Tuesday, June 23, 2009

People Photography: Candid Photography Tips

A number of my friends have recently started upgrading from their point and shoots to a DSLR so I thought I'd offer a few tips for taking nicer everyday shots. I always ask what people plan to do with the cameras and I usually hear that they want to take nicer photos when they are going out and traveling about. I interpret this as "I want to take better pictures of my girlfriend". That said, I'll gear my tips towards that end goal.

Tip 1: Learn the techniques. If you don't know the difference between f/1.8 and f/5.6 or why the camera is blinking EE and won't shoot, figure it out before you miss out on that awesome shot. It is not cool to fiddle with the camera while your girlfriend is looking pretty.

Tip 2: Stand back. Just far enough so that she forgets she momentarily forgets that she's being photographed but not too far that you are mistaken for a stalker. I shoot with a 80-200 f/2.8. Nice blurry background. Nice focused face.

Tip 3: Trigger a reaction. People get used to the camera pretty quickly as long as you don't come off creepy. Make her laugh, smile, pout, frown, or flash her pasties at you.

Tip 4: Take pictures of pretty people. I'm not insensitive, just experienced. Some people are more photogenic than others. If you have unattractive friends, suggest other activities you can do together like karaoke.

Tip 5: Avoid contrast. Your camera can't capture the same range of light that your eyes can see. The general rule is to avoid shooting someone in the shade with a bright sunny background. My general rule is to avoid taking pictures when people are squinting at the bright sun. The best time to generally take a photo is during the "golden hour" just before the sun sets since the light is very warm and soft.

Tip 6: Take lots of photos and keep only the best. You can only get better if you start to notice the small differences that make one shot better than another. It's just training your eyes to look for those little details the next time you are shooting.

Tip 7: Put the camera down. If you are constantly snapping, your girlfriend will get bored. And plus you'll be missing out on whatever you're supposed to be doing.

That's all for now. I'll say that always remembering Tip 4 and 5 will generally yield you the best results, but that's just me. If you've read up to this point, please share this wealth of knowledge with others. Digg it!


  1. stumbled here in your site while browsing for photography blogs. great tips by the way, tip number 4 really made me laugh!

  2. Hello there~ Kien,
    I'm so new in DSLR but Im planning to get one, do you mind giving any comment for which brand of camera should I get? ^^

    By the way, your tips are so correct, I will make use of it ^^