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Candid Point-and-Shoot Tips

July 9, 2008 - Dave Hecei
1. Zoom in close. Eliminate as much dead space as possible making the subject fill the frame.

2. Shoot groups – people interacting. A single person is a portrait while a group doing something is more candid.

3. Take your camera everywhere. You bought a point-and-shoot because it was small and light so why not take it with you everywhere you go. How many times have you said or someone said to you, wished I had my camera with me.

4. Don’t use flash. Flash photography is a dead giveaway that you are taking pictures. If you want to go about snapping photos to get candids then turn off the flash. When you turn off the flash, also set the white balance to compensate for the color of indoor lighting, to get rid of the orange of light bulbs or green of fluorescents.

5. Photograph them doing something. Candids supposed to be candid, so make sure that the people you are shooting are doing something. Unless you are shooting professional actors who might be able to pose and still look candid, the average Joe usually looks stiff if posed. Catch them doing something looks much more natural.

6. Shoot without looking or at different angles. If you are lucky to have a camera with a moveable display, some tilt or even swivel out, then try to shoot from different angles like overhead or down low. These different perspectives can give your photos that extra zing. If your camera doesn’t have this ability just try shooting without looking in the viewfinder or display. This takes a some practice, but just have the zoom a little wider and shoot in their general direction, you can always crop it later.

7. Frame the shot – use people or trees to give some foreground interest. This is one of the major compositional rules in photography. Framing the subject with something in the foreground leads your eyes to the subject. Just make sure that the camera is focused on the subject.

8. Shoot a candid shot while the pro is setting up their shot. If you are shooting at a wedding try to get some shots of the wedding party while the pro is setting them up for the shot. These can be fun candids of the group or couple who have their ‘guard’ down before the formal pose.

9. Prefocus to shoot faster. Pushing the shutter halfway down on most cameras will set focus and exposure. Once this is locked just push it the rest of the way to take the shot. This allows you to get the shot at the right moment without that annoying pause that some digital cameras have. Just make sure the subject doesn’t move too close or too far out of the focused zone.

10. Just shoot. A 2 GB card can hold hundreds of photos. Experiment - shoot different angles or shoot both vertical and horizontal shots. Memory cards are cheap and you don’t have to waste money processing the bad ones, just delete them later.

11. Get a higher end P&S camera. Most all manufacturers have both low-end and high-end cameras. Buy the one that has the features you need with the price you can afford and buy the next model up. Remember, you won’t be buying film any more, so take that money you are saving (30 rolls of film is about 100 bucks) and get a better model. Remember that the lens is the crucial part of taking great pictures so getting one with a better lens is worth it. As an example, lower-end Panasonic models have Lumix lenses, while the higher-end models have Leica lenses (one of the best German lens makers around).

12. Blend in. If you want to shoot great candids you need to blend into the background. If your camera makes a shutter noise when it takes a picture, turn that feature off. There is usually a setting somewhere in the menus for this, just check your user manual.


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