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Tips for Shooting Candid Shots and Posed Shots

Greetings fellow photographers! In the last email, we discussed shooting both candid shots and posed shots at a Mother’s Day outing. Let’s go into more detail about these two types of photographs. Candid shots are an excellent way to capture true emotion and depict the genuine feeling of a given moment. People tend to put on a mask when they pose; candid shots eliminate that mask. On the other hand, posed shots can be more formal artifacts of an event. They are more intentional in their composition, whereas candid shots are more freeform.

Think of classical and jazz music. Like posed shots, classical music is very thought out and structured, whereas jazz music often relies on improvisational elements and a little bit of “moment magic,” which is also found in candid photos. Both have very different approaches, but in the end, the important thing is how the music makes you feel. The same is true for candid and posed shots. They have different approaches, but both can lead to an extremely captivating photograph. Let’s discuss a few tips about both of these methods…

Whenever you want to take photos to document an event, you have a few different options. The most natural way to capture the feeling of an event is to take a photojournalistic approach – take candid shots. The idea is to photograph the event as naturally as possible; subjects should appear as if they were unaware of the camera. This has become a very popular tactic as it tends to truly capture the essence of an event. Here are some tips for shooting candid shots:

Keep those feet moving. Groups of people at any event continuously shift and rotate as they mingle. A group of 4 people all facing each other will not make a good photo as you will always have the back of someone’s head in the foreground, which may not be their most attractive feature! Your flash will find the nearest subject, expose it correctly, and cut off anything behind it. What you end up with is the back of a head perfectly exposed, leaving your intended subject dark and in the background. Therefore, move around until you find angles that will expose your intended subject. Since the people in the shot will likely be shifting positions as well, play around with different angles until you get the shot you want. Also, stay mobile; move from group to group as you are shooting. When you have gone around the entire room or event area, make another pass. Chances are that the groupings have changed.

Find the best shooting path. The perfect groupings are those that are open on one side. When a group of people has an opening in their circle, use that opening as your shooting path. Three people in a discussion or two people dancing with each other are great subjects for candid shots. Again, experiment with different angles until you get the shot you want.

Look for groups that are close together. People interacting in close proximity to each other are much better subjects than people that are separated by a lot of space. Dead space in between the subjects can be distracting, throw off your auto focus, and make a less interesting photo.

Stand back further and use your zoom feature. Sometimes a good approach for candid shots is to stand further away from your subject and zoom in. That way, they are less distracted by the camera’s presence. This is especially helpful when shooting candid shots of individual people. Just keep your flash in mind; when you are shooting from a distance, try not to let anything else get between you and the shot. Your flash will expose the wrong subject.

Candid photography can be a wonderful tool to truly capture the event as it was. On the other hand, posed shots are a great way to document who attended the event in a more formal, composed fashion. For photographing posed shots, try some of these approaches:

Take a test photo first. By posing a group of people, you have the luxury of taking test photos, and correcting anything standing in the way of the desired shot. Take a shot and tell everyone to hold on for a second. Examine the test shot and make quick corrections, such as cropping, placement of subjects, and so on. Then shoot two or three more. Never take just one frame, because someone is always bound to blink or look away. The beauty of digital photography is that you can choose the frame you want before you print, a luxury that film did not offer.

Give your subjects a moment to prepare for the posed shot. Some people like to have the opportunity to be ready for the photo; they need to remove their glasses, set down a cup, fix their make-up, and so on. With a posed shot, you should allow your subjects to do what they need to feel more comfortable in the photo, which will make the experience more enjoyable for them and result in a better picture.

Blend the two techniques. One more fun thing to try is to take both posed and candid shots together. Take a candid shot first, and then let the subjects pose for a few shots. Then snap a couple more candid shots after they turn to talk or mingle again. You’ll find that the last few candid shots may be the best, especially if the subjects didn’t see them coming!

Play around with these different styles of shooting candid and posed shots. Remember that the more tricks you have in your bag, the better your photos will look!

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