DCR Workshop: Taking Better Candid Portraits

by Reads (189)

Other Considerations
With a 35mm camera a “normal” lens was one in the 50mm range because it produced an image that took in roughly the same area as the naked eye. “Portrait” lenses tended to range from 85 to about 135mm depending on the photographer’s distance from the subject. In the digital world, even the most modest 3x compacts usually cover the 35 to 105mm or thereabouts focal range, so almost everyone has a good selection of “portrait” focal lengths available. Add to that the advantage of being able to zoom and alter image perspective rather than having to change distance with a prime lens, and any compact becomes a fairly formidable instrument for candid captures.

There’s a growing trend in wedding photography to shoot in a more journalistic style – rather than pose wedding party members and guests in formal shots, the photographer(s) shoot images of opportunity throughout the ceremony and reception. Those of you who are thinking this sounds a bit like Webster’s “spontaneously without being posed” definition of candid get a gold star. But you needn’t have a wedding to go to in order to capture some great images.

And Finally, the Non-Candid Candid
What’s the quickest way to turn a posed, set up shot into a candid? Have the subject look away. Ever notice how some folks freeze or tighten up when a camera points in their direction? It’s almost a deer-in-the-headlights kind of gaze. Have them direct their eyes elsewhere and once they’re not looking into the camera most folks relax and you’ll probably get your shot. Even if they don’t relax they’re not looking into the camera so the shot doesn’t look posed. You can spend hours getting someone into position in front of the camera, and if the eyes don’t make contact with the camera the shot screams “candid.” Try it. Here’s two shots from a Brooks Institute workshop – the model was posed with backlight and about 20 photographers were arrayed around her. Where her eyes go makes all the difference…

There’s a lot of folks out there waiting to be caught in the act of being themselves. Good hunting!

Additional Sample Images

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