A recipe for better portraits


Candid photos are one of the best forms of storytelling. They focus on spontaneity and capturing real moments.

In the past years, “candid moments” in photography have become increasingly popular and stock photography websites have shifted towards more natural looking portraits and candid shots rather than staged and fake-looking images.

The trend is leaning towards authenticity.

Capturing good candid portraits can be tricky, so here are five tips to seize those spontaneous moments like a pro.

  1. Have your camera ready and shoot in “burst mode”

People are unpredictable, and every photographer knows that it takes tons of tries to capture that one perfect shot. In this case, you only get one chance when taking candid photos.

Having your camera always on you, with your settings dialed-in and ready to shoot, is important to capture those fleeting moments. You’ll spend less time fiddling with your camera menu and more time focusing on the moment.

Continuous shooting (also known as burst mode) can also allow you to capture changing facial expressions that you’d have never gotten if you had shot only one frame.

  1. Don’t use your flash

There’s nothing like a blinding flash of light in the eyes to kill a spontaneous moment. If you want to capture candid photos, make sure to disable the flash unit on your camera.

If you’re struggling with your exposure due to low light, try increasing your ISO, opening your aperture, or changing to a faster lens. This will also allow you to blend into the background and avoid distracting your subjects.

  1. Photograph people doing things

When photographing a subject, wait for them to forget about your presence and focus on a task they’re doing.

Staged photos of smiling people sitting passively and doing nothing aren’t as interesting as portraits of people focused on a task. It also adds an element of storytelling which captures the viewer’s attention and makes your photo stronger.

  1. People interacting with people

Another great way to capture candid portraits is to have multiple people interact with each other and create a connection.

You can ask your subjects to do simple things such as hold hands, tell each other jokes, or share a fond memory together. You can also include pets and have children and adults interact with them.

This will guide them into natural interactions, allow them to feel more relaxed, and help them ignore the camera altogether.

  1. Use your environment and compose your shot

Candid photography is about capturing that split-second spontaneous moment, but it helps to think ahead and anticipate it to increase your chances of getting that special shot.

Try scouting the area you are planning to shoot at and find a good spot. Be aware of your surroundings.

By visualizing the potential composition and moment you are trying to capture, you’ll be prepared to shoot when your subject enters the frame.

— Daniel