How To Take Meaningful Candid Shots

When people refer to candid photography as a thing, they tend to see it as a genre, but this is not exactly how candid works. Candid (in photography) must be seen as a feature because it really refers to a way of approaching subjects.

It’s not a genre. Documentary photography, photojournalism and street photography are the genres that perhaps benefit the most from candid approaches.

Image by Federico Alegría

Candid images are images of people in which the subjects are or appear to be unaware that they are being photographed. This typically happens in two circumstances. The first is that people may be so used to the photographer being around that they start acting naturally.

That’s the moment when the photographer needs to starting shooting (if capturing things naturally is one of the photographer’s goals). The other way to achieve a candid look is by being very inconspicuous at the moment the photograph is taken.

Taking candid images is easy if you just shoot randomly at crowds on the street, for example. The trick is to capture meaningful candid shots beyond snapshots of oblivious pedestrians.

Today we’re going to talk a bit about how you can develop a certain mindset that will help you capture meaningful candid shots, and also some tricks that will benefit your approach.

Mind the Subjects (Approaching Strangers)

Photographers often hold themselves back from taking candid images because of an unwillingness to approach strangers in their daily environments. Some people are very good at it; some are less skilled. Some photographers advise you to take pictures of street performers to develop confidence.

Others say to approach people with dogs since it is very unlikely you’ll get a “No” from a dog owner when you ask them for a photograph of them or their dog. The great photographer Elliott Erwitt had a predilection towards photographing dogs in the streets.

Image by Federico Alegría

Whenever entering a new social environment (in which you are an outsider or actual stranger), always try to make your best social skills shine.

The big difference between photographers who achieve meaningful images and those who don’t is that the former is able to gain peoples‘ trust – an incredibly invaluable asset for any photographer. Try to make people like you without being too pushy. Just show real interest and passion for actually being there with them.

Street Portraits Can Disguise Candid Shots

Some people are great at getting portraits of strangers on the streets. There is a whole debate about whether street portraiture is street photography or not. Thankfully, today we’re talking about candid imagery, so we can avoid that endless rocky road.

Meanwhile, when these portraits happen (between poses) you can achieve some pretty good candid images if you play dumb enough. One of the best tricks I’ve found is to ask for a pose, then fib about when I’m actually pressing the shutter button. I’ve achieved some interesting candid results that feel very natural, quite unlike the traditional “stranger in front of the camera” poses.


Capturing candid shots is all about being inconspicuous, and one of the best ways to do this is by using compact cameras. Technology has evolved into a magnificent state where we now have some amazingly powerful cameras with tiny bodies.

People are more relaxed with any photographer with a small, unthreatening camera, unlike how they often react in front of a photographer armed with a large, intrusive camera.

Image by Federico Alegría

Mirrorless camera systems are the future for many photographers, and thankfully they too are small and unthreatening. If you want to achieve candid results, you’ll eventually need to a reliable portable camera you can keep by your side at all times.

Nowadays, I’m using a Fujifilm X100T camera. Previously I had the great pleasure of working with a Canon G1X. Being able to have a camera with you at all times broadens your possibilities of capturing reality in a candid way. There is no exact recipe or rule about gear when it comes to candid imagery – but small cameras make it easier to achieve it.

One of the main advantages of working with prime lenses – beyond their powerful aperture capabilities – is their size. Prime lenses tend to be smaller than zoom lenses, and that’s why many photographers love working with primes when capturing reality. They don’t interrupt it all.

But most photographers seeking candid results would rather work with discreet and silent cameras, and they often cover the brand name on the camera body with black tape to make them less showy. Some of us have even opted for generic nameless straps to draw less attention to ourselves. After all, many of us aren’t sponsored by any brands, so it makes sense to keep them covered.


Cameras have become amazing at handling noise at high ISO values, which is why so many photographers have stopped worrying about ISO and just set it to auto. The great thing is that you can restrain that auto-ness by telling the camera to not go beyond 800, for example. When working with complex light situations in the streets, this feature might actually save your day.

Another extremely helpful setting is Aperture Priority mode because things tend to happen quickly when you’re aiming for a candid approach. With Aperture Priority, you are the master of your aperture value and rely on the camera to handle the shutter speed (which tends to oscillate between 1/60 to 1/250 on the streets).

About Ethics

Image by Federico Alegría

Try to always be respectful, and never shoot images of people in vulnerable situations. If somebody asks you to delete a picture, please do it, without arguing. If you don’t, you’ll just make our work as street photographers more complex.

We hope that these little tricks will help you achieve natural and candid results when photographing people. One of the best examples of how you can push the limits, in terms of being inconspicuous for achieving candid results, is the work of Walker Evans.

Evans was known for covering all the shiny parts of his camera with matte black paint – and if that wasn’t enough, he hid it under his jacket to capture daily life in the subways. The most emblematic photograph in that series of images by Walker Evans is this one.

The post How To Take Meaningful Candid Shots appeared first on Light Stalking.


5 Ways For Photographers to Use Squarespace Cover Pages (Sponsored)

The best photography websites are clear and to-the-point. When visiting any photographer’s site, I’m always both excited and relieved to see a landing page with beautiful visuals, minimal fuss, and straight-forward information. One great tool for making a strong impression on your followers and clients is Squarespace’s range of Cover Pages, all designed to create an impact without needless distractions.

Two years ago, we ran a story about how Cover Pages can work for photographers. We interviewed influential artists, and we examined the creative ways in which they use these pages as a tool to grow their audiences. Since then, however, we’ve seen more innovative, clever uses for Cover Pages than we could have imagined. Based on some of the most impressive photography websites we’ve come across in the last years, we put together this guide of our top five reasons for getting a Cover Page.

