Candid Street Photography In 2021 (How I Do It)


What Is Candid Street Photography?

There are many explanations on the internet for what a candid comprises of. In my experience,

It’s the art of taking a photograph of a subject in their natural state, in a public place, unposed and without their knowledge.

//VLR

Sounds creepy right? Especially the part where they don’t know you’re taking their photograph.

I’ll let you into a secret.

If you ask to take someones photograph one of two things will happen:

  1. They say no, they walk away, and you miss an opportunity to capture a moment which tells a story.
  2. They say yes and … you miss an opportunity to capture a moment which tells a story.

Voir La Rue – London

Posed v Candid

Its best here to imagine a wedding.

After the wedding ceremony, the wedding photographer will gather groups of people, pose them for the camera, and ensure the lighting, settings and eyes are all in the perfect position for the photograph.

What you lose in this moment, however, is the raw emotion. The single moment where a tear falls down a cheek, the moment where the grandad dances with his grandaughter in the corner. These moments can’t be staged convincingly and so the moment is lost.

This is the same in Street Photography. The moment you pose a subject, or they notice you and subconsciously pose, the moment has gone.

Top tip – Find the moment, pick your shot, raise your camera, take the shot and move on.

I have explained this in more detail in my 10 Ways To Blend In – A Street Photography Guide.

Voir La Rue – Liverpool

Can Anyone Do It?

Absolutely!

Any personally here helps.

Extrovert? Not a problem, you’ll find it comfortable to be surrounded by people. You may even find yourself in situations where you can take photograph of even more intense moment.

Introvert? Perfect! Your skills of avoiding eye contact, detection and your ability to blend in make you the perfect candidate for this stye of photography. Blend in, remain unnoticed, take your shot and move on.

Voir La Rue – Liverpool

What equipment do you need?

Believe it or not, this is the hard part.

There is soooo much choice out there.

DSRL, Mirrorless or even film?

85mm, 50mm, 20mm, 18mm… 14mm?

f/1.2, f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4, f/16?

Don’t even get me started on where to focus!

For now, I would strongly suggest you use what you have, both gear and experience. The equipment is not necessarily the most important part. Sure, its what you need to capture the image but thats all you can capture with a camera… an image.

To capture a story, a moment of interest, you need to immerse yourself with the situation. Use what you have, find the story, follow the moment and press that shutter button.

That being said, there does come a moment when you have the experience and an eye for finding a moment or a story. In that situation, you could consider a mirrorless camera.

Heres a short guide for 10 Reasons Why You Need A Mirrorless Camera For Street Photography!

Canon M50

My Take Away

So I hope that helped.

This is what I prescribe to when im out and about. The opportunity that presents its self and the moment that results, for me, will always be more important than the photography gear I carry.

Do you have any advice for taking candid photographs? I’d love to hear about them in the comments ✌🏼


Henri Cartier-Bresson

Master Candid Moments