DCR Workshop: Taking Better Candid Portraits

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Hard to believe, but that’s the Fourth of July in the rearview mirror and Labor Day on the horizon. For many folks, this marks a return to school in one form or another, and since everyone these days seems to be packing a compact digital camera we at DCR.com thought we’d provide some food for thought in capturing images as you reunite with friends (or enemies, for that matter).

Webster’s offers one definition of candid as “relating to photography of subjects acting naturally and spontaneously without being posed.” A portrait is a “pictorial representation of a person, usually showing the face.” When I think of portraits, a head shot or head-and-shoulders type of subject framing comes to mind, but there are any number of images hanging in museums and art galleries that feature half, three-quarter or even full length paintings or photos that fall into the portrait category.

Our first rule is to not be bound by any particular perspective, and here’s why: I have captured literally hundreds of images of Jeannie on her boogie board in the local surf, and without exception her expression is one of intense concentration as she navigates the waves – intense bordering on almost angry-looking, and completely out of character. But as she was walking up the beach after a morning session I unexpectedly turned the camera on her and got this full length:

Years ago CBS had a show called “Candid Camera” that sought to, in their words, “capture people in the act of being themselves.” The show would set up improbable situations and insert unknowing people into the mix, filming their actions with a hidden camera. So, operating under Webster’s generous guidelines, let’s talk about some more ideas you may want to try and incorporate when you set out to capture folks in the act of being themselves.



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