Candid Photography Tips

Candid means frank, honest, open, truthful and sincere – how does that work with a camera?

Candid photography means you just shoot what you see – no rearranging the composition or using models – the photographer is “there” with the subject or scene and records it faithfully.

Usually a candid photo also means a standard lens like a 40mm or 50mm on an SLR – the human eye is 40mm so photographic genuises like Cartier-Bresson used a 40mm lens on his Leica exclusively, so as to capture the ‘moment’, which is really what candid is all about.

The challenge in a candid photo most of the time, is to be there in the scene without influencing the scene.

This means be as unobtrusive as possible and ideally have the ability to disappear into the background.

Of course if you’re wearing your big Canon with the nine inch tele-zoom, plus camera bag, plus water bottle, bum bag, staring maniacally at the little screen on the back etc. etc. you’re not going to disappear very far!

Cartier-Bresson, who is the king of candid, used to wrap his camera in newspaper or brown paper on occasions, hold it down at his side while he surveyed the scene he wanted to shoot, only bringing it up for the shot and then dropping it out of view again.

I met one of his assistants once who described the master visiting the same street corner in Paris for three days, and standing there for an hour or so to pick up the rhythm of the scene, then finally taking one shot on the third day and going home.

See the Wikipedia entry here on Cartier-Bresson and you can see his portfolio at Magnum.

Make sure you follow the Magnum link because you’ll see some of the most powerful imagery ever captured on film – although many of the scenes were quite ordinary in themselves.

You’ll notice that he worked in black-and-white; this was in deference to the speed of B&W film versus the color film of the time – also for what he was shooting B&W added to the dramatic or graphic qualities he was seeking to depict.

Maybe this is all more than you want to know about candid photography but it’s free so don’t whine.

How Do You Shoot Candid Photos?

With digitals this is much easier, because digital cameras can give you the speed and sharpness of B&W and in glorious color.

If you want to take Cartier-Bresson’s lead, get yourself one of the better small digitals. This is good advice in any case because the first step before taking great photos is taking good photos and this means having your attention on the subject not on all the knobs and dials on your big black SLR.

Attitude plays a large part here. You’re trying to capture an image or a moment that defines something about the subject. Candid shots are rarely pretty, so you don’t go about getting candid shots by trailing along from one “photogenic” scene to the next – photogenic here defined as a scene that says ‘I am pretty – so shoot me!’

Candid means you have to open your eyeballs and LOOK at what is around you – you find the picture the picture doesn’t find you.

Getting too Zen here?You’re seeking a moment where the geometric or compositional elements come together or where the human elements communicate something unique about themselves. Take another look at Cartier-Bresson’s portfolio and that should give you a better idea.

Here are a few of my own attempts:

candid-photography-family-batman candid-photography-jumping-boy


candid-photography-steps candid-photography-mother

Click here for more tips on Candid Photos

Candid Photography Tips p.2

For a viewer, candid can be an educated taste.

In an age with TV, the internet, when everything is being photographed with cell phones, most people are saturated with images and don’t see the finer qualities, so don’t expect your audience to see or feel what you saw and felt.

A photo should communicate something more than simply “I was there” but to do that you have to see more than is sometimes obvious.

The point here is that this is one type of photography where you won’t get many oohs and aahs, but occasionally you may be very pleased to discover your photo communicated exactly what you hoped it would.

Being In The Scene Versus Disappearing Into The Background

You can go at this two ways:

Unobtrusive – this means you sneak up on the scene, or more accurately you saunter up to it, try to be un-noticeable, spot what you think will make a good shot and get into position without knocking over anything or treading on someone’s toes.

Some candid shots can be taken with tele-zoom lenses where you sit back away from the subject, focus in and wait for the right moment. If you have multiple exposure options you can shoot three or four frames at a time.

Of course the tough part of candid is that you often only get one bite at the apple before your presence is noticed or the scene collapses. So cheat by shooting several frames if you can.

