Tips for Taking Candid Portraits

I firmly believe that people are the most compelling photographic subjects. As much as I love taking pictures of flowers and interesting objects, nothing can communicate as much information as a human being. Each of these pictures tells you a whole lot about the person in it. And, at least according to my interpretation of each picture, the messages are pretty darn accurate. I can understand why some people believe photographs steal a part of the soul, because I definitely think souls are present in these images.

Capturing candid pictures of people can be a little awkward sometimes. I know if someone started snapping away at me while I was in the middle of doing something else, I’d feel pretty self-conscious. I think it helps to start photographing people you have solid relationships with so the process is more comfortable. Also, it’s nice to have meaningful pictures of people who are important to you.

One of the things I really love about candid portraits is the setting behind the subject. Backgrounds provide a lot of context clues and really contribute to the mood of a photo. Did you notice the reflection in the sunglasses in the first picture? Could you guess the time of day by the lighting? Did the Bose headset in the second picture or the “espresso” sign in the third picture impact the way you interpreted those photos? When taking candid portraits, you can add a lot of meaning by strategically (or by luck) including these clues.

My last tip for taking meaningful portraits is to always keep the eyes in focus. I know Stella puppy isn’t a person, but her big, brown eyes communicate a lot of information about her state of mind. If her nose or ears had been in focus instead of her eyes, this picture would have been a dud. What tips do you use when photographing people?

Next time, I’ll discuss low-light photography! Also, please note that these photos are subject to copyright and should not be used for impermissible purposes (like being republished without my permission).

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