No, its not Candid Photography
The most common question we encounter is What is Candid photography and how it is different from Traditional style.
To our surprise everyone has different concept as per their understanding. We already posted on this Topic "Traditional vs Candid vs Photojournalism".
Let's get into more details.
The trend of Candid Photography, is something which has gone really popular from last few years and you may find a lot of Candid Photographers now-a-days. If you go ahead and ask them, what is Candid and what exactly a photographer tries to achieve, the commonest replies you get is 'candid photography aims to capture natural expressions, without making your subject conscious' or 'we capture these photos from a long 70-200 mm lens, which is considered ideal for candid photography, as subject has no idea of being clicked and we are able to get most natural expressions, ensuring bokeh, blur and effects'.
Well, these statements without a doubt are true, but these are pretty general and universal. Different photographers will give you these answers, depending on their level of thought or from their earning perspective. When anyone tries to get knowledge on photography, most of us Google our keywords and get access to tremendous thoughts, scribbled by international community. Learning from that source is great but blindly implementing the same technique is incorrect.
How ? Lets understand.
Style of Weddings in West, Europe and Asia considerably differ from one another. Even Indian weddings, vary state wise. The 70-200 mm lens, which is considered ideal for Candid Photography was first used Internationally and majority of the western community got benefitted from the excellent photo output it produced.
But In India, photographers got influenced from reviews posted by western photographers and started using the same lens frequently. In no time, 70-200 became really popular among wedding photographers and all the new generation of amateur photographers kept it in their arsenal. Eventually traditional photographers also bought this lens and joined the league. Its relatively easy to use this tele-zoom lens, as photographer has to just stand at a random corner and has to hit the shutter.
Wait, we are not condemning the lens, it's a great lens, which is convenient and definitely does justice to the photo.
The ultimate question is...Do you really get Candid Images, standing that far from the subject ? Well maybe, if you call random smiling portrait with a blurred background as a candid photo. But can you really make out where the images had been clicked, can you identify whether its a party or a wedding or can you find out what's going around? You actually get no idea from these images. Smiling and surprised faces are not candid, they are just portraits. And anybody can do that, as all you have to do is to find a corner, spot your targeted people who are smiling, click photos on the burst mode and you will get few decent images for sure.
This approach means, You don't need any confidence of clicking people on their face, neither you need to make your subjects comfortable. You only arrive at venue, know nobody and start clicking like a hidden sniper without any school of thought. The client does not really care who is clicking the images, no sense of understanding or a level of comfort is needed between the subject and photographer.
There are some major problems with this approach that we'd like to highlight:
* The photographer standing that far has no idea of what is actually happening. He definitely will miss out on the finer details, that has to be observed and captured closely.
* The photographer will not be able to find about your mental and emotional level at that particular moment and how much fun you are having at that point of time. He will instead look for funny, smiling faces from a distance and will capture their expressions and will address them as natural candid photos.
* He will miss out on the ambience, surroundings and depth in images.
* Also if you will notice a random photographer from a distance is capturing you from a tele-zoom lens, you will get conscious/uncomfortable and the so called candid approach will fail.
By now you must have realized, that a smiling portrait with an effect or a portrait where subject is isolated from background is not candid photography.
So what defines Candid Photography?
* Candid photography shows lovely, beautiful moments, where your subject looks extremely comfortable. It shows people indulged happily in activities and are carrying their most original expressions.
* A Candid Image shows, where your subjects are and what are they doing.
* Expressions are in the most natural form and can be related to the appropriate ritual and tradition.
* A candid image shows what is going around the subject. From reactions of people around to the fine details of the venue.
In short a candid image speaks for itself and conveys a story. But the sniper generation do not really understand the exact meaning and motive behind capturing these images. They have been wrongly instructed by their managers to stand at a corner and start clicking portraits with expressions. It's not exactly their fault of holding a long lens and capturing subject from a distance, the fault is in the sheep approach, that started in the west and is blindly implemented everywhere.
Can candid photography be done without a long lens?
Absolutely. You need to be close to your subject and use a wide angle lens (50 mm or less). The photographer has to stand at a distance of approximately two-four meter and has to click photos, without making subject conscious/uncomfortable.
How can that be done?
* A photographer should not be unknown to the subject and should be considered friendly.
* Photographer should be aware of the thin lines and should give personal space to the subject.
* He should not surprise the subject, by taking out camera at the last moment.
* His presence should be there at the front, when some action in form of rituals is taking place.
All of this can be achieved by meeting the photographer in advance, so that the subject can wisely pitch the exact requirement to the photographer and can generate compatibility and a level of trust in him. So finalize your photographer wisely. Consider reading the mentioned blog post on finalizing the best photographer here.
A good candid photographer meets their clients in person, jots down requirements and share their ideas and finalize things. These personal meetings ensure that both parties are comfortable and help figure out mutual likes and dislikes. When the client is comfortable and photographer is clear about what is to be accomplished, then that confidence automatically shows up in his images.
The photographer reaches the venue, 2-3 hours in advance, evaluates the setup and can plan things with his team. Reaching in advance also gives him enough time to get comfortable with guests and relatives.
The photographer remains in touch with bride/groom/family till after the wedding and be friends with client afterwards.
The veteran photo journalist Robert Paca has quoted it right "If your photos aren't good enough, you aren't close enough".
Tip: Always ask your "Photographer" who is going to cover your event?. Is it going to be someone random available at that time or a core team member. Meet him in person and then decide.