Obtrusive – this can work too. A photo where the subject is looking out of the scene directly at the viewer can be very arresting. This means having the subject noticing and looking right into the camera.

Some Candid Photos

candid-photography-sepia-girl candid-photography-color-girl


The trick here is speed.

If you have to stand and focus and frame for a couple of minutes you lose any spontaneity there might be in the scene.

Even in the first moments when the subject sees you there is a brief window when the expression on the face is interested, surprised, delighted, affronted – but that window closes very quickly and you get the stolid, barely patient expression of someone waiting for you to find the shutter button.

Candid can be the most rewarding form of photography. The result is rarely “pretty” but it can be engrossing, informing, arresting and startling – and most of all it enhances one’s appreciation of the world around us, both from the viewpoint of the photographer and the viewer.

If you really want to learn how to take great photos, candid or otherwise, and get good at this stuff we highly recommend Expert Rating Photography Course as resource.

It covers everything you need to know from beginner to pro in an interactive format you can study or refer to at your own pace and at your level of experience.

Click Here to See Beginner Digital Photography for Yourself

How to Choose Photo Editing Software

As we have mentioned on many of the pages of this site, photo editing software can be used to correct or enhance many of your “questionable” shots.

In recommending any specific photo editing software we looked for the following characteristics:

  • Supported Image File Formats. The photo editing software had to support the most common camera file formats as a minimum but the ability to handle some of the more unusual ones was a bonus.
  • Ease of Use. Not only easy to install but easy to learn. As with any technical field there is no getting around learning new terminology and image editing software is no exception. We were looking for software that was as intuitive as possible for the new user but also not so simple that it excluded a powerful feature set.
  • Stability. Many people think of “stable” as a feature of the software showing an ability to run on a wide range of computers. That is one way of looking at it and it is one aspect of the photo editing software we took into consideration. However we extended the definition of stable to also include whether or not the software has been around for a long time and whether it WILL be around for a lot longer.
  • Editing. Any photo editing software we chose must have a good feature set to allow you to improve on any shots you have taken (within reason!) and allow you to manipulate your images in a wide variety of ways.
  • Organization. This one is VITAL. If you are going to start following our advice a take LOTS of shots then pretty soon you are going to have a sea of photos on your computer. Unless you get organized from the beginning very soon you will have no idea what you have and where it is! Any good photo editing software must have a good module within it to allow you to conveniently and logically organize your photos.
  • Sharing your Photos. We looked for image editing software that easily (preferably wizard driven) allowed you to adjust the file size, resolution or image size of your photos for the particular sharing method you use. Whether you are going to send them to friends by email, transfer over mobile devices or post to online galleries etc.
  • Output. In addition to the controls offered under the label of sharing we were also looking for software that allowed you good control over how you saved your images as well as intuitive controls for home printing. This is quite an important point especially given the wide variation that can occur between what you see on a computer screen and what you get when you use a printer.
  • Help, Tutorials and Support. We were looking here for good documentation of the program, online support from the developer including available tutorials as well as active user forums for tips and advice from other users.

We narrowed it down to two photo editing software packages that we feel confident in recommending.

They are most suited to the person starting out in photography because of their ease of use but are fully featured so that as you grow as a photographer they will continue to serve your needs.

Just remember, the camera is a tool, it does not take photos…you do.  Similarly, photo editing software is also only a tool.

The two photo editing software programs we have chosen offer a slightly different feature set to suit your particular needs.

At number one we have Adobe Photoshop Elements. Excellent image editing, organization and control offering an upgrade path to Adobe Photoshop should you decide to do that.

At number two Corel Paint Shop Pro. Similarly good image editing and organisation with the added advantage of powerful graphics features.

Click Here for our Image Editing Software Reviews

Photo Editing Software Reviews

Adobe Photoshop Elements

adobe-photoshop-elements-9-boxThis is the little brother of Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop holds such a dominant place in the pro market for photo editing and has held that position for such a long time that it has now entered the language as a verb. “That picture has been photoshopped!”

