kids candis photo with Kate white brick wall with red hearts Valentine's Day Backdrop for Photography designed by Jerry_Sina

What is Candid Photo Meaning | How to Shoot Great Ones?

July 28, 2022

If you are a photographer or a photography enthusiast, you must have seen photos of people taken without their knowledge or permission. These types of photos are called candid photos, one of the most popular genres in photography.

Do you know the basic tips for candid photography and how they are shot? In this article, we will discuss all about candid photography, its tips, and how to capture them.

What Is Candid Photo Meaning?

A candid photo is a photograph that captures a person or scene without the subject's knowledge. There is no posed expression or artificial setting—the subject is caught in the act of living.

Below are some features for candid photos:

  • Golden images that are not easily forgotten;
  • Spontaneous shots to show life as it really is;
  • No prior preparation and posed appearance;
  • Capture little moments with heartwarming and untold happiness;
  • Document what is happening right now without distracting the subject.

This makes candid photography have a more natural and realistic feel to it because you are not staging anything.

Best Camera for Candid Photography

When choosing a camera for candid photography, there are several factors to consider.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

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DSLRs or Mirrorless Digital Cameras

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras offer several advantages over film cameras, making them more suitable for candid photography. One of the main advantages is seeing the image immediately after it is taken. This allows the photographer to adjust settings and take multiple shots quickly, which is essential for capturing candid moments. With a film camera, you would have to wait for the film to be developed before seeing the images.

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras also can shoot high-resolution and shoot videos. This is only sometimes possible with film cameras, which can be a limitation for candid photographers.

High ISO

A higher ISO setting will allow the camera to capture more light, which can be useful in low-light conditions. However, increasing the ISO also increases the amount of noise in the image. Candid photography often takes place in various lighting conditions, and choosing a camera that can handle high ISOs well is important. This allows you to shoot in low light without a flash, which can be disruptive and change the scene's mood.

Shutter Speed

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED

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Fast shutter speed allows you to freeze fast-moving subjects. This is especially important in candid photography, where you want to capture spontaneous and natural moments without being noticed. Cameras with fast shutter speeds are typically more expensive than those with slower shutter speeds, but they are worth the investment for those who specialize in candid photography.


A good lens will allow the photographer to capture sharp and detailed images with a shallow depth of field, which is ideal for candid photography. The right lens lets the photographer get close to the subject without worrying about background distractions.

You can purchase some good lenses for your candid photography: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM  and Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED.

Candid Camera Recommendations

1. Canon EOS M6 Mark II

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

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The Canon EOS M6 Mark II is a mirrorless camera ideal for candid photography and photojournalism. It features a 32.5-megapixel APS-C sensor, Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, and up to 14 fps continuous shooting. It also has built-in wifi and Bluetooth, making it easy to share photos on social media.


  • Sensor size: APS-C CMOS
  • Effective still resolution: 32.5MP
  • Viewfinder: No
  • Weight: 398g (body only, with battery and SD card)
  • Dimensions: 119.6 x 70.0 x 49.2 mm

2. Sony RX100 VII

 Sony RX100 VII

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The Sony RX100 VII is a premium compact camera featuring a 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor. It is designed for advanced photographers and videographers looking for a high-performance camera that is still portable and easy to carry. The 1.0-type stacked CMOS sensor allows for outstanding image quality, high-speed performance, and advanced autofocus capabilities.


  • Sensor:1-in Exmor RS CMOS
  • Effective still resolution: 20.1 MP
  • Viewfinder: Pop-up EVF, 2.36m dots
  • Weight: 302g (with battery and SD card)
  • Dimensions: 101.6 x 58.1 x 42.8 mm

3. Leica M11

Leica M11

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The Leica M11 is a rangefinder camera known for its exceptional image quality. Professional photographers often use it. Its compact size and manual controls make it a favorite among photojournalists who need to work quickly in fast-paced environments.


  • Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
  • Effective still resolution: 18MP
  • Viewfinder: Optical (rangefinder)
  • Weight: 530g (including battery)
  • Dimensions: 139 x 38.5 x 80mm

4. Nikon Z FC

 Nikon Z FC

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The Nikon Z DX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body is designed for superior image quality, featuring a 20.9 MP DX CMOS sensor. The camera is also ideal for vloggers, with features such as 4K UHD video, streaming, and web conferencing compatibility. With its heritage design, the camera boasts classic tactile controls for shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation.


  • Sensor size: APS-C CMOS
  • Effective still resolution: 20.9MP
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots
  • Weight: 395g (body only)
  • Dimensions: 126.5 x 93.5 x 60mm

21 Tips for Candid Photography

Taking perfect candid photos is sometimes challenging for most photographers, especially those new to this genre of photography. Even though candid pictures are taken while the subject is unaware of the photographer's presence, it is not as easy as it seems.

However, several tips can help you take great candid photos on the streets, kids, and wedding photography.

