Nick Biggs

10 Simple Tips for Taking Fantastic Candid Photos

A good candid photo can look fantastic. The aim of such photography is to capture the subject in their natural state. For many people, as soon as they see the camera on the, or have to pose for a picture, they freeze up. Their dazzling smile becomes a rictus, and their calm composure is exchanged for a manic and wide-eyed stare. Candid shots can show true personality in a person, bringing to the fore their best features and very essence. However, it’s not an easy method of photography to master.

 

When trying to capture your subject’s natural grace, it’s easy to be too obvious, or use the wrong camera settings, leading you to miss the perfect moment you’ve waited for. In this article, we’ll take a look at some easy tips you can implement to take better candid photos of the people you care about. Some may seem obvious, but many amateur photographers fail to consider them.

 

1. Carry Your Camera Everywhere – And Use It

This should be the number one rule for aspiring photographers, no matter what type of pictures you’re trying to take. You shouldn’t ever find yourself thinking, ‘I wish I had my camera right now.’ It should be in your hand or by your side whenever the situation allows. By doing so, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to use it. Don’t be scared to take the lens cap off and start shooting either. You may think that there isn’t an awe-inspiring shot in front of you, but you’ll be surprised just how much you miss with only a quick glance.

 

Carry your camera everywhere. The more people are used to seeing you with it, the more you blend in.

 

For candid shots, you’ll want your friends and family to be used to you having your camera out. If you only turn it on and start snapping away when you want a picture of someone specific, people will immediately notice. The more you use it, the more relaxed people will be around you.

 

2. Make Use of Natural and Ambient Light

The second most important aspect of photography is light. It will determine how your images turn out, and it can be a tricky and fickle beast. If there’s too much, you risk overexposing your subject. Too little, on the other hand, can mean your shots come out blurry. The temptation for newcomers to photography is to use the flash to compensate for poor lighting. However, this can absolutely ruin a candid shot if used incorrectly. Not only is it a total giveaway of what you’re doing, but it can bounce off the surroundings, create a red-eye effect, and completely wash out your portrait. Turn off the flash and use natural and ambient lighting instead.

 

Candid photography often means you’ll have to use any available lighting.

 

Going without a flash means you’ll have to rely on your camera’s settings more. You’ll need to choose a wider aperture and higher ISO. Look for light sources that illuminate your subject, but make sure they’re not backlit and that the contrast is acceptable.

  

3. Choose a Zoom Lens

In the point above, we mentioned how vital it is not to be too obvious. The choice of a zoom lens can really help with this. Prime lenses are often the choice for professional portrait photographers, due to their usually wide maximum aperture and shallow depth of field. It’s possible to create a nice soft background blur with them. However, they also require the photographer to be close to the subject. For candid shots, this isn’t always possible. A zoom lens gives you some distance from your mark, which means you can better manoeuvre to get a good angle. They’re less likely to notice you and more likely to be at ease. If you’re photographing a party, it means you can move around with far more freedom.

 

A zoom lens means you can get a close-up of your subject without being physically near them.

 

4. Use Burst Mode

It’s rare that your first attempt at getting a candid picture of someone will be as good as it possibly can be. When you’re waiting for a subject that doesn’t know they’re supposed to be looking fabulous, it’s highly likely you’ll catch them at a bad moment. To remedy this, try selecting the burst mode on your camera. This will allow you to shoot a series of photographs over a few moments, which increases your chances of securing a good one. It’s also an excellent mode for capturing a target that’s moving; it will reduce blur and can create a fantastic collage of candid goodness.

 

Using burst mode is a great way of capturing a subject that is on the move.

 

5. Make it Interesting

Again, this goes without saying in photography. Your pictures should tell a story or make a point, and your candid photos should show a person at their natural best. You want your pictures to be evocative and attention-grabbing. There are many ways you can do so. Composition is one; your subject should be the focus of the attention, but that doesn’t mean they have to be at the centre of the picture on a flat plane. Use the environment and other people to frame them or contrast with them.

 

Try to add as many interesting or evocative elements as possible to your image. Think about composition.

 

Composition isn’t always easy, and the ‘rules’ are meant to be broken. It can be hard to perfectly frame your shot without your subject noticing, but try to capture as many eye-catching elements as you can.