We think directing the beginner photographer to Adobe Photoshop as a viable choice for image editing software is a bit of an overkill!

However Adobe offer a simplified version of Photoshop called Photoshop Elements and it is currently at version 9. Photoshop Elements 9 offers the photographer just about any feature you are likely to need or use and to be honest, if you do need more then you need to take better photos or move up to Photoshop!

It is easily the most advanced of the software we recommend and has the additional advantage of placing you on the upgrade runway to the full version of Photoshop should you decide in the future to approach your photography at a professional level.

It is easy to move around in and use, has wizard based guided editing systems for the beginner and gives you access to Adobe Express for online storage. There are lots of great auto cleaning, blemish removal and scene merging functions as well.

This new version of Photoshop Elements has been totally re-worked along with it’s video editing equivalent, Premiere Elements 9 to seamlessly work together.

Premier Elements 9 is their consumer video editing software and would definitely come in handy if you foresee incorporating images into some video or creating video slide shows.

The two are usually offered at a steep discount when bundled together.

You can read a full review here of Adobe Premiere Elements.

Click Here to See Adobe Photoshop Elements

Corel Paint Shop Pro

corel-paintshop-photo-pro-X3-box At a slightly lower price point Corel Paint Shop Pro has long been an alternative to the Adobe product range especially for those who place no importance on bragging rights afforded by owning the latest edition of Photoshop!

Paint Shop Pro X3 pretty well matches Photoshop Elements 9 feature for feature and extends it functionality over into the area of graphic design as well.

Although it is no Photoshop it does offer greater flexibility to the amateur photographer who wants to apply more artistic effects to images.

It has has a very comprehensive help system and given the wider range of graphic features and the image editing features there is a lot to learn before you can fully utilize its full power.

Corel also usually offer a discounted package for Paint Shop Pro when combined with their video editing software Corel VideoStudio Pro. You can see a review here of VideoStudio Pro.

Click Here to See Corel Paint Shop Pro

Still Life Photography Tips

Still Life photography is as simple or as tricky as you want to make it. In still life photography you can manipulate background, lighting, angle, and composition so you can literally ‘draw’ what you like.

According to some views on this subject if you create a scene and shoot it that’s Still Life, but if you discover a scene and shoot it that’s a snapshot.

I don’t really get the distinction as far as a Still Life scene goes. Here are some examples of a painter’s still life:

Take a look at the Old Violin by William Harnett 1886 – tell me that doesn’t look photographic and carefully composed right down to the envelope. But it could just as easily be a snapshot the painter took with his eyeballs and got down on his canvas.

Still Life Violin

How about the, Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber by Juan Sánchez Cotán (1602)?

Is it a ‘snapshot’ or a real Still Life? Did the artist arrange those elements, wait for the right lighting to cast that neat compositional shadow or just fudge it?

Still Life Fruit

Or did he walk past the scene on the way out the door and decide to set up his easel and capture it?

Who really cares?

The main thing is does it do anything for you?

Does it communicate to you in any way?

What does it communicate?

How about the Van Gogh vase of flowers?

Arranged or snapped?


Okay, that’s enough theory. Let’s take some shots!

Still Life Photography Tips continued…

Still Life Photography Tips P.2

There are several ways to shoot a still life. If you have lights, backdrops, plate cameras that have adjustable settings you wouldn’t be reading this anyway, so let’s cut to the chase.Still Life shots are good to practice your ‘eye for photo composition’, your color sense, and lens techniques because usually the subject isn’t going anywhere or being a distraction.

Still Life can also be satisfying – maybe your friends will yawn but hey they’re probably yawning anyway.

Try this as an experiment:

  • Find somewhere in your home that has good lighting and an interesting or a neutral background, like a tabletop near a window.
  • Empty out your pockets into a heap on the table.
  • Don’t rearrange anything. You’ve probably got coins, keys, a cellphone perhaps, maybe some notes, an old movie ticket and a receipt for a coffee or whatever.
  • Pick up your camera and walk around your still life until you like what you see in the viewfinder and shoot a few frames.
  • Try it again from different heights and different angles.
  • Download your shots and pick out the three best.
  • Now critique them. Why do you like them? What do they communicate about you? Messy pockets or do they represent a interesting window into your life?

