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All about Candid Photography

In the vocabulary of photography as the name suggests it is all about capturing the subjects naturally and spontaneously without them posing for the camera. Popular amongst the street and wedding photographers, it requires a certain amount of experience along with a lot of confidence and quick reflexes


It goes without saying that you must know your equipment inside out. That's the only way you can shoot the very moment you spot something. whatever equipment you may be using, get the hang of it before venturing out on the street or a travel destination. You may check out the first steps in taking a Photograph if you are a beginner!


Any camera with a fast-focusing capability is a great choice. As you notice something around, the moment you aim your camera to focus and click, there should be no lag at all. If you are struggling to focus, you are most likely to miss the shot. Use Fast cards as well to keep pace with the whole system but it totally depends on your style of shooting. Just that the cards should not be too slow and outdated which have very slow write speeds.

Opt for FAST LENSES to match a fast Camera

Your camera can focus fast only if it has an equally fast lens as well. Fast means a lens with a wide-open maximum aperture. As you know we see through the viewfinder via the maximum opened aperture even though you may have set the aperture on any other number. It's when we release the shutter, the aperture closes down to what we have set. the focusing is also achieved while the aperture is still at its maximum opened setting. This allows for faster focusing as more light is entering through this opened aperture. However, this does not mean that you can't take candid pictures without an expensive lens. With improvements in technology, the focusing capability of new lenses is way better than it used to be. But if budget is not a constraint and not missing a shot is crucial go for the best affordable lens in the market.

Sometimes a wide-angle lens works out better than a longer and bulkier telephoto lens.

If are on a beach or any other crowded area, your camera with a wide-angle lens will remain much more compact and unnoticeable as compared to a long protruding lens of a telephoto. people around will be more on guard and be aware of your presence if you have a long lens on your camera. With a simple wide-angle lens you can still shoot a lot of interesting activity going on just around you with intimidating your subjects in the frame.

Photography - Munish Khanna

A wide angle was used for this shot on one of the beaches in Barcelona in Spain. the perspective from a wide angle is such as if you are viewing it right from where this image starts. It gives the feeling of being there itself.


Zoom is the way to go if you are planning to do a lot of Candid photography. The advantages are many. The moment you spot something interesting you can frame the shot just the way you want it. Zoom in or zoom out as per your requirement before you release the shutter. On the other hand with a prime lens, you may get the shot but you may eventually have to crop the image if the subject was too far off. Or the situation may require you to shoot a bit wider, which may not be possible with the fixed focal length on your camera.

Zoom lens allows one to change the subject at a faraway distance to something that is nearby. I captured this boatsman while sitting opposite him on the same boat with a 24-105mm lens at the wider end of 24mm in Varanasi.

Photography - Munish Khanna

Photography - Munish Khanna

A Good example of wide angle. I photographed these women at a but stop as they were waiting for the Bus from quite a close distance

QUALITY OF IMAGES is still a Priority as a default

It's a myth that the quality of photographs does not need to be great if you are shooting candid photos. It may not always be a priority or a possibility but yes, for a good photographer, it will always be important that the content, expressions, freezing the moment, composition and a good exposure always go along together in one frame.

Shooting RAW helps for sure.

Irrespective of whether I am shooting candid or an organized photography session, I always shoot on camera RAW as that is the most superior file format which you have in hand while shooting. This allows you a bit of flexibility in exposure and you have the opportunity to fine-tune it to your exact liking and requirement. with so many varied media on which your image eventually lands up I feel the final assessment of the exposure and the look of the image depends on where it is going to be released in the end. is to be printed in CMYK or RGB or will be viewed across computer monitors or mobile screens.

STREET and TRAVEL are great opportunities to practice your skills.

You may not always be wanting to build your career in photography around these genres but these give you a lot of opportunities to practice and explore your skills in candid photography.


This is another area where professional wedding photographers try to explore every available opportunity to catch the moments in the most candid manner. It's a myth amongst many starters that a flash cannot be used for candid photography. As discussed earlier, candid photographs need not be poorly exposed photographs. You can use an off or on-camera flash and still be discreet with your approach to shooting a person, without him or her being aware of being photographed. Moreover, at a wedding, beyond a point, people do get prone to being photographed and unless the photographer makes it very obvious, they may not even notice that they are being photographed.

Photography - Munish Khanna

Photography - Munish Khanna

It does not always have to be a very fast and split-second moment to qualify to be a candid moment. Something as pensive like this is also candid and natural.

Candid Photography works great for FASHION and GLAMOUR

Even if you have planned everything beforehand, there will be candid unplanned moments expressed candidly by your subjects. If you are alert and have that sense of innovation, you won't mind releasing the shutter at any such opportunity. Such shots always work out well even if they are not as per your creative brief. Even if these are unusable for your client as they may not fall under the original plan, they are great shots for your own personal portfolio. And many times, your client likes them as well and now that he has this creative shot, probably may use it as well if it meets his overall requirements.