 

6. Be Subtle

Many of the tips we’ve covered so far encompass this point. Quite often, a few moments after your subject realises what you’re doing, the game is up. The moment will pass, and for a while at least they’ll be on guard waiting for you. As we mentioned, try to avoid using a flash or getting too up-close and personal with your subject. Try to capture them when their attention is focused on something else. They may be deep in conversation, laughing along with everyone, or lost in deep thought.

 

It’s not always easy to capture great moments, so try to be discreet.

 

Try shooting from the hip, or shoot while directing your attention towards something else. It can be hard to get a great shot this way, but it’s an effective means of not being obvious.

 

7. Be Patient

Good things come to those who wait, and so do good photographs. Because you can’t control the situation in front of you, you’ll have to wait until the perfect conditions arise. This quite often means you’ll have to observe your surroundings and anticipate what’s going to happen. When doing so, ensure that you get a few practice shots in. You can make adjustments to your camera’s settings while you wait, and ensure that you get it right when the perfect shot comes along.

 

It sometimes takes a while for the perfect moment to come along. Be patient!

 

The more you rush and charge about trying to get the right angle and lighting, the more likely you are to make everyone aware of what you’re trying to do.

 

8. Change Perspectives

If you’re at your subject’s eye-level, you’re highly likely to be noticed pointing your camera at them. If you’re to the side or behind them, you risk missing out on some great shots. To get the best of both worlds, try changing up your perspective. If you can get above the action, you’re far more likely to be able to pull off a good candid shot (although you’ll need a zoom lens to do so). Similarly, if you’re lower down or shooting from the hip, you may get a unique take on the situation that ends up looking fantastic.

 

Try capturing your candid shots from a different angle or perspective.

 

9. Shoot First, Edit Later

We’ve already mentioned how unlikely it is that you’ll get an amazing photograph at the first time of asking. Although this shouldn’t dissuade you from trying, don’t forget that you can always go back and edit your pictures afterward. It’s possible to use software such as Adobe Lightroom to bring out the best in your images. You should, therefore, focus on taking plenty of photos while you can, and making small adjustments as you go.

 

You’ll often need to put some effort into post-production to get the most from your pictures.

 

For the best results in post-production, shoot in RAW format. Your camera automatically processes JPEG files, but RAW files hold a lot more information, making it easier to improve them.

 

10. Practice

Ultimately, candid photography is an art form that takes a lot of practice. You will want to try out as many of these tips as possible in order to find out what works for you and what you need to improve on. Try using a range of different equipment, lenses, and camera settings until you’re familiar with how certain elements impact the situation. As we covered in our first point, you should aim to take as many photos as possible. The more you take, the better you’ll understand what you need to do to improve.

 

Practice really does make perfect.

 

Final Thoughts

The tips we’ve covered in this article can all be implemented with relative ease. Once you’re aware of the elements that can affect your photographs and method of shooting, it’s easier to make positive changes. Try adding a few of these each time you set out to take candid photos, and before long you’ll be capturing some fantastic moments for the important people in your life.

How To Plan A Party That Doesn’t Suck

How To Plan A Party That Doesn’t Suck  

So you’ve decided to host a killer party. You’re excited and start to think about everything you need to plan. Then the panic starts to set in. Where do you start? How do you begin to plan everything?

 

We’ve got you covered. This post is going to take you through how to plan a party that doesn’t suck. You’ll get the ultimate party planning checklist with everything you need to do in order of priority, as well as some awesome theme ideas and decorating tips.

 

So you can host an awesome party that your guests will be talking about for years to come!

 

The Party Planning Checklist

I’m a big believer in planning well in advance. The more you can organise ahead of time, the less stress you’ll have to deal with leading up to your party.

 

So, here’s the ultimate party planning list and timeline to help you get organised!

 

1 Month In Advance

Decide on Your Budget

First thing’s first, decide on your budget. Parties can easily end up costing a fortune if you don’t plan out what you’re willing to spend. This will also make it much easier to choose a venue, menu and guest list according to your budget.

 

Pick a Date and Location

Yep, picking a date and location is high on the to-list. You need to get a venue booked well in advance so you can get a date sorted and give your guests plenty of time to prepare. Don’t forget that you are going to need somewhere big enough to hold all of your guests.

