candid. Interacting with people, getting in close and watching them pose, work or play is also a part of the scene. You probably think it’s difficult to stroll up to strangers and ask to invade their privacy with a camera. Its not as difficult as you imagine. Most people are pretty flexible. If you show an interest in them, generally they like to show cooperation. The problem is with the photographer. I have heard photographers say, “yeah, I could of spoken to them, but I couldn’t be bothered”. What they really mean is: “I would love to have chatted with them and got some shots, but I was worried about rejection”.

Here is some news. It is not as bad as you think. If you do get rejected just walk away. Try someone else. Actually, rejection does not happen very often. Most of the characters you want to photograph are quite pleased to be involved. Be polite, chatty, fun, complementary and respectful and most of the time you will get what you want. Pick your subjects for their character, presence and interest and you will probably find that they are pleased to share with you. Get in close and personal, be enthusiastic and involved. You will be a part of the behaviour, and a part of their lives. If they want copies, send them some. Then you have given them something in return for their posing. This is the third law:

The street photographers law of proactive interaction: If you don’t ask you won’t get!

If you want to be a street photog…

You have to develop and practice a number of strategies. Street photography is a fast and fun activity. Sometimes the direct action approach works best. Other times the candid approach works. However you choose to do it you will find it’s not that difficult. Actually the most difficult thing is starting… and only you can sort that out.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Portrait vs. Candid – overcome the fear

When is a portrait not a portrait?

Portraits and candids are two types of photography that showcase people. A planned photograph taken in a controlled location is known as a portrait. On the other hand, a spontaneous photograph in an uncontrolled location is known as a candid.

A portrait is…

A portrait is a good way for someone to present an idealized picture of themselves to the world. It is a composite result between the direction of the photographer and the wishes of the portrait sitter. From this co-operative effort comes a synthesis that represents how the sitter wants to be seen and how the photographer wants to bring out their character. It is in essence an artificial situation. The trick that the photographer seeks to pull off is a realistic representation of the sitter. That is where they need to be careful to pick the right moments to take the shot and the right props and background to emphasise the character of the sitter.

The candid is less controlled…

A candid is more of a snapshot of someone when they are behaving in a normal every-day situation. The element of control is limited. True the photographer can pick the time and place to stand and take a candid. They can also pick who they photograph. Exactly what they photograph is a matter or luck. They have to pick the people they see and hope that something special will be the result. The essence of candid photography is to capture the subject in a way that shows their character or a particular mannerism or their features in a realistic way. Again, the photographer has to pick the right moments to take the shots. However, they do not have the power of direction to ask for poses or expressions.

What’s the issue?

There is a very big point here, at least for some. You have to take the candid in a stranger-to-stranger situation! THAT, for most starters in street photography and photography in general is a big deal. Getting out there in the street and capturing people in their everyday lives is difficult. It makes you feel vulnerable. You are out of your element. You feel the lack of control and are sensitive to potential hostilities. Here are Five things to help you get into the candid…

  • Go out with a friend the first few times.
  • Be obvious. Snap away so people don’t fear you.
  • Snap lots of things, not just people. So you capture a few people at first.
  • Try lots of different angles and ideas. Doing the photography will take the edge off your fear.
  • Be you, enjoy yourself, meet people. Talk to some. They are ordinary folk. It’s OK.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.