I promote myself as a candid photographer, specializing in emotional moments. But with the ever-evolving English language, the word “candid” could theoretically mean different things to different people. So what exactly is “candid photography?”
According to wikipedia—the height of information and knowledge in the Internet age—a candid photograph is one that’s made without the subject’s knowledge or permission.
Sounds kinda creepy when you say it that way.
So what exactly is “candid photography”, according to Patrick Pope?
My personal belief is that candid photography relies on immersion and quiet observation to capture subjects naturally, revealing true emotions and reactions. Instead of posing subjects, or stopping the action to snap a stiff, stare-at-the-camera-and-smile image, I silently observe the scene and capture honest moments. A laugh before the walk down the aisle, a quiet moment of reflection, a quick cry as a flood of emotions overwhelms the bride’s mother. I capture real moments, not staged poses. In the end these are the images that will conjure memories faster and more powerfully than all the posed “say-cheese” images in the world.
The focus is on emotion and story, not technical perfection. A tie may be crooked or a few hairs may fall across the face, yet this in no way diminishes from the strength of the emotional story the photo conveys.
My own philosophy is perfectly summed up by wedding great, Joe Bussink when he says “There is no such thing as a perfect image, only a perfect moment.” The eternal chase for technical perfection will always end in disappointment because it simply doesn’t exist. But photographs of real emotions and real moments… they tell their story despite their “flaws.”
Now, don’t assume that I’m saying a candid photographer can spew out photographic sewage and justify it as “candid.” Not at all! A strong photograph still requires a solid technical foundation of adequate exposure, composition, and focus. What I am saying is: assuming a certain level of technical competence, the story and emotion is far more important than studio perfection. A crooked tie here, a few stray hairs there do not detract from the emotion.
When hiring a photographer to document your wedding, it is important to understand the kind of work they produce and select someone who creates the kind of photography you’re looking for. If emotions and real moments are your priority then a candid photographer is a great choice. But if your priority is having fashion magazine perfect photos then you really don’t want a candid photographer.