How to Do Candid Photography: Tips for Capturing the Special Moments

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  By Taya Ivanova
How to Do Candid Photography: Tips for Capturing the Special Moments

Formal photographs make stunning portraits, but do not always capture emotion in the same way that a natural, unposed shot can. Candid photography often results in more intimate photographs and reveals sincere emotion. When a shot is posed, subjects may feel self-conscious—this can sometimes show through in the final product.

Luckily, candid photography is all about capturing authentic moments—and it’s surprisingly easy. Oftentimes, the beginning of a photo session is awkward. Unless you’re working with professional models, many people are unsure of what to do with their bodies and wind up looking tense and uncomfortable. The goals here are to make yourself less conspicuous, and 2 make your subject(s) comfortable.

How to Take a Candid Photo by Subject



The art of capturing a candid moment of a single person can be extremely difficult or totally effortless, depending on the circumstances. Capturing the true emotional of an individual at an event is pretty straightforward because that person is likely not paying much attention to the photographer; if your subject is uncomfortably aware of your presence, though, it is relatively easy to catch him or her off guard during a distracting moment.


Now, exclusively photographing one person (especially someone with no modeling experience) can be a much more daunting task. Patience is essential, as is a sense of humor. It is important to make your subject feel comfortable, and this will usually take some easing into. Be reassuring and encouraging, and snap twice as much as you normally would. In between those tense, uncomfortable moments, you’re bound to catch a few natural facial expressions.



If you are working with two or more individuals, the process is a bit simpler. It’s much easier to dissuade any discomfort when your subjects can interact with each other. When I take a couple out on an engagement shoot, I like to find activities for them to do–nothing extravagant, just simple things to direct their attention away from themselves. Props really come in handy in these situations and I often suggest that the couple brings something along.


Even if you don’t have props, it’s not too difficult to capture those genuine moments. When it comes to candid wedding photography, try positioning the couple away from you, and then ask them to casually walk toward the camera and talk to each other. This trick gives them something to do and puts you further away–making them less aware of your presence and giving you a great candid shot.


20150718-180853_miniChildren are especially great subjects for a candid portrait because the younger the are, the less likely they are to have developed the sort of self-consciousness that hinders adults.


Also, a lot of kids are naturally curious about the camera and don’t mind being in front of it. My only advice for capturing a candid picture of children is this: Don’t forget about them! They can be some of your most honest and most interesting subjects.



As a wedding photographer, I have taken more than a few group photos. Most of my clients ask for standard, posed pictures with their friends and family. While the posed photo is important, the group photos with the most life in them are the ones that are unexpected. Getting these shots is easy. Simply shoot the formals, then keep on clicking while everyone is getting readjusted or regrouping. Keep shooting even as everyone is walking away–by then, they have had time to relax and you will be able to photograph them even more naturally.


If you are working a wedding or any other big celebration, there is a pretty good chance that dancing will be involved at some point. This is a perfect time to get some great candid photos of lots of totally uninhibited, blissfully unaware party-goers. You’re guaranteed to capture the true emotion of the party guests.

While these photography tips vary slightly depending on the subject matter, the most important thing to remember is to keep shooting, even if you don’t think you need to. Those brief, special moments in between a thoughtfully composed posed shot often result in some of the most poignant and sentimental photographs.

How to Make Clients Feel Less Awkward While Capturing Candid Shots

Though posed portrait photography is great, it’s not as heartwarming as a photo of best friends having an unexpected laughing session.

A lot of families, couples, and friends want to be photographed in the most genuine way possible. To really capture the beauty of candid portrait photography, you have to make yourself invisible and be quick on your feet. Most importantly, you have to make your subjects feel comfortable enough to be themselves in front of your camera.

Here are a few ways you can make the most of your candid photography photoshoot without making anyone (including yourself) feel out of place.

Talk to the Clients

Whether you’re going to photograph a child, a couple, or a professional model, always prioritize communication. Without it, your clients will feel like strangers and your photos will look stiff.

These simple but effective approaches will create mutual trust and understanding:

  • Explain why you love your work – truly passionate people give an air of confidence. Be open about your intentions; your clients will feel much more comfortable around you when they’re aware of your creative goals.
  • Get to know your client’s story – when people open up, they feel like close friends. You can get to this stage by asking your client about their interests, biggest passions, and ambitions. If you show them that you care, they’ll relax in your presence.
  • Ask for their honest feedback – it’s likely that your clients know very little about photography themselves, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking them for constructive criticism and ideas. If you give them a chance to control the photo shoot even a little, they’ll feel heard and appreciated.

Don’t Get Too Close

If you want to take a truly candid photograph, you should be invisible to your subjects. This means keeping a distance and letting them freely interact with one another. Getting too close to them might make them feel awkward, so try to avoid that unless they specifically ask for spontaneous closeups.

A zoom lens or telephoto lens is ideal for a professional photographer who wants to give their clients space without compromising their own creativity. Your subjects won’t be aware of how close your lens really is, and you won’t feel like you’re interrupting special moments.

Make Sure They Know What You’re Shooting

Before your photo shoot, let your clients know that the first few photos won’t look that great. Let them know that it’s okay to feel awkward and self-conscious at first. This information might give many of your clients the confidence to be themselves during your session.

Once the awkward stage passes, show your clients your results. Candid photography isn’t about posing, so make sure you don’t throw too many compliments around as you shoot. However, make it clear that you’re okay with showing them your photos once in a while. This will give them a better idea of your style and give them a chance to provide you with helpful feedback.

mother child candid

Let Your Confidence Shine

Confidence is contagious. When you talk to your clients, don’t be afraid of sharing your passion with them. Let them know how excited you are about your photo shoot. This might seem like a silly thing to do, but it will make them feel more relaxed. Passionate photographers have an unbeatable energy that attracts all kinds of people. The more you value your skills, the more noticeable they’ll be to others, and the more comfortable they’ll feel around you.

father daughter candid


Candid Photography Captures Special Moments in an Authentic Way

Everyone is different. It’s not possible to get along with every single individual out there. However, in the world of photography, it’s possible to provide every client with the most beautiful photos they could ask for. You don’t need to have a specific type of personality to achieve this. All you have to do is wisely use your social skills, make your clients feel at home, and take photos that they’ll cherish forever.

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I'm an admirer of nature, a photographer, and a curious reader. Writing about photography and helping others improve is a growing passion of mine. My constant wish is to inspire others to be creatively fearless and endlessly curious. "Always dream bigger is my advice to you, because you can have whatever your heart desires" - Ashley Graham

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