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Seagull flies past our off-grid camera system at St Andrews Links, Scotland

News Photography: the rise of candid capture

11 October 2016 Daniel Curtis

We take a brief step away from time-lapse photography and look at the use of another unique form of capture.

The use of ‘real-time’ photography is becoming increasingly popular today, as photographers aim to capture ‘pure’ images in both general, everyday moments but also in more formal photographic situations.

We live in a digital age where images are everything. We communicate via and through images, with some of the most successful of visual industries undergoing rapid growth due to the constant exchange of content.

The rise and fall of celebrities, for example, is cultivated by and conducive to this visual culture.

Candid photography, often utilised by paparazzi photographers, sustain and fuel public fascination with celebrities and famous people, documenting the areas of their lives that some may wish to have remained private.

In a more positive light, however, photography of this kind, when utilised in certain situations, can be extremely fruitful in the search for a unique visual narrative.

For special events such as weddings, birthdays and seasonal parties, candid capture allows the photographer to produce a behind-the-scenes representation of the action.

This compliments the more staged modes of photography associated with such formal events, with an increasing amount of wedding photography now incorporating a blend of the two styles in an attempt to capture a fuller narrative of the day.

Capturing images of people doing things also tend to be much more interesting and communicates a more authentic atmosphere than the traditional, tried-and-tested shots.

Images featuring people together also encourage a greater depth of reality and narrative upon viewing the image. Moments of interaction between people convey a sense of the relationships behind the featured subjects, arguably the most important aspect when shooting special occasions like weddings.

The rise in candid photography can perhaps also be linked with the improvement of smartphone camera technology as the ability to shoot spontaneously is at everyone’s fingertips.

Handheld devices have the added benefit of being pocket-sized and multifunctional, perfect for shooting on-the-go without necessarily drawing attention to yourself when capturing the perfect candid shot.

This is perhaps easier to achieve with a smartphone than it is with a DSLR camera, as you lose the ability to remain inconspicuous in a public place.

Some street photographers, for example, have found a significant change in the behaviour of the public when photographing human subjects.

The intention of much street photography, or photography in general, of course, is to offer an insight into the human condition and capture a raw reflection of regular, everyday life.

Such is the prevalence of producing and sharing visual content on-the-go – easily enabled by social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – that it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain discreet when taking a photograph in public.

The subjects can however manipulate certain situations, as the sight of a camera naturally provokes a staged, ‘posed’ reaction and potential ruins the ‘realness’ that candid photography is supposed to provide.

For those who are dedicated to maintaining the magic of candid photography, learning to shoot one-handed, and holding your device at angles not directly in front of you can help you to remain “invisible” when out and about (obviously much easier to achieve using a smartphone than a professional camera, however!)

Despite these added complications, candid photography remains an important photographic mode, becoming increasingly popular at a time when many elements of visual culture are staged and situations are pre-meditated intending to be captured.

Of course, there are still those situations that benefit from thorough planning and professional installations with Ultra High Definition camera systems, particularly projects of larger scale with considerable amounts of money invested.

But even with careful planning candid shots cannot always be avoided, like the time we captured a seagull flying passed one of our time-lapse camera systems…

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Time-Lapse Systems are a part of Hideaway Media Ltd (est. 2007). World leader in the provision of bespoke time-lapse capture and site monitoring solutions. UK and Worldwide.