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Candid Photography

Get out on the street and shoot some candids with these tips.

| Portraits and People
A candid photo is of a person, or even a group of people that aren't posed. This could be a groom and bride having a conversation at a wedding, a friend playing with their child or a park warden picking up some rubbish.

To take candids you need to trust your instincts, have an eye for detail and for closer up work you also need to be brave.

Candid Photography: Candids taken in Morocco
 Photos by David Clapp -

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If you're confident and don't mind the odd confrontation take your 50mm lens out into your town or city and shoot some close up candids in the crowds. This isn't the friendliest of approaches but it is a popular way for street photographers to work. Just watch out for people asking you questions and the odd expletive thrown your way. If you don't want to get quite so close try using a wide angle lens as you don't actually have to point your lens at your subject to get them in frame or shoot from a distance with a long telephoto lens such as a 80-200mm.

As you'll be on the move leave the tripod at home and carry your camera on your shoulder so you'll be ready to capture your candid. Don't take your flash out with you either as not only does it give you away you'll also soon rub people up the wrong way if you keep firing a bright flash in their face.

When it comes to camera bags, a small bag such as those available in Vanguard's Vojo range, will make it easier to move around, plus these particular bags don't scream: 'I'm full of camera kit' making them a good choice for busy locations where it's easy to forget to keep an eye on the kit you're carrying on your shoulder. 


For good candids you need to walk around your town's streets, camera at your side, looking for a person whose behaviour, appearance or the environment they're in makes you want to photograph them. You need to trust your instinct, shoot lots and often. In fact setting your camera on continuous shooting mode will help you get a string of shots and in doing so you may capture a spontaneous look or smile you wouldn't have without it. If you want them to look at the camera ask them a question or make a noise as they'll soon look your way but don't push your look. If you take someone's photo and they ask you to stop, stop and move on to a new subject.

If you're on a busy High Street try lifting your camera above the crowd or get up really close for a dramatic shot. By doing so you may be able to capture the reaction of the people around you too. If you want to get close but don't want to aim a lens at someone quite so obviously try shooting from the hip. The success of this technique can be down to luck but if your DSLR has a screen that tilts you'll be able to see what you're photographing and it will still just look like you're fiddling with your camera and not taking a photograph. For longer shots with the telephoto lens you need to blend into the background so people don't change their behaviour. Don't take your photo straight away as timing is key. Wait until you're sure they're no longer bothered by your presence and are focused on whatever they're doing before you take your shot. This might mean feeding the birds in the park or reading a paper on the park bench for a while but the wait is worth it.

If your shot comes out slightly blurred or at a weird angle don't get too hung up on it as this adds to the random, off-the-cuff feel candids have. In fact, if your subject hangs around for long enough you should try experimenting with angles but make sure you've got the simple portrait shot in the bag first.

When it comes to a candid moment there are really hundreds to pick from. Daydreamers, customer handed change at a market stall, workman stopping for a tea break and couples arguing or laughing are all candid moments. If you're at a wedding move around the venue shooting candids of the guests or while on holiday look for locals to photograph just remember that laws do differ and there may be more restrictions on photography than there are in the UK.

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