Candid picture story

Ryan Valdes, 22, works behind a counter at Skate Station Funworks renting skates out to customers on Wednesday.

Ryan Valdes, fifth year advertising major, “jam dances” in his skates while working at Skate Station Funworks on Wednesday.

Sure enough, my final photography project for my photojournalism class involves candid photography. I have to document a part of a person’s life through pictures and a live interview. We have to give the viewer a feel for what makes the subject who he or she is.

The subject of my project, Ryan Valdes, is a “floor guard” at the local roller skating rink at Skate Station Funworks. He is one of the employees on the skating rink who assists skaters and ensures the rules are followed. He wears a referee-like striped shirt so he is easily spotted and recognized as a member of the staff.

My job as the photographer and creator of the final presentation is to take photos of him while or works and does any other activity that relates to his passion for dancing. The pictures must all be candid so I have precisely catch the moments in which he performs a trick and does something visually appealing on the rink. I have to make sure that Valdes’ personality shows in these pictures to give it as much life as he has.

I also need to include a variety of types of shots to keep the presentation exciting. I need full-body pictures as well as picture from the waist-up. There also needs to be a picture of my subject’s face where his eyes show up. Obviously with these being candid shots, I had to get the picture while Valdes was looking at someone else while I was close by. This variety will also help with the pacing of my slide show so the same kinds of pictures are not all back-to-back.

One of the hardest part of this assignment has proved to be freezing Valdes’ motion while he is in his skates. He is moving very fast at times and it is dark in the skating rink so I must always use flash, but even with the flash firing the shutter speed is not always fast enough to make for a good shot.

I have been experimenting with multiple shots for this project. What this feature allows for is the shooting of picture after picture after picture being shot for as long as you hold down the shutter-release button to take the picture. This lets me acquire several shots of movement to choose from rather than just one that hopefully captured just the right moment. If you have ever photographed someone jumping in the air, you know how challenging it is to catch the exact point that he or she is airborne. With multiple shots, you have a greater chance of getting a good photo out of it.

With this in mind, try taking some multiple shots of your own the next time you need your timing to be perfect for a shot.

Happy Shooting!


Cameron Diaz shops for handbags in New York City, N.Y. Photo from:

Just because you like taking candid photographs does not mean that you have to become a paparazzo or paparazza. Paparazzi specialize in taking candid photos of celebrities or other prominent figures. A lot of times they go to extreme lengths to get their pictures and they do not always respect their subject’s privacy or personal space. You do not want to be annoying to your subjects, but have them want to get their picture taken, or at least not mind that you are photographing them.

I came across a website that has a collection of candid photographs of today’s most talked-about celebrities. It’s a bit overwhelming, but it shows how far some people are willing to go to get a photo. The link to the website can be found above in the caption of the photo of Cameron Diaz from the site. A photographer followed her around while she was out shopping. This is a candid photo, but you do not have to stalk people to take candid shots.

It is unnecessary to harass people if you want photos of them. Let your subject do what he or she normally does and capture what you can. Telephoto lenses help you get good shots from a farther distance so you do not need to be in anyone’s face. Paparazzi use these lenses quite frequently.

You can take pictures of a variety of people and do not need to tail one subject. When you think about candid photography, the first thing that comes to mind should not be the paparazzi swarming around movie stars. There are so many cooler occupational opportunities. You could always be a private investigator snapping photos of spouses having affairs!

Happy Shooting!

Save face, erase

From left to right, Colleen Pollett, Matt Carney, Jason D’Souza and Ross Van Der Merwe tailgate before the Florida/Georgia game in Jacksonville, Fla.

What’s one way to anger the subjects of your photographs? Take bad pictures of them. If you take a picture that does not look good because somebody is making an awkward face, take another picture and delete the bad one. Nothing makes people respect a photographer more than the photographer’s concern with making them look good.

This is beneficial to you as the photographer as well because when something is wrong with a picture, it reflects badly on you. Anyone who sees the picture would wonder why you did not re-shoot it. Sometimes, an imperfect picture is unavoidable when you take candids because if you catch a significant moment, someone’s expression might look silly or the background is too busy. All you can do is take the best picture you can for the particular circumstance.

The above picture captures the fun of tailgating with your friends. Someone is even laughing. His expression in the photo is natural and appealing, but you are not always this lucky. Sometimes a face mid-expression looks incredibly awful. It is your call to keep or erase a picture, but keep in mind the individual’s attitudes about the photograph. You would not want to be in a picture in which you look bad either, so unless the picture is otherwise absolutely spectacular, you probably do not want to keep it.

Happy Shooting!

Always be prepared

One thing I’ve learned while studying photojournalism is that a photojournalist always has to be prepared. Something could happen at any moment that would be great if you caught it on camera. One of the first steps to being a good photojournalist is to always have your camera on you.

Even though I only need to take my camera to my photojournalism lab that meets once a week, I normally have it on me all week. This is so that just in case I come across something that I want to capture, I’m ready. Local newspapers and especially college campus papers are always looking for feature photos that will spice up the periodical and provide somewhat of a story. What better way to capture such a shot than to carry your camera with you through your daily activities?