 

Write the Guest List

No party is a party without some guests. The last thing you want is to hold a party and be the only one there. So make sure you invite all your friends and they will fit into your venue. Remember, around 80% of your invitees will attend, so don’t be afraid to max out your guest list.

 

Decide on a Theme

Normal parties are so last year. Come up with a cool theme, get everyone dressed up and give everyone a night they won’t forget. Besides, everyone loves to dress up and have a good time.

 

Send the Invitations

Even if you have a bustling guest list, a killer venue and an awesome theme, if you don’t send the invitations, how are your guests going to know where and when this radical gathering will take place? Remember to send the invites. This is paramount! And make sure the invites are themed to give your guests a real feel of what the party will be like.

Stuff to include on your invites:

  • Date/Time
  • Location
  • Theme/Dress Code
  • BYOB or Bar
  • How to RSVP

 

Plan the Menu

If you’re having a party, you’re going to want to feed your guests. This is something that can be tailored to your theme as well to make an extra cool statement and be something your friends talk about for a long time. Make sure you plan enough food to feed the number of guests you’re inviting. If you’re going to hire a caterer, find and hire them now.

 

Buy and Organise Your Cooking & Serving Equipment

If you’re catering for a fairly large guest list you may need to think about how you are going to serve the food and if it’s hot food, how you are going to keep it that way. You can hire out serving platters and other equipment to save buying them outright.

 

Buy Enough Cleaning Supplies for Before and After the Party

Every great party has to come to an end, and unless you are planning to hire a cleanup crew, you’re going to have to clean up after yourself. So make sure you have plenty of supplies and bin liners too.

 

Not only this, you don’t want your party taking place somewhere dirty as this will bring down the whole event. So if you aren’t renting out a venue, maybe spruce up your place before you have guests over.

 

Create a Playlist

No party would be a party without a killer soundtrack, and you probably don’t want to spend all night DJing, so make an awesome playlist to set and forget. Tailor it to your theme and let it play while you relax and enjoy the party too.

 

Buy Your Decorations

Particularly if you are having a theme party, you are going to need decorations. And even if it’s not themed you might still want to buy yourself some decorations to spice up the party. Don’t forget about the clean up though, so don’t go overboard on the tiny confetti – you’ll thank me later.

 

There are some awesome companies online that sell themed decoration packs which are a cheap and easy way to deck out a party. But if you have the budget, consider investing in a larger item like a photobooth or bar to give your party that wow factor.  

 

Hire Your Help

You may not want to take on all the responsibilities of the party on your own. You may want to hire a bartender or a caterer or even someone to clean up after. So if you do make sure that you have them in place and have factored them into your budget.

 

2 Weeks In Advance

  1. Cook everything that can be frozen and store it in the freezer
  2. If you’re doing potluck, delegate different dishes to your guests
  3. Stock up on all non-perishables
  4. Get the drinks in (an important to-do item for any party)
  5. Set up your serving table as a trial run to make sure you’ve got enough cutlery and other tools
  6. Check to make sure any outside help is organised and ready to go

 

1 Week Before

  1. Follow up with guests who haven’t RSVP’d to make sure they’re not attending
  2. Make any recipes that will keep for a week
  3. Make loads of space in your fridge for food
  4. Purchase any last minute food, supplies, and cleaning products you need
  5. Order fresh flowers if needed
  6. Warn the neighbours – it’s the nice thing to do!

 

1-2 Days Before

  1. Purchase all perishable items such as salads, veggies etc.
  2. Set up the food area and tables
  3. Decorate!
  4. Pick up your fresh flowers
  5. Cook all remaining food and put frozen food in the fridge to defrost

 

On The Day

  1. Put food out
  2. Pour drinks
  3. Fix any last decorations and table placements
  4. Set up your playlist to play on guest arrival
  5. Welcome your guests!

 

Top 10 Party Themes

Las Vegas

 

 

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas! From roulette tables to extravagant feather decorations, this theme will make your party one to remember.

 

Deck your party out with casino tables, extravagant feathers and flowers. Serve cocktails and delicious american-style finger food to add to the theme.