Now save those and leave your heap on the table (if you can) for a couple of hours. Now the light should be different. Do the same exercise. Shoot another bunch of shots and pick three. Compare them to the first three. Decide which ones you like best now.

Maybe in the first shots the lighting was soft and the shadows not noticeable. But in the later shots the shadows are harder, and now maybe the geometry of the composition has changed dramatically. Now you have something that looks like the cover of an espionage thriller. You decide what the image communicates now and if you want it to communicate that.

Wait a few more hours and by now there’s probably no sunlight so the shots are going to be taken using fluorescent lighting or incandescent lighting. Maybe now you have no shot at all.

In any case the amount of light falling on your scene is probably too little even for your neat digital camera, so now you need to haul out that tripod. (Ah that’s why I bought it!) Yes, tripods are for when camera movement is going to spoil the shot.

Unless you have trained as a sniper for ten years, below about 1/60 your body movement or the pressure of your finger on the shutter button is going to cause ‘movement’ in your picture.

Put the camera on the tripod and figure out the delayed shutter function on your camera. It will have one. Most give you 15-30 seconds before the image is captured.

Frame the shot, trip the shutter, and hope you don’t get an earth tremor at the critical moment. If you’re serious about getting decent shots you should know how to use the “bracket” function.

That means the camera will take a series of shots exposing for more light and less light than the basic exposure. Purists dig this kind of thing but between you and me, you can fix a host of exposure problems in photo editing software – what you can’t fix in image editing software is camera or subject movement. You shouldn’t have any subject movement unless you keep small animals in your pockets and because – hey it’s a STILL Life.

Shoot a few shots. Chances are the results suck because direct overhead light is pretty boring. Your Still Life now looks like a dead life.

You probably have images that look boringly like you unloaded your pockets on a table. All the feel and mood is gone.

No problem!

Now let’s start creating with light.

Still Life Images continued…

Still Life Photography Tips P.3

Ok! Now lets start creating with light.

Go steal someone’s desk lamp and shine it onto the scene. Better? Worse? Go steal another.

Now you are into the dynamics of lighting. Here are the basics of lighting something.

You have a main Light and a Fill light. The main light is usually the brightest. You use it to light the scene. Being one light it is going to light one side of the scene.

Turn off the overheads and set this lamp a little off to the right of your camera. Observe the result. Hmm, don’t like those shadows now on the left? Now you turn on the other lamp and put it on the left of the camera to fill in the shadows with its light.

If both lamps are the same wattage move the fill back until it is just reducing the shadows without creating nasty shadows of its own. Couldn’t steal a second lamp?

No problem.

Go get some aluminum foil. Find something big and flat that no one is going to miss for a while like the Monopoly board or cut up a packing box and tape the foil to it.

Now you have a reflector that will act as a second fill light. You can buy these at photography Shops or you can just carry foil with you. Set up your reflector so it ‘fills’ the shadows.

Take a few shots and have a look at the Still life now. You can add more lights if you have them but usually it’s a waste of time and electricity and you’ll end up tearing your hair out.

The more lights you use the more shadows you’ll get and the more you’ll have to fool around trying to highlight or fill different parts of your Still Life. When you get really frustrated just go back to two lights until you get those right.

By now you’ve probably exhausted all the possibilities of lighting and angle. If you’ve been very good and haven’t cheated, your heap is still the same arrangement as when you started.

Now you can play about with adjusting the composition. See our photo composition page for a simple rule for composing a photo. Now try this rule with your Still Life. You have some main elements and some sub elements. The coins are sub elements. The cell phone may be a main element. What do you want your viewer to notice? Use composition to guide the viewer’s eye on a tour of your Still Life.

Shoot lots of shots. Play around and each time ask yourself: What does this image communicate?

