Candid Family Photography

Whether you are a professional or novice photographer one of the more challenging activities you will encounter is the taking of candid photographs. Why? When people are aware of a camera they tend to act differently than normal. There are ways to eliminate artificial smiles or rigid poses, however, and this brief discussion will cover some of the best approaches to candid photography at family events or on family occasions.

Let’s first look at the obvious – the camera itself. If you have a camera held up to your face, and one with a flash firing every few seconds, you are ruining your chances for truly candid shots. This means first setting the camera to low-light settings to avoid the need for the flash, and then literally shooting from your hip or chest area. If subjects don’t know that you are hitting the shutter release, because you are not looking through a view finder or staring at the small LCD display, they are more likely to act normally and much more relaxed.

Does this mean you are randomly firing away at anything in front of you? Absolutely not! You can still easily compose your candid family shots before lowering the camera away from your eyes. This, however, requires some thought and a bit of effort.

For example, some of the best candid family photographs people “doing something” in the image. Whether this is children playing a game, two senior citizens speaking animatedly to one another, or a young couple smiling into one another’s faces, it is important that you ensure your shots have some interaction to give them strength.

You may also want to stand in a way that has the subject(s) of the shot framed by elements in the foreground. For example, you can include a portion of the doorway leading into the kitchen in your shot of a group of family members stealing nibbles of the Thanksgiving Turkey or laughing as they do the dishes.

If you hope to get in close for a candid shot you will not be able to do so without also using one of your better long zoom lenses. This is due to obvious reasons – there are no candid shots when the photographer is only a few feet or inches from the people in the scene. This can mean that you will need to stand on the perimeter of a room and shoot into a group of people, but often you can achieve success if you can avoid using the flash.

Lastly, many modern photographers don’t go anywhere without a laptop, and with them they can use the webcam or onboard camera in their computer to take timed photographs.

Some remarkable series of photographs can be achieved by setting the camera overlooking a dinner table or gathering and then cueing it to take images every few minutes. No one will know this is happening and it makes for some wonderful and candid shots.

By Amy Renfrey

Learn Digital Photography


5 comments on “Candid Family Photography

  1. Heyamy very first comment on your site. ,I have been reading your blog for a while and thought I would completely pop in and drop a friendly note. . It is great stuff indeed. I also wanted to there a way to subscribe to your site via email?

    • Dear Milford,

      Thanks for leaving a lovely comment on my blog.

      I thank you for wanting to subscribe. 😉

      If you love the articles, you will love our monthly Ezine. I’ve attached a copy of one of the issues for you to see. You get a video tutorial with the ezine each month plus tons of excellent articles too. We’ve now introduced a new travel section.

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      It’s available via annual subscription and if you buy via the website, we’re giving 5 issues to you for f*r*ee.

      Let me know how I can help you. I would love to assist you on your journey forward.

      Amy Renfrey Teaching Digital Photography Enthusiasts All Over The World How To Take Photos With Superb Clarity And Detail Want to see what I’m up to? Follow me on Twitter

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