 

This theme also gives your guests so many outfit options. From tourists to posh casino-goers, all the way to show girls!

  • Dress Code: Tourists, Casino Dealers, Show Girls/Boys, Vegas Celebrities
  • Menu: American Style Buffet
  • Must-Have Decoration: Roulette or Blackjack Table

 

Unicorn

 

 

This on-trend theme will be a hit with your guests. And it’s an easy theme to pull off – stick to rainbow colours and glitter and you can’t go wrong.

 

Because this is such a popular trend right now there are some great ways to make your unicorn party memorable.

 

Awesome temporary glitter tattoos add a unique touch, and you can even get unicorn drinks mixer to make the drinks sparkle.

  • Dress Code: Rainbow and Glitter
  • Menu: Candy, Cupcakes, and all things colourful
  • Must-Have Decoration: Giant Blow Up Unicorn

 

Masquerade Ball

 

 

If you want your party to have a more elegant theme, this one is a great choice. And who doesn’t love the mystery and luxury of a masquerade ball?

 

Decorate with glitter, feathers and crystal to give that feeling of being at a ball. And don’t forget to serve up champagne or prosecco to give it that luxury touch.

  • Dress Code: Black Tie
  • Menu: A sophisticated selection of horderves
  • Must-Have Decoration: Masquerade Mask Centerpiece

 

Red Carpet

 

 

Turn your guests into celebrities for the evening with a red carpet theme party. There aren’t many occasions where we get to dress up in tuxedos and ball gowns, so this party is something different.

 

To really go all out with the red carpet theme, you can even hire fake paparazzi to snap pictures of your guests as they arrive. This London-based company has professional photographers that dress up as paparazzi to make your guests feel like celebrities as they enter the party.

 

The paps will stay for two hours snapping pics and you’ll get the opportunity to purchase the professional quality pictures after the party. Did I mention they also have the option of hiring an awesome photo booth for your party? Talk about making your red carpet event come to life!

  • Dress Code: Red Carpet (duh)
  • Menu: Hollywood Style Buffet
  • Must-Have Decoration: Fake Paparazzi

 

Black and White

If the idea of arranging a theme for your party seems like too much hard work, a color theme might be the perfect option for you.

 

It’s easy – make everything black and white!

 

A black and white dress code really makes it easy to put on a show and it means that people will be able to dress up or down depending on how they feel. Striped suit – perfect, tuxedo – tick, white top with black trousers – yes, white bed sheet – why not? It’s simple and everyone will love it.

  • Dress Code: Can you guess?
  • Menu: Licorice and whipped cream. Just kidding, any food will work with a color theme. Oreos would make a great crowd pleaser though.
  • Must-Have Decoration: A Zebra. Or maybe something less illegal.

 

Peaky Blinders

This is a huge trend right now and makes a great, unique party theme.

 

There are bars in every city that are having these themed nights and they are making a killing. So why not jump on the bandwagon and have an amazing time and really wow your guests with this excellent theme idea.

  • Dress Code: Flat caps and tweed jackets
  • Menu: This one is going to likely be more about the booze than the food. But maybe some pies or hog roast, something that really shows off the mid-English cuisine.
  • Must-Have Decoration: Barrel tables add a cool, rustic touch

 

70s/80s/90s/00s

 

 

Who doesn’t love a decade themed party? The decade you choose will likely depend on the age bracket of your guest list – but all of them work great.

 

For maximum effect, aiming the decade at the age of your guest list for maximum nostalgia is the way to go. In addition, every party shop sells costumes aimed at these sort of themed parties, so even if your guests don’t have any remnants left, they can still come suited and booted.

  • Dress Code: Anything from the decade! You can even host a mini competition for the best costume
  • Menu: This might depend on the era you choose, but there are loads of great ideas for foods that will take people back to another decade.
  • Must-Have Decoration: A karaoke machine for belting out those all-time favourites from your chosen decade

 

Hunt or Be Hunted

This is a quirky theme that’s a little different. Decorate your party like the jungle, and guests choose to come as the animals or the hunters! Go crazy with camouflage, plants and animal motif to make this theme truly come alive.

