Candid Photography is a type of photography in which a photograph is taken without any posed appearance of the person in the photograph.

The word “candid” itself means truthful and straightforward, which in photography comes as a spontaneous image of a person or scene without any prior planning or staging of the scene.

“The pictures are there, and you just take them.”– Robert Capa

This usually does not involve any consent or attention of the subject towards the camera.

In simpler terms absence of posing for a photograph is the key factor of candid photography.

This also comes with a restriction that if the person or a group in your frame are unknown to you. The pictures would be suitable for only editorial purposes and unfit for any commercial use as it would be hard to get a model release form from the recognisable people in the photo.

Secret Photography comes as a special case of candid photography where the person is completely unaware of even the presence of a camera around them, such photography is done by the security agencies for their special purposes. 

4 Major Ways To Click A Candid Photograph: 

  • You capture your subject in motion 
  • When you avoid any prior preparation for the shot
  • By capturing any surprising moment
  • Without disturbing your subject and let them do their work


Dr. Erich Salomon is credited to be the first person to showcase candid photography in his pictures during the late 1920s and early 30s when he photographed the politicians and diplomats of a social elite from Berlin in Germany.

He was probably the first Candid Photographer of the world. That time he used a camera by the brand Ermanox which came with an f/1.8 Ernostar lens.

An English editor used the word “candid” to describe the photos of Salomon from the League of Nations Conference and thus such photography came to be known as candid photography to the world in the later years.

At the same time, the 35mm camera offered by Leica came to be popularly known as the camera for candid photography.


The usual choice for such a shoot is small & handy equipment which is unobtrusive and smaller in size so that it gets accommodated easily. 

This helps to prevent any disturbance of our subject. Black has been the preferred colour choice for such equipment since the very beginning.

It is also recommended to not use any additional flash or light source which may alert the subject before the shot has been taken, natural light is always preferred for such shots. Hence, outdoor shoots are usually planned for such photography which provides ample light to keep the ISO and grains minimum without using any flash.

The natural behaviour of the subject is the prime criteria to sort photos into this category. If the subject becomes self-conscious and may also look into the camera then such photos won’t be called candid photos.

Indoor Shoots for such photography requires more sensitive cameras which may come at an additional cost as well.


Historically such photos were mostly associated with grains and high contrasts, although today as the technology advanced, we have much better choices available to cope with such issues.

DSLRs made it easier to take low light photos without an additional light source or a flash, full-frame DSLRs further brought down the high ISO issues allowing us to shoot at considerable high speeds without compensating with the quality of the images.   

Point and shoot cameras have been widely accepted by common people for casual purposes because they may suffer from distortion, vignetting or over-saturated colours in the images. 

Candid photography is usually done at a low shutter speed as the use of flash is prohibited which may give blur outputs due to camera shake or subject’s quick movement which are acceptable up to a certain limit in this field of photography.

In earlier days black and white film gave better film speed than the colour one. Hence, black and white photos came up as a distinguishing characteristic of candid photography.


Bracketing in photography is the technique of taking multiple shots of different exposures at a time.

Usually three are taken out of which one is at the normal exposure as set by the photographer. While one of the other two is generally underexposed by 1 or 2 stops and the third one is overexposed by 1 or 2 stops.

This is done automatically by the camera once the basic settings are done by the photographer in the camera menu. 

Such settings are usually used when it is difficult to capture the scene due to sensitivity of light and we observe a large variation in image results by a small variation of exposure.

Most of the modern cameras now have an option known as Auto Bracketing which takes care of the settings after the initial setup.

This helps the photographer to choose the image with best suitable exposure during the post production.



Weddings for all of us are a once in a lifetime experience and we all wish to treasure those special moments through pictures and videos. In earlier days due to limited technology and innovations, most of the wedding pictures at the time of our parent’s weddings used to be still and posed photos. 

But today trends have been changing really fast and people are looking for those impromptu moments of their weddings which reflects sudden emotions and unframed scenes. 

And hence candid photography made a space for itself in the weddings as well. Although there are always some fans of traditional photography, I feel a mix of both is a perfect combination. 


Candid Photography brings a sense of realism and is always spontaneous while traditional wedding photography is more about staging a shot usually with family members before we click them.

While the candids make sure a raw moment is captured beautifully. A traditional photograph makes sure that everyone & everything important is present in the picture. Indian Wedding Photography is usually a mix of both.

In candid photography, the photographer roams around the wedding area and picks random shots relevant to the hosts. Which may be the scenes from their rituals, their guests or themselves. While in traditional photography the photographer usually sticks to the main centre of events and makes sure not to miss any events.

Cost of candid photography is usually higher than the cost of traditional photography as candids require additional skills and higher quality equipment as well.

Candid photography usually follows a casual approach, while traditional photography has a formal approach, people are aware that they are being clicked and the shot is taken only when all people are ready for it and usually looking into the camera.


Although posing in front of the camera while wearing all those pretty dresses is still a trend and that may never fade. While the candid photography helps in bringing out real emotions and feelings of those special moments.

In traditional wedding photography, usually, the wedding couple is the centre of attraction and your main subject. Although in candid photography we as photographers can be more creative in framing our shots which may or may not include our main subjects to be the primary focus of the frame.