Photographers can use Squarespace Cover Pages to:

1. Announce a new project, exhibition, or book.

Let’s say you want to promote your latest Kickstarter campaign or exhibition opening. You don’t want the announcement to get lost in your website, but you don’t want to build a whole separate website for every event or project you might have. A Cover Page is the perfect solution. As the first thing people see when they visit your site, this page will convey all the important information easily and concisely. Call to action buttons can direct followers straight to convenient RSVP forms or even to outside websites, like your gallery, publisher, or fundraiser. Instead of using the same old homepage all the time, you can update this page with new layouts whenever you wish and adapt it for each and every venture that comes your way.

2. Gather contact information and connect with followers.

We already knew that incorporating a Cover Page can inspire people to stay on your site longer without clicking away, but one thing I didn’t realize initially is that clients can also use a photographer’s Cover Page to stay in touch. In my opinion, complicated and convoluted navigational tools spell the death of any website, and one of the most frustrating things can be fishing around for a place to subscribe to email updates. If I have to scroll through pages and pages just to find a “subscribe” button, I usually give up, and that’s a real shame because I want to see new work by the photographers I follow. With Cover Pages, you can introduce a subscribe form right at the get-go so you can easily stay in contact with your audience. It’s great to have the option of subscribing without even having to enter the main website.

3. Display images or video.

Squarespace Cover Pages stand out from typical landing pages because they give you the option of using videos or slideshows of images. You can give visitors to your website a sneak-peek into your portfolio by displaying your strongest images right off the bat, or you could upload a dynamic video background. Cover Pages are simple and clean, but with great images (still or moving), they can absolutely steal the show.

4. Tease a new website.

Photographers are busy, and while we’ve interviewed multiple photographers who got their Squarespace websites up-and-running in less than a day, there’s no timeline for building the perfect website. Cover Pages are independent of the rest of your site, so you can push it live before you work out all the details of your other pages. While your main website is still under construction, you can give visitors the basic info they need to get in touch as well as links to your social media; in fact, you can even incorporate your Twitter feed into your Cover Page. In the meantime, you can keep your other pages disabled or password protected. A photographer once told me that a Cover Page is like a theater curtain before a play. It’s sophisticated and elegant in its own right, but it also provokes a sense of anticipation. There are multiple design layouts available for these pages, so you can give followers a taste of what’s to come.

5. Establish a significant online presence without the hassle.

Until now, we’ve been assuming that a Cover Page is a landing page, or an introduction, to a larger website, but that’s not necessarily the case. Some of the most memorable websites I’ve seen have been a standalone Cover Page, complete with vivid imagery, contact information, and social links. At Feature Shoot, we regularly use Instagram to find photographers, but Instagram alone doesn’t provide enough information. I want to know how I can get in touch and see more work. That’s where Cover Pages shine. If you’re a photographer on Instagram, and you just don’t have the time to create an elaborate portfolio site, a standalone Cover Page gives you all of the efficiency of a website without the hassle. Want to build a fantastic website in ten minutes flat? It’s possible with Squarespace.

Make your own beautiful website today with Squarespace, and use the code FEATURESHOOT to get 10% off your first purchase.

Squarespace is a Feature Shoot sponsor.

The post 5 Ways For Photographers to Use Squarespace Cover Pages (Sponsored) appeared first on Feature Shoot.

Secrets for Finding Unique (and FREE) Spaces for Your Photoshoots

Scouting new and exciting locations is a major part of keeping your photography fresh. Discover these tips from pro photographers on how they uncover captivating photoshoot locations-for free.

Last year, TIME magazine named Julius Shulman’s Case Study House no. 22, Los Angeles “the most successful real estate image ever taken.” Shulman photographed the Stahl House in the spring of 1960, shortly after it was finished by the architect Pierre Koenig. The now-iconic picture was meticulously staged, from the models recruited to pose as homeowners to the furniture on loan from the Van Keppel-Green firm.

The photograph was included in the Case Study House Program by Arts & Architecture, and the magazine made a deal with some of the homeowners included in the project. If they agreed to allow their houses to be part of the project, the owners would pay for the building materials at a reduced cost. Once the production was over, normal life resumed for the families who called these houses home.

The “quid pro quo” approach to securing locations is a creative one, and it didn’t end with Arts & Architecture and Julius Shulman. Today, photographers find and acquire spaces in all sorts of unique ways, from renting outright to swapping favors. We asked seven lifestyle photographers to share any tips they have for both finding spots and gaining access to them. Below, they share their wisdom and some behind-the-scenes stories from their shoots.

1. “Offer your high-level, expensive services for free in exchange for using their space.”

Zurijeta (Jasmin Merdan)

Image by Zurijeta (Jasmin Merdan). Gear: Nikon D700 camera, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, Manfrotto tripod. Settings: Focal length 35mm; exposure 1/5 sec; f7.1; ISO 200.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This lab was actually part of a factory that made medicines for a pharmaceutical company. We had a deal: we would use the space for taking pictures, and the company would get our pictures as well. It was a win-win situation. There were two of us-me and my friend, also a photographer-and each of us used a different room and worked with our models. When we finished in one room, we’d switch.

What tips would you give to other photographers about finding locations to shoot?

A good and successful image isn’t necessarily an expensively produced image, and vice versa. This is maybe the best advice I can share with other photographers. The best trick for finding a free space is to deal with people who might need your services as a professional photographer: an agency, a new company, or maybe a building owner. Everybody needs a good photographer. Offer your high-level, expensive services for free in exchange for using their space.