Now you’re ready to get a bit adventurous. You can take a prowl around the house and spot pleasing compositions, or go the fruit market and buy some vegetables – large and small, different colors.

Or just take a walk around the neighborhood at different times of the day and look for some still lifes. Here’s one from my neighborhood.

Still Life Photography Lotus

If you really want to learn how to take great photos, still life or otherwise, and get good at this stuff we highly recommend Beginner Digital Photography as a resource.

It covers everything you need to know from beginner to pro in an interactive format you can study or refer to at your own pace and at your level of experience.

Click Here to See Beginner Digital Photography for Yourself

Learn Digital Photography

Here at My Photography Tips we are big fans of approaching things on a gradient – especially new interests like learning digital photography!

There is ample opportunity for you to go hog wild on new digital cameras, image editing software and expensive tickets to the Amazon rain forests to explore your new passion in life!

However we tend to recommend a more measured approach. The photography tips, tricks and techniques on this site will certainly get you going in the right direction but in all honesty it is a limited resource.

Regardless of the digital camera you have you should be able to get good shots with that camera… provided you know how.

Buying a better camera will not make up for a lack of basic photographic knowledge or technique so we recommend this course to get those basics established from the start:

The program we recommend is Beginner Digital Photography and yes, we are aware it seems to be a bit of a cheesy name!

Here’s What You Get:

“This beginner digital photography course is perfect for the absolute beginner looking to take better photographs of their friends and families, while on holiday or starting a new hobby in photography.

This beginner digital photography course is ideal for anybody looking to truly learn the FUNDAMENTALS OF PHOTOGRAPHY.

Leaving this beginner digital photography course, students will be able to operate their camera in full manual or aperture priority.

This beginner digital photography course covers the ability to freeze motion or create long exposure photographs such as slowing water.

In addition the digital beginner photography course adds the ability for students to manipulate their depth of field (blurry background) so they are able to use the right camera settings for portrait, landscape and architecture amongst other conditions.

Finally the beginner digital photography student will understand what lenses to use for different situations, take crystal clear indoor and low light photographs.

Our beginner digital photography course is the most hands-on photography course in Udemy and we provide a series of practical creative and technical examples so that you feel comfortable and confident with your camera.”

Thoughts on the Product:

This package covers a lot of ground on the topic of digital photography. All of the advice is very step-by-step and detailed, but doesn’t include unnecessary filler or technobabble.

Even for someone who has never used a digital camera before, the information is clear and concise enough to take that person from buying a camera to taking their first shots and being proud of their work.

The product can be downloaded instantly upon purchase, so you don’t have to wait for a bunch of books and videos to come in the mail.

Where to Learn More?

Click Here to Check Beginner Digital Photography for Yourself

Portrait Photography Fundamental Principles

Shooting portrait photographs can be hugely gratifying. It’s an opportunity to present the best aspect of somebody, and create a picture which communicates something exceptional.

The 1st guideline of very good portrait photography is to examine your subject.

This does sound simplistic but take a browse through every one of the images you have of your friends and relations to see if there isn’t a kind of similarity to them all. Cut off head and shoulder shots, uneasy posing, goofy expressions, empty staring, frozen smiles…?

Everybody has some individual feature that should certainly be photographed. It doesn’t need to be perfect skin, a renovated nose, pouting lips, beautiful eyes. Nonetheless it should really be a unique quality which communicates the person’s uniqueness.

Sound challenging? It isn’t if you adhere to some fundamental tips.

Compose Vertically.

Shift the camera to one side. A portrait image ordinarily features the head and torso and sometimes may include the hands. These are preferable in a vertical format. Horizontal framing leaves you with wide open spaces each side of the person which could take away from the sense of the shot.

Attempt to Influence Precisely How your Subject is Clothed.

If this is to be an almost formal portrait photo you could possibly propose what outfits are to be worn. Solid, dark or light colorings work most effectively. Patterns, checks, stripes and swirls bring in confusion to the eye of the viewer. Bold colors can overpower the skin tones. A vee or scoop neck is preferable to a round neck. For older women or men, conceal the shoulders, for young women leave them exposed.

