Do me a favour this holiday season and try not line all your relatives up in front of the tree and shoot them. Photographically speaking of course.....
We all have those pictures in our photo albums, you know everyone from uncle Jim to Grandma Norrie standing in a line all looking like deer in the headlights looking straight in the camera. This year it is time to move past all that and to capture some candid photos of our loved ones.
Candid photography strive to capture a slice of emotion or a fleeting moment in time. They tell much more of a story then the normal everyday photos that normally fill our albums. They are definitely a lot more work for you the photographer. To capture a great moment in time requires you to make a photo, not take it.
I once read a article about a National Geographic photographer where he indicated that the entire first roll of film he used when shooting a subject, was just to get him relax. The same is true with candid photography. When you pull out your camera, it immediately draws attention (especially if its a nice one!). Start snapping photos of people, and after a few minutes your relatives will pay less attention to you (if they already do that's a different story!!
After your snapping is going unnoticed, then the real work begins. Candid photography is all about anticipation. If someone tells a joke (and if it's good) someone will laugh. Click, click. As soon as the kids know what they are ripping open, they usually go berserk. Click, click. It's these little nuggets of emotion that make or break a great photo. Those are the photos when you are flipping through an album years from now people will say, “Wow, what a great photo of Jim!!”.
Let there be light
The main enemy to candid photography is the flash. It's a definitely tipping people off that your taking pictures and slows down the time from when you take one photo till you camera can take the next one. All cameras have a setting in which you can disable the internal flash, but you are going to need to boost the ambient light sources in order to make up the difference. Turn on some extra lights, open the shades and you will be amazed at how much extra light there will be to work with.
Another mode that will help you is continuous shooting. This mode allows you to take multiple pictures when you hold down the shutter button. With the flash off it works even faster and increases you chances of capturing the right moment.
If you have a DSLR (digital SLR) consider getting a faster lens, like a 50mm f1.8. As lenses go, they are surprisingly cheap. The 1.8 indicates the aperture, which controls how much light there is to work with. It lets in roughly 4 times the amount of light that the standard lens that came with your camera did.
Candid photography is lot more work than standard day to day picture taking, but the payoff when you capture an awesome image full of emotion is quite rewarding.