If you know specifically that something spectacular will be happening at a certain time, why not make sure you are there with your camera ahead of time? Just because you’ve never happened across anything vaguely interesting does not mean that you can’t plan to be somewhere where something is going to happen. If you hear about a fundraiser or other social event, it could be your opportunity to get coverage when nobody else is.

If you do get lucky and manage to shoot an excellent photo, don’t hesitate getting it published. Make sure you have identification for anyone in your photo and send it to the publication of your choice with your name. You’ll be flattered if the publication chooses to use it and can consolidate yourself with the fact that the newspaper or other publication you sent your photo to already had a good spread for the next day if they don’t use it.

So far, I have only sent one photo to the University of Florida camppus publication the alligator and it was not used. I will of course try again the next time I deem one of my photos worthy of publication. Rest assured, this blog will be updated as soon as that finally happens.

Happy Shooting!

Environmental portrait

Dale Warner, shift manager, slices pizza at the Pizza Hut on Archer Road.

Even without the caption, you know that Warner is slicing pizza and works at a pizza place. Props are key. The pizza cutter, pizza, and work uniform help to place him in his environment. The actual movement of him cutting the pizza (achieved with a slow shutter speed) makes the shot more interesting.

Rather than having Warner pose holding a pizza to show that he works in Pizza Hut, I took an unposed action shot to really show how he works. Nothing beats the natural, environmental photo. Try it the next time you need a picture of a person working.

Happy Shooting!

People “doing what they do” make the best kind of candid photos. If you can tell who a person is or what his or her occupation is just from the candid photograph, then it is a success!

For one of my photojournalism class projects, I needed to shoot an environmenal portrait of someone working. It had to be a candid shot and it needed to show what the person’s job was.

The next post demonstrates this.

IDs for captions

Christina Frick, a junior chemical engineering major at the University of Florida, texts in the J. Wayne Reitz Union between classes on Monday, October 4, 2010.

Not everyone feels comfortable walking up to people to take a candid photo of them. Even fewer people are comfortable approaching the subject of the picture afterward to get his or her name. This is a necessary part of journalism, however, because photographs that run in a publication need to have captions and the captions need to identify the people in the picture. 

Here are some useful tips for getting IDs for photos and for feeling more confident while doing so:

1. Take the picture first, then get identification. If you ask for permission first and are rejected, you should respect people’s wishes and not take pictures. Then you do not have any photos, though. If you take the pictures first, you have a picture and can even show the person what they look like, if you want, as proof that the photo is harmless and well-shot. If you capture a good enough moment, people will appreciate how good the photo is and cooperate with you.

2. Do not ask if you can have a person’s name; ask for his or her name. If you ask someone, “Can I have your name?” he or she could answer no and you do not get an ID. If you ask someone, “What is your name?” some will automatically answer with his or her name while others will ask what it is for. You should always explain to the people in your pictures what the photos are being used for. It could be for a class project or it could be for a publication and to some people that makes a difference.

3. Shoot pictures at places where photographs are expected. To get comfortable asking people for their names, you should start off taking pictures at places where a photographer would not seem out of place. Big events like concerts or football games are places you would normally find photographers. People would not mind giving their name so much, but rather feel special that they are in a photo. College campuses are also a great place to take pictures because there are so many journalism and photography majors snapping pictures on a regular basis that students and faculty are used to it. Playgrounds with children, outside of people’s homes and anywhere indoors would not be ideal places for pictures.

Enjoy using these tips to get more accustommed to interacting with people to get their identification.

Happy shooting!

Top 3 places to shoot candid photos

Two friends dance together at XS, a nightclub in Gainesville, Fla.

There are endless possibilities when in comes to places to shoot candid photographs, but I have three favorites:

1. Sport events.

At all sport events, except perhaps golf, croquet, and other sports I find utterly boring, there’s always some kind of action going on. To capture the player in the middle of it would be spectacular. A baseball player sliding into home as the catcher catches the ball is such an intense moment and capturing it on your camera really shows what the game is all about. There are also so many of these moments in each game so you have so many opportunities to catch one.

Players are so used to cameras and way too into the game to notice or care that you are even taking their picture. This way you don’t have to worry about a person hiding because they don’t want to be on camera. Players like being caught doing something amazing for the game on camera, too. It proves their greatness. The energy exuded by the crowd and players at games also get you, the photographer, pumped to take some great shots.

2. Wedding receptions.

Weddings are always fun when everybody is dancing and celebrating. Catching people mid-dance move is extremely entertaining. Also, especially if there’s an open bar, people are certainly going to be going crazy on the dance floor. Photos at weddings can be slightly embarrassing because everyone is family now and people cherish the hilarious memories.

Guests are having fun and care-free at weddings so they don’t mind having a photographer snap pictures of them. It’s a given that a bride and groom will have hired a photographer to get everything on camera. It’s boring to have every picture be a posed table shot so it’s good to cover all of the festivities candidly as well.