Street Photography

Candid street photography is a genre of photography that captures everyday life in public places. It is characterized by its natural, unposed composition and focuses on everyday, ordinary people.

street candid photo of a couple by James X on Unsplash

Photo by James X on Unsplash

1. Dress Informally

When taking candid street photos, blending in with your surroundings is essential. Wear clothes that won't stand out, such as jeans and a t-shirt, to avoid attention.

2. Minimal Gear

You don't require much gear to take great street candid photos. A small, lightweight camera is all you need. You should also leave your tripod home if you're planning on doing a lot of walking.

3. Photographing at Ground Level

Among excellent ways to get great street candid photos is to photograph at ground level. This lets you get close to your subjects and capture their expressions and emotions.

4. Be Patient and Wait for the Right Moment

A good street candid photo is all about timing. You need to be patient and wait for the right moment to press the shutter. When photographing people, look for moments of interaction or interesting body language. If you're photographing cityscapes, look for moments of light and shadow.

5. Be Familiar with the Street Scene

Before taking photos, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the area. This will help you anticipate the flow of people and traffic and give you a better idea of where the best photo opportunities are.

street candid photo of a man by bruce mars on Unsplash

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

6. Be Friendly to the People

When capturing candid photos of people, it's important to be friendly and approachable. Ensure to make eye contact and smile with the people you photograph. If you seem friendly, people will be more likely to cooperate with you.

7. Be Conversant and Quick with Your Camera Setting

This will allow you to change settings as the situation warrants it quickly.

Kids Photography

Candid Kids photography is a genre of photography that involves taking pictures of children without them being aware of it. It is a style of photography that parents often use to capture their children's natural expressions and behavior.

8. Take a Lot of Photos

Taking one or two shots and hoping for the best will not cut it when it comes to candid photography.

You must be prepared to take dozens, if not hundreds, of photos to get a few good ones.

9. Do Not Direct the Scene

a girl's candid photo with Kate Rugby American Football Match Sports Backdrop for Photography

Kate Rugby American Football Match Sports Backdrop for Photography

The results will look very posed and unnatural if you try to pose or direct your subjects. Instead, let the kids play and interact with each other while you capture the moment.

10. Give the Kids Very Small Directions If Necessary

If you must say something to the kids while taking candid photos, keep your directions short and to the point. "Look over here for a second" or "Give me a big smile" are much better than "Look at the camera and say cheese!"

11. Make Sure That the Subject Faces Away from the Camera

The photo will look staged if everyone is looking at or facing the camera. Instead, have the kids interact with each other or their surroundings and take a shot when they're not looking.

12. Use a Camera with a Silent Shutter

If you're using a DSLR camera, set the shutter to silent mode so that you don't startle your subjects and ruin the moment.

13. Use Available Light

Whenever possible, use available light instead of flash. Flash can often produce harsh shadows and can be disruptive to kids and adults who are not used to having a bright light shining on their faces.

14. Capture Action and Movement

a girl's candid photo with Kate Valentine's day Backdrop Rose Manor Board Designed by Emetselch

Kate Valentine's day Backdrop Rose Manor Board Designed by Emetselch

Kids are in constant motion. To capture their energy and personality, try to take photos of them in action. This can be anything from playing on the playground to simply walking down the street.

Wedding Photography

Candid wedding photography is a genre of photography that involves capturing spontaneous moments during a wedding.

It is about capturing the little moments that happen throughout the day, from the bride getting ready with her bridesmaids to the groom seeing his bride for the first time, to the couple sharing a private moment during the reception.

These moments will truly capture the day's emotion and the couple's love.

15. Use a Longer Lens

Longer lenses enable one to zoom the subjects, making it easier to take close photos without getting too close. This is ideal for wedding candid shots as it will help you capture the natural expressions of the bride and groom as well as the guests without making them conscious of your presence.

wedding candid photo with Photo by Chiến Phạm on Unsplash

Photo by Chiến Phạm on Unsplash

16. Plan Ahead

Have a mental or physical list of all the key shots you want to get on the big day. This will ensure that you don't miss out on anything important and help you be more efficient with your time to get more candid shots.

17. Take Photos of People in Groups

Photographs of people in groups will make your work easier as you will not have to single out each person to take their photo. This is also a great way to capture people's interactions and expressions.

18. Frame Images

Use the environment to your advantage by framing your shots. This is done by using doorways, windows, or even tree branches. This will add depth and dimension to your photos.

19. Follow the Laughter

Candid shots are all about capturing natural moments and emotions. One of the best ways to do this is to follow the laughter. Laughter is often contagious, so if you see someone laughing, there's a good chance that others around them will be too.

20. Pay Attention to Body Language

Look out for people leaning in or out, those who have their arms crossed or fidgeting. These cues can help you capture a more candid picture meaning.

wedding candid photo with Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

21. Always Be Ready

Candid shots are often unplanned and spontaneous, so you need to be ready to take them at a moment's notice. This means having your camera on hand and being prepared to take the shot when the opportunity arises.


Capturing perfect candid photos is a great challenge for most photographers, especially beginners. However, following the above tips, you can be sure to get great candid shots that you will be proud of.

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