Beyond Snapshots: Capture Candid Moments You’ll Treasure

by Kristen Duke

Great candids are something that everyone wants to have in the family album — they’re just surprisingly hard to capture. I think we’ve been trained to expect the subject to look right at the camera and smile every time the camera comes out. I’ve tried to re-program my family and clients to “just be” as I snap pictures to capture the more candid, real moments as well. Sometimes people need a little guidance to be candid so they don’t appear awkward. To help you, I’ve come up with a list of 10 action words that help my subjects have fun.

10 action word prompts to help in candid photography:

  • Jump — Kids love particularly love this one, and adults look kind of funny. You can take the pictures with or without adults, but always take a bunch so you can choose from the best.
  • Dance — Tell couples to take a little twirl. Some look at me funny, but it always provides a great candid shot, even if the couple feels awkward.
  • Kiss — This prompt can be for couple or little kids. A kiss on the cheek is always sweet; I’ll also have partners switch to both give and receive a kiss on the cheek to switch things up and get a better image.
  • Whisper — Kids whispering to each other is one of the cutest shots, always a mystery to the viewer of the photograph.
  • Walk — I have families take a “family walk” in nearly every session I run. Sometimes the family holds hands, but not always. They just need to be instructed to stay close to each other, in a natural grouping.
  • Run — Running always looks fun, especially as some are faster than others. I’ll have the people in the shot run toward me race. To get the best shot, keep the camera on continual shooting.
  • Ride — Riding takes various forms — the people in the session can ride a bike, in a wagon, on shoulders or piggy back.
  • Play — Play is very open. It can be tag, throwing a ball or just running around in circles. Kids don’t have a problem playing, which makes for a great candid shot.
  • Cuddle — I love when moms cuddle their little ones close, resting the child’s head on her shoulder or just talking closely. It makes a very sweet image.
  • Tickle — Most people are ticklish, and having a tickle fight will produce very cute candid images.

The next time you pull out your camera to take some pictures, remember a few of these action words to help your subject relax, have fun and create great candid images.

Photo Credit: Kristen Duke