The informal tone of the candid photography also reflects in its post-processing also. Which may demand some additional skills or a new approach from the photographers.

Ambience also plays a major role in distinguishing the two forms of art from one another.

Concluding on the differences, although candids are a new trend. The traditional photography would always have its own value and fan base.

Taking a shot when some was not expecting it is the most basic definition of candid photography. But that doesn’t mean they are really easy in approach. In reality, they need more planning, patience and strategic positioning of the camera to get those perfect frames that you and I admire on our social feeds.


#1: Choose the Right Gear

Although candid photography can be done using any camera although a high-speed camera with long lenses (like a 70-200mm zoom lens) is my recommendation for you.

This would help you to stay away from your subjects and observe the scene from a distance. While pressing the shutter whenever you feel it’s the right moment.

It will be difficult if you would try to do the same with a 35mm or 50mm prime lens, being close to filling the frame. You will definitely grab some attention and may distort the natural environment.

#2: Observe Before You Shoot

You have to build skills to find those photo-worthy moments through your eyes. Before you can use the camera to freeze them.

As a good candid photographer, you are expected to scan the large crowds from a distance and find the right spots to focus on those candid moments happening around you.

You should be able to filter out the noise with your eyes before you are ready to press the shutter. Ask these few questions to yourself before taking a candid shot. They may help you to find your perfect frame:

  1. Is the lighting perfect?
  2. What can be the best angle to take this shot?
  3. Is the background okay? 
  4. Can you add an interesting subject in your foreground?

These are just a few suggestions from my side which will help you to compose your shots in a better and planned way. Although it’s an art, and every artist has their own style.

#3: Don’t Ignore The Lightning

Make sure there is ample natural light available wherever you plan to shoot. A backlit scene can help you get beautiful silhouetted candids while front lighting can help you reveal the emotions perfectly.

#4: Choose The Perfect Angle:

It may be preferred to shoot at the eye level but at times low-angle or high-angle shots. That can also prove to be useful for candid nature of photographs.

At times a kid’s eye level may give you a completely new perspective to look at the same view.

#5: Background Matters

Be it any kind of portrait photography, background always plays an important role in the positioning of your subject. 

It’s up to you to choose a shallow depth of field and blur any unwanted objects or to use some of them to your advantage by using them as props. 

Cropping the perfect frame before pressing the shutter is also an important skill. It will help you in candid photography as well as it will reduce your work during post-processing.

#6: Keep The Camera Ready

Instead of putting it into a bag, prefer using a  sling or shoulder strap or a harness whichever suits you.

A wrist strap may also be useful if you have to take many shots in a short duration of time.

#7: Preferred Camera Settings

Since you ‘ll be in a new situation for every candid shot, there is no particular camera setting that may work all the time. But there are certain recommendations for you, which will help you take better shots. 

  1. ISO should be as minimum as possible. No one likes grains and noise.
  2. To freeze action you should prefer faster shutter speed, 1/250 sec or higher would be my suggestion. 
  3. If the background is disturbing, blur it by opening aperture or using lower f-number like f/1.8 to f/4.5
  4. Instead of using manual (M-mode) I would prefer to go with Aperture ( A-mode) or Shutter Priority (S-mode) this will help you balance the exposure quickly. You may not miss any important scene, just because you were busy in finding the perfect camera setting.
  5. In low light situations Aperture ( A-mode) is useful, while taking action shots like during a dance, Shutter Priority (S-mode) is beneficial.
  6. Single Shot Auto Focus (AF-S) should be preferred until there is lots of action going on.

#8: Avoid Flash

Using a flash can alert the people that a photo is being taken which may spoil your candid moment, also it can totally make the looks unnatural so you have to be very careful.

#9: Understand The Exposure Triangle

Balancing the Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO is a skill that every photographer must-have, this will not only help you take better photos but it will also help you stand out from others in the long run.

#10: Take Multiple Shots or Use Bracketing

If there is a lot of action or you are not at a suitable position to make your camera stable in low light conditions, it is always better to take many photos so that later you can choose the best one to show to your clients.

10 Best Candid Photography Examples:

1. Perfect Timing

2. Focus On The Face

3. Create Visual Stories

4. Choose Your Subject 

5. The Angle Matters

6. Stay At A Distance

7. Look For Emotions

8. Play With Light

9. Don’t Miss The Action

10. Plan Your Frame



Candid photography is all about being active and responsive towards your surroundings. 

Observe what’s happening around you, place yourself at a suitable position and angle. Be ready with your camera and just wait for the perfect moment to press the shutter. 

That’s the guru mantra for candid photography. 

I hope this article has been helpful for you to know more about candid photography. Now it’s your turn to go out and practice it. I would recommend you to read Art of Storytelling in Photography.

If you have any questions drop them into the comments, I’ll surely try to help. Share it with your friends if you think this was helpful and gave you clarity about the topic. 

Keep Clicking! 

About the Author:

Abhishek Saraswat, known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet is an Indian travel blogger and photographer. He is an adventure freak and a digital nomad. His skill set includes content writing, advertising photography, blogging and digital marketing.
Himalayan Gypsy is his personal brand and he goes by the handle @himalayan_gypsy over the social media.

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