Candid Photo Session: Tips for Beginners

icon Jun 07, 2021

Candid photo session takes place in a genre that was invented a few decades ago. Within this genre, many photographers prefer to take spontaneous photographs, without a prearranged script. Any photographer needs to know how to take good candid shots because this will help the photographer develop a skill. This article offers you a definition of what a candid photo session is. You can also find out what other genres you can combine a candid photo session with and what techniques need to use a photographer. Our guide includes important tips and ideas for capturing explicit scenes and emotions.

photo model

Definition of candid photo session

Candid photo session is performed in a genre with the following features:

  • unplanned situations;
  • scenes with people who are not trained models.

Candid photo session is intended to capture a person’s sincere feelings. A photographer must know how to capture the perfect moment. But this does not mean that the genre is illegal. A girl or a guy who takes a photograph may well be aware that they’re actually at a photoshoot. However, candid photo session is intended to capture the most sincere emotions of models. Photojournalism has ambiguous opinions about candid photo sessions. The main presentation, which many journalists call illegal, is that many models in candid photo sessions do not even suspect that they are being photographed, and such models may be against it.

Photographers who wish to gain additional skills in candid photo session can use Royalty Free Stock Images platform.

What other genres are combines with candid photo

Candid photo session is very easy to combine with a variety of genres. However, this style of photography was originally associated with a street photograph. The reason is simple: in the streets of a big city, it’s much harder to see a photographer pointing his camera at you. Photographers also like to portray faces of people who don’t know that they are in the camera eye. Candid photo session is very popular on such holidays as weddings and birthdays.

You can look at examples of candid photos on the Stock Video Footage platform.

Equipment for candid photography

Candid photography differs from other stylistic directions in photographic art by many parameters. That’s why you can use even a regular smartphone instead of a professional camera. Anything will do! To prove this, we invite you to take a look at the Video Stock Footage platform, where you can see amazing photos that were taken with cheap cameras. However, you can consider a DSLR camera with a set of lenses if you want. Candid photography can also be done during cinema sessions. You can use a hidden camera or a hidden film camera. To make the shooting more convenient, experiment with a smartphone. It can also be safely hidden, for example in the folds of clothes. Use 50 mm fixed lenses to work with a wide range of apertures. If you plan to photograph people from a long distance, then look for a universal telephoto lens 70-200 mm. If you can’t figure out which camera to buy, just look at Stock Clips. There you will find anything.

How to make candid photography beautiful and bright

Those who have never practiced the candid genre, but who really want it, can use the advices that are represented below. They’re quite useful.

1. Shutter speed priority mode is your number two.

If you’re planning on secretly photographing people, you’d better do it quickly. A shutter speed of 1/30 can result in unintentional motion blur, which means you have to shoot as fast as 1/500. Those who have no experience in this genre can adjust all three parameters that affect exposure (aperture, ISO, and shutter speed). Your best friend will be the shutter speed priority mode. It will help you choose the appropriate shutter speed. Advanced cameras can automatically set the necessary settings. Automatic mode is not the best option because exposure can become bad, but it is not as important as speed.

2. Create intentional motion blur.

In candid photography, there is no ordinance of the genre that pictures should always be clear and non-blur. It will be very nice if you use contrast. It consists of a combination of blur and clarity. Try to get a defocused image background. Like any other genre of photography, candid photography has a founding father. His name was Henri Cartier-Bresson. He became famous for using motion blur in photography. You can take this as a sample: you will also be proud to make your photos more dynamic, just as Bresson did! Your work will look like this: the “protagonist” of the photo will be blurred, and all the objects surrounding it will be clear. Don’t forget to stabilize the equipment: secure the camera on the tripod to keep it moving. Following these tips, you can be sure that your pictures will turn gorgeous.

3. Choose unique locations.

Special locations are one of the most important elements of the candid photography genre. The city environment is the ideal location for photos in this style. Use any place in the city – whatever you want. Train station, crowded market, parties and events, concerts and festivals, and even city streets in the daytime will be always a good idea. On the streets of the city, people do their own thing, and at times like this, they are especially beautiful and pretty.

4. Move briskly. Improvise with view angles.

For a candid photographer, it is vital to be sensitive and attentive to detail. It may be that the model is aware of your presence and that you have a camera, but you must not show that you are going to photograph it at some point in time. For a model, it might even be a surprise! Try taking pictures with an optical lens, and you won’t be noticed because your camera won’t be noisy.

Those photographers who use simple cameras or a fixed lens should move regularly from place to place. The models will be aware of your presence as a photographer and will feel uncomfortable if you make an obsessive noise with your instrument. It is in such situations that the sincerity of the people is removed from their faces. So that your models don’t get worried and suspicious, try to move around more often.

5. Beware of your camera flashing.

If you prefer to take pictures at night, the flash will be your best friend, of course. However, the photographer, who is practiced in the candid photographer genre, must remember that in this process a photoflash is strictly forbidden. The most important reason for such an implicit rule is that models may become distracted from their work and lose their integrity on their faces. Remember, don’t let people know you’re taking pictures. In addition, you should not forget that built-in flash and speed light fixated on the photographer’s camera creates too contrasting shadows. This function of the camera is detrimental to the beauty of portraits. If you do not want the portrait to be overloaded with details and contrasts between the shadow and the light, it will be more useful to enable an external flashlight with a lantern in the background. This is suitable for those who make a custom candid photo session, for example, for family.

6. Add richness to your shots by thinking through all the details.

Every photographer (even a beginner one) can easily achieve that his photographs will be authentic and at the same time versatile. It’s not that hard to get into one genre or another. However, you can make your photos even more successful and satisfying if you scrutinize the location where you’re going to have the photoshoot. If your supposed model prefers to wear bright clothes and has white skin, you can use these details to create additional contrasts for your photo. Don’t be afraid to use any of the details you want.


Candid photography is a genre that absolutely any photographer should be able to work in. It is within this genre that you can learn to capture details and be as dynamic as possible. Candid photography has incredibly influenced every other genre of photographic art that exists in our world today. Any photographer should be able to take pictures where people’s faces express genuine, sincere emotions. This skill is invaluable to all photographers, from beginners to professionals.

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