Capturing Candids for Beautiful Event Photography

BlogHer Original Post

Recently, a very close friend of the family asked me if I would photograph her wedding. I instantly felt panicked because I am not a wedding photographer. I consider myself a candid photographer.

What does that mean? I'm best at capturing the moments of big events that may could easily be forgotten had it not been captured by a photograph. I am not a big fan of staged photography. Don't get me wrong, it absolutely has its value and there are many photographers who are creative and talented enough to make the most beautiful staged shots. I happen not to be one of them.

My joy, my passion is the candid photo. I love to capture the little details, the interactions between people, the moments that make a day memorable. Nothing brings me more joy than to watch someone look through my photos and say things like "I didn't know that happened!" Or "I missed that, thank you for capturing that!" Here are my tips to help you capture amazing candid photos, whether it's for a big event like a wedding, a day at the park with the family, or a child's birthday party.

Stand back and pay attention to what's happening.

To get the best candid shots, you need to capture people unaware. You want to capture moments as they happen authentically. This may mean making yourself invisible by standing out of the way so you can have a full grasp on what's happening around you and so that others will not be tempted to pose for a shot. Zoom lens is your friend in these types of situations.

Family portrait reflection
While standing back, observing the goings-on at a birthday party I was asked to photograph, I caught a glimpse of the birthday boy with his parents standing in front of a mirror. Because I was out of the way, they were oblivious to my presence. I was able to zoom in on their reflection in the mirror. It turned out to be one of their favorite shots of the day.

Candid wedding portrait
After shooting the bridal party getting ready, I quietly stepped outside of the room and shut the curtains a bit behind me. While standing outside, I looked into the room through my lens and captured this moment without being noticed.

Turn off the flash.

It's hard to capture spontaneous moments if your flash goes off every time you snap a shot. If you're in a low light situation, you can crank up the ISO and be sure to use a fast lens. Flash can totally ruin a moment or create a distraction that could possibly ruin a moment you would have captured otherwise.

Change your perspective.

When capturing a moment, take several shots from different, unique angles (keeping the Rule of Thirds in mind, of course.) Don't be afraid to get down and dirty (literally) by kneeling on the ground or actually laying on the ground to capture a moment from a different point of view. Here are a few examples.

Wedding dancing

Couple in a mirror

Baby walking

Wedding Party Portrait

Capturing expressions is important.

Pay attention to what's happening in the moment. Laughing, tears, children being silly. When you see little moments like that, be sure to snap away and capture the emotions as best as you can.

Groomsmen

Woman and baby
Lastly, don't hesitate.

When you see a moment, take the shot. You can't recreate authentic moments. It's better to take lots of shots and delete later if necessary than to not take the shot at all.

This post is part of BlogHer's Pro Photo Tips series, made possible by Panasonic.

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