Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Candid vs. Posed

Published in the South Shore Breaker - June 8, 2016

We've probably all had that moment when we're doing something and a family member with a camera has said " that again" so they can get a photo. The spontaneous moment has come and gone, and we have to recreate the scene so the photographer can capture it with their camera.

Or there's the group photo moment when the photographer shouts out for everyone to gather together for one photo. I am guilty of this big time. I'm sure I drive my family crazy with this tradition. Well, not only my family, because I always insist on this when our photo club is on field trip outings as well. I offer up my apologies, but I am unrepentant and will continue to do this. Some traditions shouldn't be changed.

Aside from regular daily life things, we all have those big moments in our lives that need to be captured. Birthdays, weddings, new babies, anniversaries, family vacations, and at this time of year...graduations. There is a great debate in our house. Which is better? Posed portraits or spontaneous candid photos? My husband likes to fire off a series of photos of people just doing their thing. I like to pose people and have them look at the camera and smile. There is no right or wrong way to capture the big moment, but I am glad that our household covers both ways because the results are very different, and both are important for family memories.

Coke may own the tagline "it's the real thing", but candid photos are the real thing when it comes to recording how we actually live. They capture the moment and our homes as they really are. Clutter on the tables, food and drinks, the clothing we wear - all the small details that we would forget over time. Anyone who looks at old photo albums will know that half the fun is looking at the hair styles, fashions and decorating styles of times gone by. We see details that we forgot over time....a shirt, or a toy, or even a person that we wouldn't remember without the visual aid of a photograph. Looking at those old photos brings lots of laughter, and sometimes a wistful melancholy for the way things used to be.
John took his favourite "candid" type of photo while Sara was trying to set up the dogs for a portrait at Beach Meadows Beach
But I think we also need to have some "on purpose" photographs of our special times. Photos where people are looking at the camera, photos that show off our pretty smiles and shiny new clothes without distractions in the background. The trick is to capture those posed photos and still make it look natural. You can capture nice portraits even with a point and shoot style camera and without fancy equipment. Keep it simple. Keep your foregrounds and backgrounds uncluttered and work with natural light if you can. Focus on the eyes. Even if other parts of the photo are slightly blurred, a sharp eye will make the portrait. Most important of all, try to capture a genuine smile or emotion. A cheesy smile will not connect with the viewer.

We took a drive down to Beach Meadows a couple of weeks ago. It definitely wasn't a watershed moment in our lives, but it was a fantastic day and a glorious walk on the beach with our dogs. Moments to remember. I am the photographer in the family, which usually means that we have photos of everything and everyone but me. Sometimes I hand the camera to the better half of our family so I won't totally be forgotten in our yearly photo books. He takes many, many of his favoured candid style photos, but he also takes a few of my favourite...the posed portrait. We all know that a happy wife means a happy life!  

John humours me by taking my favourite type of photo...the posed portrait!
The two types of photo tell two different stories. Which style of family photo do you prefer to focus on?


  1. Hard to choose, but I think I prefer candid. When I see a candid picture that I'm in, my first thought is what was being done or said at the exact moment. So I think there's maybe a bit more of a story that goes along with a candid photo.

  2. I love the idea of candid shots but few that I've taken turn out as I'd hoped. I think I've had better luck with posed and hence prefer them.

    I do like both your photos and would be hard pressed to choose a favourite.


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