Some of the best photos are candid. People are more relaxed and photos have more context. Despite what you might think, candid photos do take some planning. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Take Your Camera Everywhere
First and foremost, if you want to capture spontaneous shots, you have to always be ready with your camera. It may feel weird bringing your camera with you everywhere, and your friends may be a little uneasy. But after a few times your friends will think nothing of it when you bring your camera out, and that’s when you can get the best shots.
2. Lose the Flash
The biggest giveaway that you’re taking photos is your flash. If you want to remain unnoticed, turn off your flash, decrease your f-stop, and increase your ISO. This should also create a shallow depth of field, giving more focus to the subject.
3. Use a Zoom Lens
Shooting with a telephoto or zoom lens helps you to keep a good distance from your subjects, making it so that they don’t even realize you’re there. You’ll capture shots as if you are right next to them. Telephoto lenses can create an intimate scene; they focus on the subjects and not the scenery.
4. Shoot from the Hip
Another great way to go unnoticed is to shoot from the hip. It gives you a different perspective and a real candid feel to the shot. The great thing about using a digital camera is it doesn’t matter if you don’t get the shot the first time; you can take as many as you want. You may want to use a wider angle lens while doing this, making it easier to aim.
5. Catch People in the Moment
Catching people in the moment tends to be more interesting than capturing someone doing absolutely nothing. It adds context and an element of the story and feeling to the image. It can take time to capture a shot when the person is distracted and completely focused on what they are doing or who they are with. Whether it’s someone intently reading a book or a parent and child, there’s a story behind each photo.
6. Keep Moving / Change perspective
When you’re taking candid photos the last thing you want to do is ask your subjects to move so you can get a better angle. That would defeat the whole purpose of getting a candid shot. Instead, you’re the one who has to move to get the angle you want. Do whatever you need to do – crouch down, get up high, take shots on an angle, zoom in, or take a wide.
7. Frame Image with Foreground Elements
Framing your shot with foreground elements not only outlines the shot nicely and adds context, but also furthers the relaxed and candid feel of the photo. You create the illusion of hiding from the subjects and catching a glimpse of a scene. You can try using the frame of a doorway or looking over a person’s shoulder or foliage (if outdoors) to create this look.
8. Use Continuous Shooting Mode
A scene or facial expressions can change in the blink of an eye. By using continuous shooting mode or shooting in bursts, you increase your chance of getting that perfect shot, as well as some amusing shots along the way.