Are Candid Photos Really Candid?

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“We don’t really like posed photos; we want a lot of candid shots.” – Every family or soon to be married couple – Ever. I agree that truly candid images are hands down, the best. But when looking at a photo gallery, how many of those candid photos are actually candid?

Some Background

See, strictly candid photography is relatively new in the world. Back when everything was shot on film, photographers had to be very intentional with their images (i.e., pose, adjust, modify, etc.) because they couldn’t rattle off 20 images in 2 seconds. Film cameras also didn’t have the automatic modes that modern cameras employ, which meant that photographers had to ensure every image was perfectly exposed BEFORE pressing the shutter button. There was no LCD screen back then.

Candid Photography is Born

Enter the age of digital and major technological improvements! Now a photographer can throw their camera into auto, take a test shot, review it on their LCD screen, modify their settings, and then fire away! With the advent of speed, convenience, and infinite storage space memory cards, candid photography was made commonplace.

Naturally, everyone realized that they could now get images of random laughter outbursts, adorably misbehaving kids, loving-Meghan Markle type ceremony looks, and more! It’s amazing, and honestly, they are some of my most beloved images even as a photographer. But are they all actually 100% candid?

Candid Photo Examples

Let’s take an engagement session, for instance. We see a picture of a couple snuggled up and giggling at each other. Did this just happen magically? Not really… Sure it’s their actual reactions, but I told them to snuggle up like that. Even more, I told him to lick her nose! SERIOUSLY! I waited for his tongue to go away before snapping the image, of course, but I had to be fast enough to catch her genuine reaction.

Girl smiles at groom for candid photo by Atlanta, GA Engagement Photographer Mike glatzer
A Candid Smile after a Nose Lick

Another example is a headshot session. Unless you’re a professional actor, producing a genuine smile or laugh is not easy to do! Right before I snapped this image, I cracked a joke about how the original cut of Aladin had the Genie screaming, “Tell her to take her clothes off!” Granted, we were already on the subject of how dirty Disney movies actually are, but I still had to create this “candid” moment.

real estate brand headshot
Dirty jokes make for great expressions

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s not much I have to do for a wedding ceremony when a groom cries upon seeing his bride walk down the aisle. That’s REAL every single time. I never have to prompt bridesmaids to randomly burst out in song during their prep, or ask a group of brothers not to inappropriately touch each other for laughs during a portrait session. There are certain interactions that simply can’t be encouraged or manufactured, but these moments don’t happen 100% of the time, all the time.

Bottom Line

The overall point I’m trying to make is that a photographer can claim that they’re photojournalistic and candid all day long, but they’ll just sit in the corner of the room and snap frames all day. That’s absolutely perfect – if that’s what you want from your photographer. Some candid photos though may need a little more help from your photographer to appear natural and emotional. I’d recommend finding a photographer that can do both.

P.S. Don’t forget, your photographer will have to pose you eventually. Check that they’re good at it.

If you have questions about capturing candid photos in your session, then shoot me an email.

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