Try to use the available light effectively.

Locate the individual where the light is gentle and emerging mostly from one direction. This can supply a moody sense and usually gives the eyes more attention. You may use a reflector on the shadowed side to bounce the light should the contrast between shadow and highlight is too harsh. A basic reflector can be produced by overlaying a piece of cardboard with lightweight aluminum foil.

You Should Not Use Direct Camera Flash.

Flash light is lighting in it’s most dull incarnation. Very rarely it may elevate a shot into dazzling life, but usually the use of available lighting is more desirable. Flash has a tendency to give you a bland look and the occurrence of the flash going off gets rid of any intimate ambiance you may have built.

Try a Telephoto Lens. 105-135mm is normally best. (Just do not use a wide angle.)

Let Your Subject be Seated.

This helps put them at ease by having somewhere to “be” and helps you in being able to guide them more easily. Give your subject guidance.

Decide on Your Subject’s “best side”.

People in actual fact do have one. Get one shoulder turned toward the camera so one side is favored a touch. Check out the pose other ways and try to discover which way is the better.

In a portrait photograph, you are addressing modest movements and shifts of situation and perspective. Attempt to shoot a little above the subject to make the eyes open up more. Perhaps look into bringing down the shoulder closest to the camera, get the head straight or at an interesting angle. Take the chin down a little.

Some people look better when they smile but some do not. You may get more absorbing expressions and subtleties without a smile. Tell the individual to think about anything they like doing. This will emphasize the eyes and call attention to the mouth lines.

If the hands are inside the picture, take a good look at them. Hands can now and again look uncomfortable or perhaps ugly. A casually closed fist is typically fairly neutral. Position the hands in the lap or resting on a knee and verify how it seems. Crop them off later if they don’t work.

When you’re photographing candid portraits most of the same steps are recommended though in these particular shots you’ll want to remember to move around to get the perfect angles.

Click here for more detailed digital photography techniques and wedding photography techniques.

Video Marketing Tips

Any kind of authority that advises you on the subject of the effective use of video for online marketing would need to deliver straightforward instructional references for that on-line video marketing. Using video projects for marketing is not going to help you unless you utilize it appropriately or if it drives away customers instead of attracting them.

These kinds of resources ought to encompass not simply the way to benefit from video in your online marketing efforts but tips on making the best video for your target audience. This preferably should comprise of at least some material on how to pick out the best video editing software for your situation in addition to the principles of equipment and shooting techniques.

The very first thing you must take into account when it comes to online video marketing is your market and the ideal technique to acquire their attention. If you select a excessive video, customers may very well be turned off rather than drawn to your message. On the other hand, for anybody who is promoting music to teenagers, your video should be cheerful and full of energy.

You might also want to give thought to precisely how a video will display on your website or elsewhere. Having a video open up in a new window or in a particular video player may irritate any visitors in the same way that videos which start automatically could have a similar impact. At the same time, it might be a good idea to include some controls to quickly flip the video to pause or to turn down the sound, in the event they watch the video at school! Any good advice for online video marketing will handle these points.

Provided materials for online video marketing would need to detail some of the most appropriate ways of using video on your website. This may be as an entrance to the online site before the customer enters your homepage, or it might be found to the side of the website. By doing this it is easy for the user to navigate around the video if they wish to get right to additional material on your website.

Any materials provided with regards to online video marketing should be able to show you quickly the way in which this can take place. You’ll be able to discuss your offerings or provide arguments as to why they ought to consider your products.

It’s not at all uncommon for organizations to set up their own web 2. accounts, which includes Facebook or YouTube. It’s a great idea to upload your video to a number of sites so as to access the maximum quantity of prospects that can be found there.

It happens to be crucial today not to undervalue the implementation video for your internet site included in your present marketing initiatives, so be sure you understand all the points involved and do not disregard this highly effective marketing technique.