Tips for Candid Photography

Capture Real Life Moments and Memories

Wedding photographer taking a picture

Lifewire / Derek Abella

Candid photography is photography that focuses on spontaneity rather than technique. Your subject's focus is not on the camera, but on their current task. We're not talking about the photo albums full of people looking at the camera and smiling here! Your subjects are not posed and the shots are unplanned.

Candid photos are usually simple photos taken with any kind of camera (including the one on your mobile phone) without a lot of technical equipment or any time taken setting up the shot.

Keep Subjects at Ease

If you're going to try to shoot candid photos, you're going to want your subjects to be at ease with the camera. Some people naturally will be apprehensive around a camera or may act out of the ordinary, both of which are undesirable for candid photography. Carry the camera around and shoot photos for around 20 minutes before attempting candid photos, just to allow the subjects to relax and act naturally around the camera.

Take Your Camera Everywhere You Go!

Keep alert for candid situations - they can be found everywhere.

Examples of Candid Shots

A daydreaming store owner; an elderly man sitting beside you; commuters waiting for a train; two lovers on a park bench about to kiss; a child's delight when feeding ducks; elation of a football supporter when a touchdown is scored; a city tramp surrounded by clutter; a woman lost in thought staring at the ocean on beach.

It's Rare to Get a Second Chance With Candid Photography

When you see an opportunity, grab it!

Don't Use Complicated Lighting Techniques

Concentrate on the simple and use your camera's automatic features. Technical problems don't matter so much if you have a great candid photo. Most technical problems (like if the image is too dark or too light) can be fixed on your computer.

Set Your Camera to "Iso 400"

This will help you grab the shot even if you are moving.

Blend Into the Background

Do what everyone else is doing so you fit in with the situation. Then when you see a good candid moment, bring your camera up to your eye.

Don't Always Take the Shot at Eye Level

Support your camera on your waist when taking the photo. Some luck or experience is needed here to get the framing right.

Use Your Zoom Lens to It's Fullest Extent

To keep your subjects from posing, etc, keep away from the action while taking your shot. A telephoto lens is essential if you're going to be a fair distance away.

Never Take Photos of People's Backs

Nothing is more boring than a group of people with all backs turned to the camera. It just doesn't work.

Try Converting the Image to Black and White

This can convey extra punch and emotion.

People 'Doing Things' Make the Best Candid Photos

Sports players, tradespeople, farmers, and accountants are all excellent examples of subjects with things to do.

Try to Capture the Essence of the Person's Task

For example, you might capture a plumber concentrating on fixing a leaky pipe.

If You're in a Public Place, It's Usually Okay to Photograph People

If they object, however, you need to stop. If you're not sure, it never hurts to ask permission beforehand. Your subject may want to pose, so explain what you saw them doing and ask them to continue as if you weren't there.


Sometimes the artistic expression of a candid photo can be limited by you, the photographer. Try different angles, places, and scenes. Look at candid photos created by others (they can be found in lots of magazines) for inspiration.

Candid photography is a great way to add some artistic flair to your photos without spending a lot of time with the technical aspects of photography.