Candid and Street Portraits – Photo Review

While everyone knows what candid photos are, and most of us have been subjected to them in one way or another, few people fully understand the exact nature of this diverse genre and even fewer are truly competent at taking candid photos. .

The essence of candid shots is their unposed nature. It has nothing to do with whether the subject knows, or even consents, to being photographed.

Candid photography is at the heart of snapshots, photojournalism, and street photography. It can be the most fruitful approach for photographing children, parties, and family or community events.

Candid photography is all about capturing candid moments. In this case, using a shallow f/4 aperture with a shutter speed of 1/2000 second made the subject stand out against the water splashing the fountain behind her.

Above all, candid shots should capture a sense of spontaneity, recording a “defining moment” in time. To achieve this, the photographer must master the art of making people feel so comfortable in the presence of a camera that they forget it’s there. It is essential to ‘blend in’ with the environment, be it domestic, official or in a public space.

Eye contact is a great way to interact with the viewer and should be attempted when taking close-up portraits.


Keeping it simple, small and light is the best advice when choosing equipment. A single camera with a standard range lens (24-105mm in 35mm format) should provide adequate reach to capture individual subjects from small groups, regardless of the situation.

Use available light as the flash alerts subjects to the camera and can make them self-aware or hostile. Forget tripods; In addition to being in the way, they draw attention to the camera.

The flash would have distracted the subject and also produced an uneven distribution of light due to the inverse square law. Shots like this are only possible with ambient lighting.

Work within the capabilities of your team. Almost all of the latest cameras allow you to set limits to the range covered by the auto ISO feature to define the lowest and highest ISO settings for a particular shot. This is a reliable way to minimize image noise.

In Auto ISO mode, the camera’s processor always sets the slowest shutter speed setting it “thinks” it can handle when hand-holding the camera. However, this can increase ISO sensitivity to unacceptable levels by setting a shutter speed faster than you need, especially if the camera and/or lens has built-in stabilization.

We suggest that you restrict the ISO range to 6400 or less, depending on the nature of your camera. If your camera is over three years old and uses a cropped sensor, you may need to rescale the sensitivity to ISO 3200 or even lower. Shoot RAW+JPEG pairs for the best chance of getting editable images.

Shooting with long lenses and wide aperture settings can produce some interesting results. This portrait was shot with an extended zoom range compact camera using a 500mm equivalent focal length at f/4 with ISO 6400 sensitivity. This combination blurred foreground and background detail to create interesting selective focus.

Built-in stabilization in the camera body and/or in the lens gives you more possibilities for shooting in poor and variable lighting. The latest cameras can integrate camera and lens IS systems to provide at least five stops of camera shake correction, and 7.5 stops is not inconceivable.

Practice your shooting technique and learn the slowest shutter speeds you can tolerate in different conditions. Most cameras allow you to customize the sensitivity and shutter speed values ​​to match what you can handle with the lens you’re using, taking into account the available stabilization.

shooting tips

The best results are achieved by photographers who are part of the scene; close to the action but without drawing attention to themselves. Don’t try to hide; it just draws attention and makes people suspicious of your intentions. If you keep thinking that people don’t notice you, you are more likely to behave in a way that keeps you ‘under the radar’.

Inspect the scene thoroughly before you start shooting. Look for useful vantage points, move around, and have your camera ready to record the instant a “decisive moment” arises.

Success comes from practice and the confidence you develop as a result.

Public demonstrations are a great place to practice street photography. You don’t need long lenses when photographing subjects in the crowd.

It is easier to take photos in crowded places where there is a lot of action. Not only is your choice of topics wider, but you’re also less likely to stand out from the crowd. Trust your instincts. If it feels good to take pictures, it probably is; don’t shoot when you feel bad or dangerous.

In potentially sticky situations, it can help to have a friend with you who can provide backup support. You can also try shooting from the hip, either by guessing how to frame the shot and using a wide-angle lens with plans to crop the frame later to achieve the result you want, or by using the LCD monitor to frame the scene. High resolution cameras (20+ megapixels) are needed in situations that require extensive cropping.

Find a place with a useful background or frame for your pictures, and then wait for the special moments to happen. This tried and tested strategy can often be the best way to get attractive lighting and shooting angles.

Pictures like this are possible if you pick the right spot, have the right lens, and are prepared to wait. Taken with an 85mm equivalent lens and an ISO setting of 250 plus a fast shutter speed of 1/100th of a second.

Don’t be afraid to ask people if you can photograph them. However, if your subject is an artist of any kind and you want to photograph him with his work, don’t be surprised if he refuses. It’s perfectly legitimate for them to want to protect their original concepts from being reproduced by others, and you should respect that.

Don’t be afraid to ask people if you can photograph them. This pair of buskers in Tokyo really asked for this photo!

Street performers and buskers are logical targets for your camera. Since they want attention, they are used to being photographed and often “perform” for your camera. Be generous with what you throw in their hats.

Street performers can make wonderful subjects for your camera.

Take a lot of pictures. Although you might think that famous photographers took just one photo to capture ‘the decisive moment’, in fact, most of them took many frames and chose the one they would print next. Put your camera away as soon as you detect signs of hostility. Use your common sense and move on. If your approach is denied or antagonized, don’t shoot! No photograph is worth a nasty discussion.

rules and regulations
Australia has no right to privacy legislation that protects a person’s image as such, although the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988 provides some protection against the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. State laws may also provide some privacy protection. However, in general, these laws apply to personal information; no photographs.

In most places, you can take photos of people, buildings, or public places without asking permission. This includes photos containing people you don’t know, as long as they were taken in a public place and the photos are for your own use. Situations where someone would “reasonably expect to be granted privacy” are off limits if the subject hasn’t given her permission.

All photographs to be used for advertising or placement with a photo agency MUST be accompanied by a signed model release giving you permission to sell the image. Image libraries also require model releases for any shot that contains recognizable people, even when it’s from side or rear views. A sample photographer’s release form can be downloaded from the Arts Law Center of Australia website.

Most states prohibit any action that could be construed as spying on or meddling with another person. Stalking is also prohibited, and photography that could be construed as child pornography may result in criminal charges.

When it comes to taking photographs on private land or sports fields, theaters, museums or similar public spaces, authorization may be required. Non-commercial photography is generally allowed, but permission is required if the shots are to be sold.

Federal government legislation makes it illegal to photograph defense installations and military bases. Your camera can be confiscated and you risk arrest if you try to do so. Other government properties, such as ports, rail yards, electrical facilities, and similar establishments, are also off limits.

As far as privacy is concerned, situations that fall under the definition of ‘own use’ include photographs that will be displayed in exhibitions, published in magazines and online ‘blogs’ and entered into competitions, as long as no payment is made. for the use of photographs. Please note that some contest and exhibition organizers place restrictions on the types of images they accept and many require model releases for images containing recognizable individuals.

The Australian Copyright Council publishes two information sheets (G0011 and G035) covering photographers’ copyrights, as well as a general guide, G11 Photographers and copyright. Both are available as free downloads from the Council’s website.

See more tips for taking street photos

View the profile of award-winning press gallery photographer Alex Ellinghausen

extract from Portrait Pocket Guide, by photo review technology editor Margaret Brown.

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