Everyone loves a good candid photo.  Everyone.  Well, unless they are making a funny or awkward face, but assuming that it’s a nice capture – we all love candid photos!

The problem though, is actually getting the candid photos – especially when your subjects are more than aware you are there taking photos and having a hard time relaxing or just “being themselves”.

Have you ever tried to get your client to relax by saying – “just pretend I am not here” or “just be yourself”?  How did it go?  Chances are it made them even more aware of you and more self conscious of themselves only hurting your quest for natural candid photos even more…

Earlier this week on the classmate Facebook photo group, someone asked a question about how to best deal with a difficult family that really wanted candid photos.

Luckily, I have a solution and have put together 5 tips for better candid photos that you can put into action right away to round out your photo shoots with a nice mix of posed and candid photos that your clients will love.

1. Give Actions – No, I am not talking about Photoshop actions!  Whether you are on an engagement or family portrait session it always helps to give your subjects a natural action to do that will elicit a candid moment that you can capture.  Here are just a few easy actions you can prompt your clients with.

  • Walking – Everyone can walk and having your couple or family walking towards you is always an easy action to give.  The key though is to encourage them to talk to each other while walking and thus interact with each other, and not look directly at the camera.
  • “Engagement-Moving-Wrap-Around-Hug” – This is one of my favorite actions and poses for engagement sessions that always gives awesome candid captures.  Have the groom to be walk up from behind (yes really walk to make it more natural and funny) and then wrap his arms around his fiance and squeeze her tight and rock her from side to side a bit.  It always works for me and it can work for you too.  See the photos below to get a better idea.
  • Laying Down – One of my favorite poses for family portraits with kids is to have them all lay down on their bellies on a picnic blanket.  Quite often getting the family to lay down together (something they probably don’t do much) will get some genuine smiles or laughs but if that isn’t enough and the kids are small enough, prompting the parents to tickle the little ones can work wonders!
  • “The Super-Baby” – Sometimes the little ones just aren’t feeling it, that’s when you can just have one or both parents play around with the baby…one action that babies seem to love is the superman baby with them lifting them into the air (safety first people!).  This is always a good one to get both the parents and the baby in good spirits!
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2. Give Space – Most everyone is a bit nervous when getting their photos taken.  After all, they likely have spent a very good amount of money for the photo shoot so they surely want to love the photos they get!  At the start of the photo session in particular, start off shooting from afar with a longer telephoto lens.  Not only will this help them relax and put the initial photo session jitters away but they will feel more relaxed to converse and interact with each other from far away rather than you getting up-close and personal.

Do you have a favorite candid photo you’ve taken? Enter it in the Cole’s Clique photo contest where we are giving away $500 in prizes!

Click here to join the clique & enter the photo contest!

3. Be a Comedian – Sometimes you just gotta pull a joke out of your back pocket.  If it makes them let down their guard and you get a natural laugh or smile from them, then you did your job.  For engagement sessions, once you have them in a pose that you like, have them look at each other and bust out a funny quick joke and snap away…trust me, it works and the camera has no idea that you were the reason they were laughing 🙂

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4. Always be Ready If candid photos are what you are looking for sometimes the very best photo opportunities will happen right after a “pose” or between poses so always be alert and ready, otherwise many opportunities will be missed.

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5. Show & Tell – Once you are getting the types of photos that you want from your clients, what I have found to be extremely helpful with our clients is to continually tell them how great they are doing and even show them a great photo on the back of your camera so they can actually see the awesome photo.  They usually have no clue how they are actually looking on the camera and once they see how great they look they get more enthusiastic about the photo session and let their guard down even more.

Next time you are on a photo session, make sure to remember these 5 tips for better candid photos.  Not only will it round out your images for your clients nicely but your clients will be head over heels with some of the natural photos that you were able to catch that they didn’t even know you captured!

Do you have any tips or tricks to add?  Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!


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