3. Themed parties.

Who does not love themed parties? Everybody gets all dressed up in whatever silly apparel is required and you are guaranteed a good time. The army-themed, couple- oriented, neon-clad, mask-wearing parties are everybody’s favorite. Every picture will turn out to be interesting solely based on the fact that everyone is in costume. The different attire automatically makes each picture worthwhile.

People are always proud of their costume ideas, especially if they are home-made so they will want it documented. It is so much easier to take candid shots of those who are willing to be photographed so this is the perfect setting. Whether friends are dancing or just standing around and talking, the silliness of their outfits will keep the excitement going. Capturing enthusiasm definitely makes for good pictures so snap away!

So go try out these new venues!

Happy Shooting!

Usefulness of candid shots in publications

Tuan Nguyen, University of Florida junior, serves the ball for his intramural volleyball team in the Southwest Recreation Center.

Oftentimes the best photographs in publications are the ones that are candid. This way, a newspaper is not bombarded with pictures of people looking into the camera and smiling while their hands are folded across their chest. That would not be visually appealing and readers would not even look at the captions to see who the person is. Candid shots keep people interested and reading more. The first thing people notice in the newspaper is the pictures. If a picture and its caption are interesting enough, maybe they will read the article. Maybe.

Robert Winkler describes candid shots perfectly in his Travel & Leisure/Readers Digest article. “The best candid photography shows the medium in its purest terms; an instant of poignant life snatched from oblivion by that magical machine, the camera. No other visual art can lay claim to the reality, the moment in time, the pleasant surprise of a candid photograph. You may catch a person in an awkward position; an unaccustomed slice of life may lie between your frame lines—but this is what it is all about.”

There is so much variety in candid shots that each page of a magazine showing celebrities out and about looks different. Everyone loves candid celebrities; they show how famous people are just like us. The reason for this is because we see them unposed doing normal, daily activities. There is nothing interesting in always seeing people looking their best in stiff, arranged photographs.

Looking at magazines and newspapers today, you can see candid photos everywhere. They keep people reading the publication, offer an exciting moment for people to enjoy, and show an event that people might not have been able to see without the help of a camera. With this in mind, you can see how useful the candid photograph is. I hope you’ll be taking more unposed pictures now!

Happy Shooting!

The benefits of candid photography

OH HAPPY DAY—Catherine Marten, University of Florida sophomore, walks to her car with Nicholas McGarvey, University of Florida first year Med student, while he has a moment of enlightenment in the parking garage.

Seeing as the subject of my blog is “candid photography,” I feel that it is important to start off by explaining what makes this type of photography so special that it warrants such great recognition. As a journalism major specializing in photojournalism and as a photographer employed by a promotions company, I take hundreds of pictures every week. My personal favorites are always the ones that are unposed for and unprepared for. The reasons as to why I prefer candids to posed photos are what I consider to be some of the benefits of candid photography and can be seen in my photograph.

The benefits of candid photography:

1. You can capture action. I mean real action as it’s happening in real time. Not like on a phony photo shoot where models are paid to appear to be having fun while playing beach volleyball. As nice as the advertisements in magazines are, they are not candid moments, but faked moments in a controlled setting. True actions shots are of moments that are actually occuring as you take the picture. These would be the photos of the friends dancing together at a party, of the football star catching the ball in the end zone for a touchdown and of the aftermath of a devastation car crash. You can’t immitate fun, a game-winning catch or an automobile accident. If you capture the candid moment as it happens, however, you have documentaion of the raw, unplanned action of today’s world.

2. You see another side of people. People do one of two things when they see someone pointing a camera in their direction. They either cover their face and look away or look directly at the camera and smile. Candid photographs show both kinds of subjects in a different light. Candid photos of the people who aren’t photogenic won’t make them nervous because they won’t know a picture is being taken. Even if they are only captured in the background of a room, the photo shows that they were there. Otherwise they would’ve been absent from an entire album of portraits because they weren’t comfortable posing. As for everyone else who loves to put on a big grin for the camera, they primp and preen and make sure they look fabulous before showing one side of themselves, the smiling side. What about their empowered side as the give a speech to a room filled with people? What about their competetive side as they cheer for their favorite hockey team in the arena? What about their crafty side as they create art projects with their children? Candid photographs can capture all of these sides when the subject isn’t looking directly at the camera while smiling or making a silly face. People can look stiff in pictures because they tense up when they know they are being photographed, but they appear more natural in candids.

3. You can write better captions. Candid photos often tell a story. They show some action taking place and the captions go into detail about what that is. You can explain that a firefighter is rescuing cat from a tree or that a kid is jumping off of the high dive at a swimming pool. Even a picture of people just standing around can be captioned with why they are there or what they are waiting there for. Posed pictures are often just captioned with names and a location. Captions on candid photos can be meatier with more information to offer to the reader. In my book, meatier means better. Also, candid shots encourage the viewer to read the caption in the first place because he or she wants to know what is happening in them. Your caption serves a purpose and is actually read when accompanying a candid shot.

So with these benfits to consider, it’s obvious why I want to spend so much time discussing them. There are so many possibilities with candids that it’s no wonder I love taking them. I’ll be posting some of my favorite candid pictures that I’ve taken and my adoring fans can feel free to post theirs as well.

Happy Shooting!