So the last article was all about how to use a flash…well now we are going to throw all of that out the window! For candid photography, you want to almost be sneaky. Not because you are doing something wrong… no, no, but because you are trying to catch people without them knowing you’re taking their picture.

What is candid photography? It’s all about capturing authentic moments. Unposed and sometimes raw moments. People completely change their demeanor when they know that someone is taking their picture. Everyone has different responses (some may put up 2 fingers and smile from ear to ear, others hide their face in their hands or turn away), but you simply can’t get a candid shot when people know you are taking their picture. You can’t see the pure, genuine feelings that are displayed when they know their picture is being taken either. And nothing shouts that you are taking a picture like…a flash!

There are so many techniques for candid photography, but I will try to keep it simple for you. Here are 5 things to keep in mind for beginner candid photography:

1. Use a phone or a point and shoot camera. While this tip is not absolutely necessary, these types of cameras are less obtrusive than your DSLRs and you can quickly maneuver them when you need them. Imagine yourself looking at your phone at the dentist office and you see a little kid doing something funny or interesting. How easy would it be to just turn your phone to camera mode, tilt your phone a bit, and snap a quick shot. Nobody need know the wiser!

camera phone 

2. Use a telephoto lens. If you want to use your DSLR, try pulling out that long bulky lens! The photo below was taken through a crowd of people at a farmer’s market. I was at least 30 yards away from this subject and there were people constantly walking past him as I took the photo. He couldn’t have possibly known I was taking this picture. Look at how genuine his smile is! You couldn’t capture that with a staged photo.

telephoto lens 

3. Go to the crowd. When there are a lot of people around, you can “hide in the crowd”. How does the average Joe know that you are not taking pictures of the person behind him? Think sporting events, fairs, lunchroom, mall, etc.


Image source

4. Look for people who are “busy”. Look for someone who is so completely absorbed in what they are doing that they couldn’t possibly notice someone quietly taking their picture. Examples? Someone roaring at a basketball game. A child working on a coloring page. Girls talking in a group (nobody can interrupt that!). 

busy people 

5. Take LOTS of pictures. If the camera you are using has a burst mode, turn it on! I preach incessantly to take lots of pictures and candid photography is no different, but in this case, most of the pictures you take of the subject may look pretty similar (no different angles or lighting). When you find an opportunity for a candid photo, lift that camera and push that shutter! (If your camera is in burst mode, it will take pictures continuously.) With candid photography, you’re trying to capture that perfect expression more than anything else.

​​​​​​burst mode 

6. Wait PATIENTLY. Sometimes, if you wait, you can get the PERFECT shot! Get yourself in a good position to observe people, and when the moment arrives, you’re ready! For example, sit on a bench in the park or at an event and observe people. As each person or group of people walk by, you have an opportunity to capture the perfect moment! Or sit in a corner table at the lunchroom and scan the crowd, a moment is bound to present itself you!


REMEMBER! This is just an introduction to candid photography. If you really get into this, there are other ways to go about it. But this will get you started and hopefully spark something creative in you!

If you’d like a project outline for candid photography, click the button below!

Leave a Reply