Candid style portrait photography is a term I use to describe how I do portraits. It has taken me a few years to find a way of doing things that is comfortable, shows how I see things and looks good. As a photographer there are a ton of styles out there and its good to try out different kinds in the name of learning, but at some point you start seeing your tendencies and what comes most natural to you.
My tip: don't fight it!
Perhaps things were meant to happen this way, but most of my earliest subjects were children. I have a lot of little cousins and friends with young children as well. Its been both an honor and pleasure to be able to photograph all these little guys and girls as they continue to grow.
One thing I learned very early on is that kids will be kids. Its tough to tell them to do what you want them to do when all they want to do is play. It was very tough at first as most kids are very unpredictable. But, I then got into the mindset of not "creating the photo". Children are so beautiful already and I often found it was best to just let them be themselves. Any time I'd ask them to smile for me or to do something specific they'd be quick to do something else. And I can't fault them its super boring to stare at someone with a huge lens in their face.
So, I stepped back a little and did what comes natural to me and that is to observe. At first I had a ton of blurry photos and missed shots and thinking, gosh, I wish I had been standing somewhere else as they keep running away from me.
But, with practice and just hanging out with them for a few minutes without taking photos I noticed they started feeling a lot more comfortable with me around. And if they did decide to run off I found it was often away from or towards mommy. Once I knew they were in their zone I could then pick up the camera and start preparing for some split second moments.
And you know what? I could do it. I found tons of natural moments, expressions, and movement that really captured who they really were. And to be honest it was often the moments in between the perfect head on portrait that really shined. But, you really need both to capture the full story.
The first is a great portrait, but the second just offers up so much emotion. Providing both of these photos in a set truly helps to show some personality. I'll be honest and let you know that she still has amazingly cute smiles and laughter.
Of course, I also photograph families and seniors as well, but I do keep a similar approach. I offer some simple posing guidelines, but just to get things started. I don't want the person to be nervous or overthinking their pose. Generally each look I get is a pretty quick setup. Who wants to stand there with the same look on their face for more than 10 seconds?
In addition to keeping the looks moving along it also allows me to get a variety of photos in a single location. And, it keeps my subject engaged. Many times we're chatting about something while I'm taking the photo.
In some occasions I enjoy having family or friends nearby as they can provide the person some amusement. You never know what inside joke they might have or what they were talking about prior to arriving for the session. Real expression often comes from interacting with others, so I'm all for that.
Here is one of the seniors I worked with last year.
Mom was hanging out as well with us, but she was following from a distance. I asked her to come closer and they both started chatting a little. This is a moment I was able to capture.
And, I'll admit, the portrait session was a success!
It honestly wasn't until I started to review recent photo sessions and how I do things that I realized that having an unscripted session brings out the best in everyone.
In the end I want to be able to capture some amazing photos and be able to show the real you.