How to ace the candid street photography

A candid street photography means you’re making street portrait without disturbing the scene or the people in action. There are a range of actions in the street you can pick from. The common moments are people talking, running, walking, riding a bike, laughing, thinking, or working with some tools. Every street offers you one or mix of these actions that can be captured in one frame. Let me share my experience with making such unstaged photos.

Well, I prefer to get close to subjects. So close that when we speak we can hear each other. We can talk. We can exchange ideas. We can share our stories. So, my candid moments are not a mile apart from the subject — I’m so close to the subject that i can join them in their activities. I’m part of the story.

If your storytelling is such that you want to cover wider area in the scene, don’t mind stepping away from the action and shoot from a distance.

It may so happen that the person gets disturbed in your presence or stop acting naturally in his or her task — it’s your job to make them comfortable and request them to continue what they’re doing. If asked: why are you making the photo, keep your story handy. I’ll post another blog on how to respond to objections, intentions, or queries regarding your documentary photography in streets and public places. For now, keep in mind, keep your purpose of street photography noble. Honesty will show-up when you approach strangers.

At times, you may ask them to initiate their action. This is, however, a fake candid photography. But the viewer of your photos won’t know that you’ve asked the person to act. Right? Is this ethical to make such fake candid photos? Yes and no! Yes — because they were already in the action and had paused for a moment which you missed. No — because you completely changed the scene and staged the whole activity with a model.

candid street photography
He was very serious when I asked him for a photo.
candid street photography
Then I told him, “ok, I got the serious looking photo, now you can laugh!”. This made him burst into laughter.

Freeze few moments when they start engaging with you or the discussion is over. Why? Because, if you ask them to pose for a portrait, their expressions are not natural at times. When they feel they’re done with you, that’s where the candid expression appears. I was shooting a street photo of this elderly person in the street. He was very serious when I asked him for a photo. Then I told him, “ok, I got the serious looking photo, now you can laugh!”. This made him burst into laughter. This was my moment to shoot the candid street photography.

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