Aug 8, 2023

Candid Photography For Events - How To

Candids are almost always a crowd favourite for event photography. Here's how!

Hunter Scott
Hunter Scott
Candid Photography For Events - How To

Birthdays, weddings, everything in between. There’s no excuse to not come away from an event with great candid photos!

Candids are almost always a crowd favourite for event photography. You can capture people interacting in the most organic way possible, without the subjects presenting the camera-centric version of themself.

Documenting events is a fun challenge, and in my opinion you, the photographer, should strive to come away with photos where the viewer can easily insert themselves into the scene and imagine being there themselves. 

The camera being an invisible observer of events going on is the best way to achieve this. Here’s how.

How To Take Great Candids

Step one is obvious - don’t pose people, and snap them in genuine situations. There are a few tricks you can use to make this happen. 

One is to be the “camera guy” who always has a camera. 

If you sit still enough in a field, birds will come up to you as if you’re a plant. You become part of the scenery. Always having a camera does the same thing - eventually people stop seeing the camera and just see you!

I also like to shoot with a wide lens, and I set my camera up so that I can very quickly snap away without thinking about settings. This usually looks like using zone focussing, auto ISO, and a lot of the time, flash. 

Another important thing is actually doing stuff! GO! Don’t stay at home, view every outing as an opportunity to hone your craft and develop skills. Plus, your mates will love the photos you get.

Example of how to take candid photography at events

How To Take Aesthetic Candids

Ok, so you can take photos of your friends without them pulling a dorky face, great. Now how do you make them look good?

Part of the candid look comes from a well rounded aesthetic - having a consistent look. For me, that’s 28mm, f/8, on-camera flash in low light situations. I like to shoot wide and close, because to me, that makes it seem like you’re more “there”, whereas if you shoot with a long telephoto lens it can feel a bit like you’re seeing a spy camera photo, which is not particularly flattering. (and also kinda creepy).

It also helps to edit your photos in a cohesive way. I use my Streets Ahead Preset Pack for all my candids. 

How To Take Your Candids To The Next Level

This one might seem obvious, but stick with me. Storytelling.

Candids aren’t just nice because people don’t look like themselves when they’re posed - it’s because a good candid tells a story. It doesn’t have to be a complex story!

You can use candids to highlight the relationship between two people, showing how they interact. One person laughing at another’s joke, or maybe reacting to a dog arriving. You have to think about this as you’re composing: out of context, what will the viewer understand about the people in the photo? Once you start to do this, it’ll quickly become second nature. 

Why People Prefer Candids

Photos are memories. Let that sink in for a moment. When people look at group photos where they got posed, what do they remember? Being posed for a photo! Nobody likes that.

When you get great candids, they remember why they laughed at that joke on their birthday. They remember that lunch they had together.

When you take great candid photos, you are curating a selection of memories for the viewer to look back on and share with their friends.

The value this has over high-polish, posed photos is huge. When you shoot this way, you’ll deliver photos from an event and the next day everyone will have a new profile photo shot by you. That’s a sure sign of success.

Candids In The Street

A great way to learn how to shoot great candids is to get off the sofa and do some street photography!

It teaches you timing, speed, stealth, and technique like nothing else. I can’t recommend it enough for any photographer, from a beginner with a smartphone, to seasoned pros.

Not all street photography is candid, but trust me, once you start shooting like this and you see the results, you won’t want to go back to your studio and posing guides!

If you’d like to learn more, pop your email in the box below, and explore some of the other articles on my website

If you'd like to get better at photography in 2024, read this!