by Editor Rob Darby
Candid: “Truthful and straightforward, frank, direct, honest, sincere.” The word “candid” definitionally describes photography that is unposed and often taken without the subject’s knowledge.
In thinking about this type of photography, I immediately said to myself...”well, street photography, of course.” Street photographers search for that moment when the subject is unaware that they are being documented and through gesture, expression, body language and/or action reveals an insight into the human condition that the photographer may have hoped to capture. The result, in its most successful form, is an image that evokes emotion in an honest and direct way.
This is to take nothing away from images that are composites, or creative edits that the artist uses to convey a preconceived vision. These images are effective in telling a story or eliciting an emotion in the particular way that the artist envisioned.
A candid image can be created with an equal amount of intention, but the result is more uncertain: the alchemy of vision, location, and a certain amount of chance. Henri Bresson Cartier describes this as “catching the decisive moment.” It is that moment when the photographer presses the shutter because she sees something that intrigues her; thereby, she documents a place and time in a way that, when executed successfully, makes us feel something unique or see the world in a different way.
In curating images for this article, I focused on street, everyday, and documentary images. It is also true, however, that landscape photography has elements similar to candid street photography. Wildlife photography, in particular, involves documenting animals in their natural habitat. It is, by definition, candid photography since, like humans on a street, they do what they do and the photographer has little choice but to accept and capture the moment that is presented.
Candid moments have a raw feel to them. Since they are unposed (generally), there is a genuine quality to the emotion the photographer captures. A candid moment can have great impact since there is a sense by the viewer that the image is an unfiltered expression of that moment. There is no pretence or forbearance, and therefore we feel something that is organic, and some would argue more powerful as a result.
So how do we create more candid images?
I cannot purport to be an expert, but here are a few ideas:
* Take your camera everywhere. I started carrying a camera body with me, even to work, and vowed to stop and take an image of anything that makes me say “wow.” I stop the car more often now and I take (and delete) a lot more shots.
* Use a long zoom to avoid having your subject know you are observing them. This is not meant to be perverse, of course, and discretion is always important. A candid moment should not be invasive to your subject, but, similar to photographing wildlife, putting distance between you and your subject allows your be an observer and not a participant.
* Strategically position yourself. While candid moments are spontaneous, we increase our chances of capturing something interesting if we think through the composition before positioning ourselves to shoot.
* Photograph people doing something and, better yet, doing things with other people, to create increased interest in the image.
* Try various, perhaps even unconventional, points of view. For example, try shooting with your camera held low, from your hip, angled, or with foreground that frames the action.
'Memories of another day' by Lior Yaakobi
Often we reveal more of ourselves when we don’t know someone is watching us. So, then, capturing the candid moment may reveal a deeper insight into the essence of a person, place, or moment in time...and, perhaps most importantly, the complex tapestry of the human condition.