10 tips for candid street photography
Candid street photography is the art of taking a photos on the street without the subject realizing you’re taking the photo. It is an art so read my 10 tips to perfect your candid street photography skills.
Capture the unique moments, candidly. Candid street photos, when executed well, tell a valuable story. Photographing candidly is the best way to capture the emotion and vulnerability in your subjects.
Here are 10 tips to create your own perfect candid street photographs.
How to be more candid with your Street Photography
It’s difficult not to freeze when you become aware that someone is taking your photo. I have found that being subtle when photographing others is the best way to record authentic moments and come away with the best photos.
There are different ways to approach your street photography. Candid street photography will give you street portraits as you shoot strangers going about their day. It can also include urban landscapes, industrial features, architecture or random items you might find on the streets.
Here’s some of of the practical tips I use when shooting candid street photography.
Move slowly and deliberately
When we’re out shooting the streets, avoid sudden movements. Move slowly, don’t give yourself away when you bring your camera quickly to your face.
Make a slow deliberate move to bring your camera into line with your target. Aim your camera wide and pan across other focus points before bringing it to rest on your point of interest. When you are ready to take the photograph, move your camera very subtly to your eye, and click a photo.
Use your LCD screen
It can be less obvious that you’re taking photos if your camera has an LCD screen.
Line up your shot using the camera’s LCD screen instead of a viewfinder. The perception is that by using the LCD screen you will look more like a tourist but in fact, it is less obvious who we are taking a photo of.
Shooting from the hip or taking your photos with your camera at waist-level is another option. It is however, more difficult to frame your shot accurately.
Don’t make eye contact
When shooting candid street photography, don’t make eye contact with your subject. Once eye contact is made, you’ve automatically given away that you’re taking a photo of them and their expression may change.
You can stand close to someone whilst still taking candid photos without them noticing. Just look at your subject through your viewfinder or LCD screen while avoid making eye contact. Get close to your subject, and feign like you’re taking photos of something in the distance behind them.
Blend into the crowd
Go to a busy part of town where people are bustling around going about their business. The benefit of shooting in a crowded or touristy area is that you blend into the crowd. People pay less attention to you because you blend in.
Be like any other tourist. Tuck a map into your back pocket, stop people to ask directions, wear your camera around your neck. Most people will ignore you, and assume you’re just taking touristy shots.
The video camera technique
Walk around slowly with your camera to your eye, whilst taking continuous photos will often like you’re shooting a video.
An idea to expand this is to go to a busy area, and stand in the centre as you slowly take photos in all directions around you. It’s likely that people will just think you are just shooting a panoramic video.
You will see many photographers use the ‘fishing’ technique by scoping out a good background and waiting for the right person to walk past. It requires patience. The more patient you are, the more likely you will catch a fish.
Find an interesting scene, background, or wall to illustrate your subject. Wait patiently for the right person to pass by the scene for the perfect composition. Snap away.
Capture peoples’ hands and feet
When you’re out shooting candid street photos, make sure you add some interest to your captures. Many street photographers just take photos of people, walking towards them.
Instead, try to capture peoples hands. When you’re walking on the streets, look for people sneezing, coughing, hailing a cab, dragging a child along or trying to shield the sun from their eyes. By capturing these hand-gestures, you will end up with more dynamic images.
Another thought is to sit on a park bench and capture people’s shoes as they pass by – people hurrying, people ambling along. High heels, shiny business shoes, grubby running shoes, thongs or scuffs. imagine this as a themed collection!
One of the problems of candid street photography is when working with moving subjects it is hard to capture the subject without having blurry photos. The solution is to use zone-focusing.
The trick is to manually pre-focus your lens to a certain distance ie: 1.5 metres and keep it on manual. Set your ISO relatively high to have a fast shutter speed – at least ISO 1600 and aperture f/8 – f/16 for depth of field.
When you go out and shoot, only take photos of people 1.5 meters away.
Focus on the subject furthest-away from you
A beginner technique is to focus on what is closest, however by focusing on what is furthest away, you will add more depth, layers, and intrigue in your photo.
It adds a degree of variety to your street photography.
Just take the photo
Don’t hesitate. Don’t over-think it. Take the shot.
There are times when I have hesitated to take the photo, and as a result, I’ve missed many good shots. Don’t doubt yourself.
If you take every opportunity of a potentially good scene without hesitation, you may result in the ‘shot of the day’!
10 tips for candid street photography – Pin this to Pinterest now
The best thing about candid street photography is spontaneity that comes from taking the risk and the sense of excitement of the unexpected expression. I love to catch a little humour in my photos, so look for the unique and the unusual when taking candid street photos.
If you’d like to see more of my photography posts:
- 20 Best Photography Tips for Travellers
- As a photographer – Don’t be Average, Be Awesome
- Instagram – the Social Media Obsession
What’s in my camera bag
As a travel blogger with passion for photography, I like my photos to capture the essence of my travels. Surprisingly, the question I am most often asked is ‘what is in your camera bag’?
Choose your camera to suit your purpose. The Sony A6000 is my camera of choice when it comes to photographing the streets.
If you’d like to read more about my camera & lens choices, take a look at my earlier post.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my 10 best tips for candid street photography.