Candid Shots vs Composed Photos

I have two favorite types of photos, whether it is for a portrait session or for an event. There are candid photos, where people are doing what they would naturally be doing in that environment.It could be children on a playground or a newly married couple’s first dance. Anything that makes you feel like you are looking at a moment through your own eyes instead of a camera lens. Then there are composed photos, where the photographer has the subjects organized into some sort of order or completing an action, as in traditional family photos where everyone is gathered around Grandma. Both types of pictures have their advantages and I think that a mixture of the two works well for most situations. Although I haven’t been doing this professionally for long, I’ve been taking photographs for years and I am definitely the shutterbug in my extended family.

Candid photos are wonderful because you can really capture the spirit of a moment. As a gift, I took photos at the reception of a friend of mine, and she told me that her favorite picture—out of the three hundred I took at the reception—was one of her brother and his son. They were sitting at the table about to eat dinner, and he was putting a napkin around the boy’s neck so his little tuxedo wouldn’t get dirty. The little boy was looking up at his dad and his whole face was lit up with a huge smile.It was a really tender moment. The two of them didn’t even know I was there. If they had, they would have been looking at me instead of each other, and the moment would have been lost.

Composed photos, on the other hand, can be really helpful at a chaotic event like a family reunion where people are socializing and mingling. It can be hard to get all of the combinations of people that the client wants, so organizing people into groups will make sure that every photo they want can be captured. I made up a checklist for my paying clients so that I am sure not to miss anyone. Composed shots are also a good idea for newborn photos because sometimes the parents aren’t really sure what to do and the pictures can look forced or awkward. You can only tell someone so many times to pretend you aren’t there! I have found that parents of newborns, especially if it is their first, tend to take direction really well, though, and seem relieved sometimes to have someone telling them what to do. Or at least it has been in my experience with neighbors, family members, and friends so far!

I want to be sure to capture all the moments that my clients want but provide them with a good mix of composed and candid pictures. I also always want to get at least a few shots that catch them off guard. You know, the kind where they say, “I didn’t even know you were there for that!” Those kinds of moments always make me smile and feel like I have finally found my calling in life!