Lifestyle photography tips to help you capture the perfect candid photo

While a polished, posed photograph can impress viewers with its elegant composition, there’s no denying the somewhat indescribable attraction of candid photography. 

When it comes to photographing friends and family, candid photos can capture authentic, special moments that make them more appealing than a staged photo shoot. And while a lot of your success will rely on having your camera ready at the right time, there are some tips you can use to help you capture some incredible candid photos.

I’ve partnered with the experts at Ted’s Cameras to round up lifestyle photography tips to capture perfect candid photos. Take a look at the following tips to learn how to take good candid photos of friends and family.

1. Shoot from the hip 

While your natural instinct may be to shoot photos by holding a camera to your eye, you risk spoiling the moment by trying to find the perfect composition. 

While you can still use the viewfinder to help you find the shot, it will help if you can get used to visualising your framing before you take the shot, making sure that when you raise the camera, you’re ready to press the shutter straight away.

2. Learn to master zone focus

Modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras come with a handy AF (auto-focus) system to focus your images, but it is still worth learning how to zone-focus so you can master capturing candid images. 

Zone focusing requires you to manually focus your lens to a distance that, in conjunction with your current aperture setting, allows a known portion of your image to be in focus. This means that as long as your subject falls within this range, your image will be sharp and in focus so you have one less thing to worry about when you shoot. It makes shooting from the hip from the previous step much simpler to achieve. 

3. Know your settings

It’s really disappointing to see a wonderful candid moment unfolding between your nearest and dearest, and then finding your camera settings are all wrong as you go to capture it because of an incompatible ISO speed or shutter speed.

We recommend getting to know your camera settings to ensure you’re always ready to capture that special moment. You should familiarise yourself with the exposure triangle and have your three key settings set to an appropriate level at all times, so only minor tweaking may be necessary when the right shot comes along. 

Shooting in RAW is a great idea, as it gives you a bit of latitude to correct any minor exposure issues caused by shooting too quickly, while shutter speed or aperture priority is perfectly acceptable for making things simpler without giving up too much control. 

4. Take some test shots

There’s no harm in being prepared. If there’s nothing worth shooting while you’ve got your camera with you, mingling with friends and family, you’ve got the perfect excuse to take some test shots while you wait to capture a good moment. This will help you keep your photographic eye sharp and improve your compositional skills, while being able to check your camera’s settings are right for the situation.

5. Be confident and friendly

Not everyone loves having their photograph taken, which can be an obstacle for a photographer. While it’s natural to feel a little uneasy about photographing people you are close to, as you don’t want to make them uncomfortable and spoil their fun, you can help ease discomfort by being warm, friendly and acting as natural as possible. 

As time passes, they will likely forget that the camera is there and they will feel even more at ease when you show them the flattering family lifestyle images that you have just captured. 

6. Think like a photographer at all times

While a studio portrait photographer always knows that their work will be captured during a planned session, a candid lifestyle photographer must be ready to capture their next masterpiece at any given time.

To help increase your odds of capturing successful candid photos, there are a few steps that you should be taking, including:

  • Always have your camera with you – consider going for something portable, such as a mirrorless camera, so you are not tempted to leave it behind no matter how small an event may seem.
  • Shoot first, think later – With the huge amount of images that a modern memory card can store, you really lose nothing by experimenting and pressing the shutter if you think something might be of interest. It’s more detrimental to second guess yourself and risk the moment passing you by completely. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel in taking candid photos of friends and family. 
  • Surround yourself with your favourite candid camera shots, helping to inspire you to take more great candid photographs in the future.

Check out more candid photography tips on Ted’s blog post.

At Ted’s Cameras, you can find a wide range of products to suit your photography style. Find your local Ted’s Cameras store or take advantage of the free shipping on online orders over $100. It’s a great time to get yourself out with some new equipment!


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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