Capture the RIGHT MOMENT and not THE WRONG ONE.

Shooting at just about the right moment which is also artistically appealing or visually conveying a message through the picture itself is a skill at the hands of a capable photographer. Just taking random shots in awkward positions and expressions is not candid photography. It's natural but not something we would like to be recorded forever. Aim for such moments and expressions which highlight a story or a mood through that split-second moment.

Photography - Munish Khanna

THE BIGGEST TIP for Candid Photography would be to SHOOT ON APERTURE PRIORiTY MODE

It makes a lot of sense to shoot at Aperture priority instead of spending a lot of time setting the exposure on manual mode. Just keep in mind that as you set your aperture, do not let your shutter speed drop less than 1/60th of a second. Either open up the aperture in such cases or increase the ISO in small increments so as to achieve the shutter speed which enables you to shoot handheld. Remember, the shutter speed suitable for handheld shots with longer lenses is relatively higher and in proportion to the focal length of your lens. Image stabilization of your lens and nowadays in your camera is of course a big plus point.

Concern for PRIVACY

with so many mobile phone cameras hanging around, the issue of privacy will always remain debatable. The smaller the camera and other paraphernalia are chances are you won't be noticed much. As long as you are not doing something unethical, something which may actually harm someone or you are intruding into someone's private territory and space, it should, in my personal opinion be all right.

It's common and normal to be naked on certain beaches like this one in Barcelona, Spain. However, it would have been a breach if this was on a private property.

Photography - Munish Khanna


whatsoever may be your intentions, stay out of restricted areas and sensitive areas. Do not point out your camera or for that matter even take it out of your bags in and around sensitive areas or Armed forces.


If you sense that the people around you are not too favorable towards the presence of a camera in their surroundings, let them know that you are an amateur and learning the skill. That the images are just for your personal collection. Not everyone would understand the concept of street photography, especially in rural areas. It is better to move on to another spot instead of just getting into an unpleasant argument.


This is the most important aspect of candid photography. Keep an open eye and continue to explore around you. Something interesting may not just be happening in front of you. walk around and look around the unexpected spots as well.

Photography - Munish Khanna


You do not have to fall into distinct categories of Photography styles. You can approach your subject in a more candid manner or in a more conventional formal manner. But it does not mean that you cannot switch between the two as your session is going on. There are candid moments in-between as your subject poses for the camera. Do not hesitate to release the shutter and capture such moments as these are the most unexpected ones and difficult and sometimes impossible to achieve in a conventional manner. Your subject may actually be candid.

This is an adverting campaign I did for Bla Bla cars. Everyone of course is staged inside the car and the camera has been fixed on the dashboard. Tethered to the laptop placed on the dashboard, I released the shutter from Canon's shooting software. Even though I was prompting the actors, I let them be more candid with their expressions.

Photography - Munish Khanna

Photography - Munish Khanna

Advertising photography


You may often be accompanied by a journalist interviewing your subject. This is a good time to catch some informal candid shots before you setup for a formal session which may not even be required if you have already go some interesting photographs. Be involved in the whole process if you wish to get some great shots. Understand the story and the relevance of the same in the current context. If the interview is about a recent tragedy or a controversy you can't really show the subject in laughter, even if he may have laughed on something. Putting such a picture will not go well with the headline unless you really want o create yet another controversy. In such situations even if a file photograph is shown of a leading personality related to the topic, it must be relevant. "The country is going through a big crisis", can't show the image of the Key Minister in a big joyful mood. A pensive thoughtful photograph in some dramatic lighting may work better.


Weddings are perfect playgrounds for applying your skills as a good candid wedding photographer as just like a busy street there is a lot of activity going on.

Photography - Munish Khanna

Candid and spontaneous Self Portraits

Just as there are candid moments in the posed photography sessions, self-portraits too can be natural and spontaneous especially when you have more than one person in the photograph.

Photography - Munish Khanna


If there is a Potential of capturing a good candid shot in a situation, do explore all possibilities and shoot more. if you shoot more, chances of your getting a great shot are higher. If you have got the shot, shoot variations as long as the situation lasts.

Photography - Munish Khanna

Photography - Munish Khanna

Photography - Munish Khanna


Many photography enthusiasts wonder where they could find candid shots for their portfolio. Don't do it for the sake of doing it. You must relate to your work. Where ever there are people together there is bound to be some other interesting activity. head out to where the crowd is. where there is a special interest for the people to be collected together. This could be a market, a fair, a festival or any such activity.

People come over from far-off distances just to take a holy dip in the waters of the river Ganga and it is all the more special during festivals.

Photography - Munish Khanna

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