Photographing candid moments can be challenging – you may end up with a wonderful shot of someone laughing or you may end up with one of those pictures that looks like you just paused a movie in the wrong spot! We decided to ask our photographers for advice on how to photograph candid moments so we can help you capture everyone’s good side. Find out what each of them had to say!
Here are some quick introductions to our amazing photographers, so you know who is sharing their wonderful advice!
Born in and raised in Miami, Danny moved to Manhattan to study film at New York University. While there, he met his wife (and From the Hip Photo co-founder!) Nina, helped run a national clothing company, and launched an online music retailer. His passions include the films of the nouvelle vague, exploring new cities by foot, and hunting down the spiciest Thai food in Denver.
Nina was born in Moscow, Russia and moved to the United States at the age of ten. She earned her BFA from the prestigious Pratt Institute and then followed that with a Master of Fine Arts degree from the New York Academy of Art. Her love for foxes inspired the From the Hip Photo logo!
Ashleigh has a dog named Francesca, loves micro brews, cupcakes, ice cream, and snowboarding. She has an Associates in Commercial Photography from the Art Institute of Colorado and has been working as a professional photographer for over nine years.
Q: Which is your favorite candid photo you’ve ever taken?
Danny: This is like trying to pick a favorite child: I definitely have one, but it’s polite to pretend otherwise. Kidding! I don’t have a favorite, per se, but one that jumps to mind was one that was captured of a bride, Gina, coming down the aisle at Della Terra Mountain Chateau at the start of her ceremony. As Gina was walking down the long, winding pathway with a parent on either arm, I saw a deer approaching. I anticipated what would happen next, and captured a photo of the deer bounding across the aisle with Gina and parents looking giddy with surprise in the background. It was a moment no one could have planned and that’s part of what made it so magical!
Nina: I can’t think of just one, but typically my favorites are ones where there is total goofball face involved. I was shooting a family session recently, and all of a sudden the little girl pulled mom’s hair really hard, and mom got the funniest bug eyes and I love how that captures that moment. It’s fun, it’s spontaneous, and I can promise you every time that family sees that photo they will laugh.
Ashleigh: My favorite candid photo I’ve ever taken is one of my niece, Alexandria, and my dad when she was about six months old. They were looking at the prisms he keeps in his windows and it is just a nice moment of the two of them together.
Q: How do you get people to relax to photograph candid moments?
Danny: I try to listen to couples, both literally and also in terms of paying attention to non-verbal cues. Each couple is different–really, each partner in a couple is different–and so I tailor what I do with each couple.
Nina: I think just by relating to them. Posing for photos is an awkward thing. Joking around with them and giving them lots of directions helps them to feel less like they don’t know how to pose or what to do with their hands. I like to ask questions, too, which can be tricky because talking doesn’t come out great in photos. But with the right question, the person or couple will think about it first or laugh at each other’s answers, and that really helps the mood.
Ashleigh: Honestly I make jokes or make fun of myself. Or sometimes, I make fart sounds — for the kids, seriously!
Q: Do you feel like candid photography can work in more formal photography sessions?
Danny: Absolutely. Even when we are capturing “posed” setups, our goal is to create a relaxed atmosphere and get people to laugh and smile genuinely.
Nina: Candid photos are better in almost all sessions! So the only caveat here is you have to know how to pose candidly, too. You can’t just say, “Okay, now go be cute together” and leave it at that. Most people will freeze, so over time you develop techniques to help.
Ashleigh: Absolutely! I like doing the formal stuff, but I ask families and groups to look at one another and laugh. They usually all look at one person, realize what they did and crack up.
Q: What is one tip you’d give to young photographers about candid photography?
Danny: My biggest piece of advice is that the best candid photos are usually not captured accidentally. They result from being prepared for a moment, from looking ahead and trying to anticipate what will happen next. You need to get yourself in the right position to document those genuine moments.
Nina: Shoot a lot, shoot more than you think you need to and then double that. Yes, you’ll have a gazillion photos to go through, but then you can see what works and what doesn’t, change things up and grow.
Ashleigh: Don’t be afraid or over-think it. Learn to read your audience. Most people are looking to you for guidance and will typically go with what you say.
Q: What do you think is the most challenging part capturing candid moments?
Danny: The fact that you only get one crack at it. Lots of photographers prefer the more predictable confines of studio or landscape photography where you have more control over the lighting conditions, subject matter, and so on. To excel at candid photography you really need to relish that challenging aspect and feed off the fact that you have to capture that moment before it’s gone forever.
Nina: I’m not a natural extrovert, but you have to be as a photographer working with people. So that aspect has taken me the most amount of time to work on and I’m still learning and getting more comfortable with people.
Ashleigh: Loosening people up and getting them to trust you. You have a small window of time to build that trust so you have to learn to work fast and have fun!
Even though all of the photographers at From the Hip Photo have different opinions how to get the best pictures, all of them love to photograph candid moments! Capturing key candid moments can make an already awesome photo even more outstanding! If you want to read more about how to photograph candid moments, check out our other post, Posed or Playful? The Art Of Candid Photography, to learn about the difference between posed and candid photography.