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How to Treasure Candid Photos Capture You ' ll

The post ' How to capture Candid Photos You ' ll Treasure ' first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Mat Coker.

Most people agree that the moment is the most important part of a photo.

Even if you achieve a perfect exposure or a beautiful composition, you do not feel that it makes up for the moment.

Strangely enough, if it's a good time, people will enjoy your photo, despite technical errors such as motion blur or underexposure.

Candid photography

I learned about capturing candid moments by watching my mother take photos. She saw moments before they happened and recorded them with her point and film camera. She took this photo of my grandmothers who helped each other to take a photo.

You have probably noticed how much interaction your friends' photos get on social media. It can be the worst photo from a technical perspective (dark, blurry, misguided) and people will behave as if it is the best photo they have ever seen. It's beautiful! As a photographer you moan because you see all the mistakes. But chances are that they have captured a good moment. And that good moment overshadowed everything else.

As photographers (amateurs or professionals) we are called to a higher standard. We are not only concerned with the moment, but also with the technical aspects.

Given the importance of the moment, let's focus on that. And let's focus specifically on spontaneous or candid moments.

Photojournalism and lifestyle photography are often highly dependent on candid moments. Such as street, travel and nature photography.

To capture good candid moments, you need to learn two important skills:

  1. The ability to see future events before they happen
  2. Know the correct "camera settings" to record those events

It requires some practice, but learning to see the future is not as impossible as you think.

wildlife candid moment

I happened to see this mother bird feeding her little ones. She continued her rounds for a long time, so I found my camera and waited for her to come back. While I was waiting, I found good settings for my exposure. Then it was just a matter of waiting and waiting for her to come back. I got cramps in my legs and missed her more than once. But in the end I made some photos that I liked.

How to see the future

At first it may seem as if you have no control over moments. Everything is chaotic and you have no idea when a moment will happen. But with practice, you will feel that you really have a lot of control over spontaneous moments.

To capture good candid moments, you must be able to see the future. Seeing the future means developing the ability to anticipate what will happen before it happens.

Some things are easy to predict because they are so predictable. The sun rises and sets every day. If you want a nice photo of the sunrise, you know exactly when it will happen.

candid moments in the water

Waves are predictable, they just keep coming in.

But what about anticipating less predictable moments? You do not know exactly when a storm will occur or what form it will take exactly. If you want to photograph storms, look at how they behave over the course of the seasons. Where I live, it is very rare to have thunderstorms, but you can feel it in the air when you get there.

Other things, such as people, seem completely unpredictable. Take toddlers for example. Who knows what are they going to do anytime?

But even something as seemingly random and chaotic as the behavior of toddlers is predictable. The pattern takes a little longer.

Patterns are the key to seeing moments before they happen.

Patterns are woven into our culture, our relationships and our personality.

Pay attention to the things you like to photograph, pay attention to patterns and pay attention. Your ability to anticipate increases with time if you regularly observe and practice.

anticipate moments

I have noticed that every time the house goes quiet, my toddler has found something interesting to do. Before I go find him, I pick up my camera and try not to interrupt what he does.

Learn to anticipate moments by searching for patterns. As soon as you can do this, you can see the future (which has benefits beyond photography). If you feel a moment approaching, the worst thing you can do is interrupt.

What kind of frank moment is it?

By being aware of the kind of moment, you can see them more easily.

Some moments are full of action, emotion or a sense of mystery.

Action moment


Emotion moment


Mysterious moment


Nature also has candid moments

Even nature (flowers, landscapes, water) has candid moments. Finally, we do not normally present our nature photos. We come to nature to do something interesting and we take a picture.

The moments in nature are constantly changing. Think of a simple landscape. That landscape looks very different, depending on the time of day, from season to season and in different weather.

Candid moments in nature

I just killed the time to wait until the night came when I noticed how fast the sky was changing.

Combine human moments with nature's moments

When you photograph people, you can combine their moment with a good natural moment to create a more powerful, candid moment.

Candid moments at golden hour

This photo combines children who play in the snow while brother looks at the golden hour. A combination of people and nature moments.

Combine these people moments:

  • Action
  • Emotion
  • Mystery

With the moments of nature:

  • Season
  • Weather
  • Time of day

"Fail-proof" camera settings

What are the best camera settings to capture good spontaneous moments?

If you do not understand your camera correctly, start with automatic mode. In Auto mode, you don't have to worry about camera settings at all. You can concentrate on seeing the future and be ready for moments. The problem is that the automatic mode will let you down quite a bit by giving your photos that are overexposed or underexposed or blurry.

So you have to start learning about ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Once you understand these three things, you understand many of the technical issues in your photos.

When you are ready to leave the automatic mode, I recommend that you use the aperture priority together with the exposure compensation. Choose the aperture for its creative effect (f / 1.8 for a small depth of field – f / 16 for a larger depth of field). Let the camera figure out the rest. Then just focus on capturing the moment. Use exposure compensation when photos are too dark or too bright.

depth of Field

This candid photo at the dining table was made in Aperture mode. The aperture is set to f / 2.8, blurring the background. A f / 16 aperture would have portrayed much of the background.

Depth of Field

More of the foreground and background are in focus at f / 11.

Continue to manual mode when you are ready for that challenge. But even if you feel comfortable in manual mode, you may find yourself struggling too much through the settings while trying to capture spontaneous moments.

If you are good at anticipating moments, you can take a few test shots and look at the exposure. You can adjust your settings and still be ready to capture the moment that you know is coming.

As soon as you are completely familiar with how your camera works, you can forget it right now.

Work with the light that you have

You probably won't have the ability to manipulate the light too much when it comes to candid photography. You can use your pop-up or external flash, but you will find that this will interrupt the moment. I prefer to use the ambient light that happens to be there and become creative with it.

candid silhouette

My first few frames were shown so that you could see all the details in this scene. But then I saw the potential for an interesting silhouette.

spontaneous side lighting

It was the light itself that drew me to this moment.

Candid moments are about presence and exploration

Candid moments are about presence. You have to be there and be part of the moment. Yes, you are just far enough away to take a photo, but you are just as much a part of the moments that you capture as the people and places in your photos ' s.

You don't expect to walk into a scene, make a great candid shot, and move on. You have to be around long enough to understand what's going on and see the future.

It is never the moment that you think. You anticipate what will happen and even when you capture a great moment, more will follow. Some will completely surprise you as you begin to see new patterns that you have not noticed before. Patterns run quite deep and you need to be able to see some simple ones before the deeper ones reveal themselves.

Toddler candid moment

Have you noticed how toddlers imitate everyone? After Mom was done, this little man came by and did his own.


Candid photography, whether it's photojournalism, lifestyle, street, wildlife or travel photography, is about exploring. So don't take one photo and walk away. Start taking photos before the moment is real and keep taking photos after it has passed. Be alert and ready for all other moments that are about to unfold.

Ideally, you should run away from a meeting that has learned something. You may have seen a deeper pattern, predicted a better moment, or received a good photo because you were there earlier and stayed longer.

The post ' How to capture Candid Photos You ' ll Treasure ' first appeared at Digital Photography School. It is written by Mat Coker.

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