Why I Don’t Shoot “Candids”

At local events, I begin by photographing people I know. This helps me check my settings and it gets other people used to the idea that a photographer is roaming the premises. If my friends happen to be beautiful women, all the better.

Although I always try to accommodate client requests, I don’t do event “candids” for two reasons: 1) I don’t enjoy photographing people without their knowledge or consent – especially with a flash, and 2) No one looks good eating, except perhaps Penelope Cruz, and I’ve yet to photograph an event at which she was an attendee. Besides, what the client really wants are pictures of happy people having fun at the event, so that’s what I try to provide.

No one wants his or her picture taken with half an hors d'oeuvres in hand or mouth. Especially the ones in the foreground.

Sometimes a candid moment works, so I do stay alert for the opportunity. But I never try to be sneaky - I make eye contact and give a big grin before I shoot. Fortunately, I think I have a contagious smile.

It makes more sense to me to announce that I want to take a picture, let people straighten their hair, clothes, or posture, and capture a smiling, happy group.

Techno-Fun: Last year I shot this same event, and I worked the reception with the same camera, lens, and flash. One difference this year is that I chose to use the Nikon SB-800 diffuser dome instead of the Gary Fong Lightsphere. Although I am satisfied with the results, I do prefer the greater diffusion of the Lightsphere. It’s a subtle difference, but I think the SB-800 diffuser dome produces harsher hot spots. On the other hand, it’s a lot easier to work a crowded room with the tiny diffuser dome than with the massive Lightsphere. What will I do next year? Agonize over the decision for days and then go with the Lightsphere. I don’t mind being uncomfortable if I can get a slightly better image.

Next time on Camera Club Confidential: Applying what I learned last year to get better performance shots this year. And why someone needs to invent an invisible microphone.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Camera Settings, Lighting

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