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 photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.

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