Candids is our latest assignment. Taking candids has actually been an ongoing task for me since I obtained my new camera.
There are five components for making this type of image: A) Equipment know-how; B) Interesting subject; C) The Guts to take the shot; D) Good timing; or rather anticipating the moment and knowing when to shoot; E) Sufficient lighting.
For me, candid images should capture subjects without affectation. The subject should appear in the midst of natural behavior or activity without pretense or posing. At least at the time the shutter clicks, the subject should be unaware of being photographed, or have enough comfort so s|he can ignore the presence of the camera. Elements in a good candid that trigger my attention are gesture, expression, good composition and above all else: human honesty. Sometimes a moment is wonderfully strange or serendipitous, and sometimes the subject is delightfully eccentric or unusual. Often, it is in mundane moments that I am struck by human expression because it is so genuine.
One can’t always help being “caught” in the act of clicking. Hopefully, the moment is captured first, and the photographer is noticed afterwards.
Some of the ways it can be done:
Shooting from the hip, literally. This takes a good deal of practice, camera/lens familiarity, and confidence. This method is helped out by being in busy settings with enough bustle and activity that the camera holder blends in and is easily ignored.
Shooting from a blind, like in hunting or bird watching, where the photographer is in a hidden spot or is well camouflaged. Also helpful with this method is a long lens, so you can be distant and zoom in tight.
Shooting with the shutter in the “silent” mode is helpful, particularly in close quarters or when observing live performances.
Not using the flash is a key to staying unobtrusive. It requires use of natural or available ambient light, along with pushing ISO levels up to a range that is without too much noise but allows fast enough shutter speeds so action may be frozen. I do not often observe strangers in still repose, unless they are texting or on the phone.
The one nugget that was really driven home, as I attempted to snap my children watching moving trailers in a theatre, is that candid group shots present a challenge in low light. You are best to concentrate on one subject, and allow other figures to blur or move.