Candid style portraits are a unique way to take a picture of a subject. Candid is simply capturing the subject when they are not expecting it. I have several methods I use when I do photo shoots to try and achieve this goal. All of the pictures I will be using in this will be of the style am talking about. When you are taking pictures of someone you are always trying to get them to look a certain way, and once you achieve it you capture the moment forever for them right? Well candid is kind of like that, except you HAVE to feel comfortable and more importantly so does your client. This a little more advanced way of getting a very unique yet rewarding shot that they may not be expecting. Once you get used to it though, this is a very powerful tool to have in your box of tricks. The reason that I love candid style so much and try to do it as much as possible is because there is a RAW (no pun intended) emotion there that is very hard to replicate on purpose. Try this; ask someone next to you to smile for you real quick, maybe explain to them why so it is not as creepy, and look at their face. Now have a normal conversation with them and make them really laugh. you will see a big difference. The normal smile may be great, but that unadulterated smile that people let out when they aren't holding back...that...that is amazing.
The above shot was set up by me standing to the side while the wife and grandmother of the child were getting ready and I saw the grandfather walk on the far side of the father. As the father looked down at his beautiful daughter, his father too looked down for some reason. I was lucky to grab the shot before anything changed. This is another example of why candid is so fun and so powerful. Can you replicate this easily? Sure, but remember that I said that the story is just as important as the actual picture. So when they tell the family this was a complete accident, it makes this special moment even more intense! Don't forget that you have to be quick when taking candid shots for the most part, and that you CAN pose a candid shot, but it is very hard to REALLY get that hidden emotion. Having a longer lens also helps with this as well. The presence of you and the camera will sometimes make people act differently and I will explain later. I use my 70-200 telephoto lens when I want to catch a shot like this from a distance. I can stand a pretty far distance away and snap the shot and crop some if needed. Now, the set up is just as important as the execution for a candid shot. You may be asking yourself what kind of set up you need to do for a candid shot, but the set up can take places weeks before the shot is even taken.
The set up. Very important. You have to b as comfortable with your client as you can be ahead of time. After the initial meet up, contract signing and so on, I invite them to lunch or dinner. I have normal small talk with them and then I dive into a little deeper conversations. They think that I am doing this just to talk to them, and they are partially correct, but the real reason is because I am probing into what makes them laugh. I am testing things that will receive different emotions. In my last job I learned how to read people pretty well, and I use that to my advantage in these situations. I memorize the different emotional triggers and then exploit them during the shoot to try and replicate the same facial expressions as before. I will always believe that you have to be a people person to be a portrait photographer. You can't make them feel uncomfortable, you have to be able to adapt and change to the clients that you have to bring the best out of them. You have to bring the best out of someone so you can capture it in a picture and give it back to them forever. Like I said this will take practice, but once you get it, it is awesome fun! I hope this was helpful to you, until next time my fellow photogs, take care, and always have your shutter finger ready!