  • Dress Code: Hunter or Jungle Animal
  • Menu: BBQ works great with this theme (but don’t forget about your veggie guests)
  • Must-Have Decoration: Camouflage face paint to add a little fun

 

Neon

This might come up in one of the era themes as well, but just having a neon themed party can be really fun. Whether it’s a hardcore rave or bright socks and necklaces, everyone will have fun.

 

There are also loads of cool coloured paints that you can put on your face and clothes to really make the night pop. This theme works great in an outdoor venue with neon lights all around.  

  • Dress code: Another one you’ll need to really think about… Obviously it’s neon.
  • Menu: There are no real neon foods but you can get plenty of food dyes to make some interesting coloured foods. Maybe cupcakes with neon frosting.
  • Must-have Decoration: U.V lighting to really make the neon glow.

 

Marvel

 

 

With Avengers Infinity War ripping the marvel universe apart, there have never been more characters to dress up as. Everyone will love playing their favourite heroes or villains, and there are plenty of places to get costumes to really act the part.

 

This is also a great theme to have if you have a lot of kids going to the party. While many themes don’t really cater for the young ones, this really does. So it’s a great idea for a big family gathering as well as a fun get together.

  • Dress code: Marvel character or villain
  • Menu: There are already several food kinds of stuff that have Marvel characters on them, but it easy to colour code food to the superheroes.
  • Must-have Decoration. Either a talking Thor hammer or Hulk fists will go down like a storm

 

Decorating Like A Pro

What makes a party truly amazing is the decorations. Getting the decor right will make or break your party and we want to help you get it spot on!

 

Photo Booth

Who doesn’t love taking party selfies? But the dim lighting can often mean pictures come out blurry or poorly lit. Not the momentos your guests will want!

 

Hiring a professional photo booth is a must-have that fits any party theme that gives a real modern touch.

 

Open Photo Booth is an awesome company that provide professional, high-quality photo booths for any occasion. They come with a free box of props (because if you can’t take a photo with a horse head or giant sunglasses, is it really a party?) and each photo booth comes with a professional photographer, so you can be sure your pictures will be fantastic.

 

Your guests will love this feature, and there will definitely be a queue!

 

Lighting

This is often the most overlooked aspect of decorating, but one of the most important. The lighting sets the mood of your party, and will help bring a theme together.

 

If you’re hosting an outdoor party, think about adding tons of string lights around the outskirts of the venue. This adds a beautiful high-end touch that goes well with most themes.

 

Try and match your lighting with your party theme to keep it cohesive. If you’re going with a 60s theme, glow sticks and neon signs are a great touch.

 

If you’re going with a red carpet theme, you could go with some cool hollywood lettering that lights up to match your paparazzi flashing cameras.

 

Balloons

Adding balloons is a great way to give your party that professional touch. If you’ve got the budget, invest in some professional balloon arrangements to take your decorations to the next level.

 

A balloon arch that matches your colour scheme is a great way to welcome your guests.

 

But if you’re sticking to a lower budget, there are some easy ways to make balloons match your theme and look awesome:

  • Adding black netting over the top of large balloons gives a sleek look that will match a black and white theme.
  • Dip them in glue and glitter to give an instant unicorn theme.
  • Add splashes of gold paint to black balloons to give a luxurious finish to your masquerade theme.

 

With balloons, more is better. So if you have a low budget, head to a dollar store and stock up on as many packets of balloons as possible. You can then arrange them yourself around the venue.

 

Flowers

Fresh flowers are another finishing touch that many party planners often forget about. But these make a party feel high-end.

 

Head to your local flower store 2 weeks before your party to order some arrangements for your party. Make sure to tell the florist your theme and they’ll be able to create some beautiful centerpieces for your shindig.

 

The Dinner Party Centerpiece

 

 

Speaking of centerpieces, these are a great way to keep a party theme cohesive and interesting.

 

Find 2-3 objects that represent your theme perfectly, and create your own centerpieces for each table.

 

For example, if you’re going with a Las Vegas theme, you could decorate your tables with large feathers, playing cards and poker chips.

 

If you don’t feel creative enough to go down the DIY route, you can also hire centerpieces for your party to give it that sleek finish.

Have Fun With It

Planning a party that doesn’t suck doesn’t have to be stressful. Remember, it’s a party – so have fun with it! Get creative and give your guests a night they won’t forget!