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You are watching a free tutorial from Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Season 1.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.

You are watching a free tutorial from Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Season 1.
To view the entire course, upgrade to Premium or purchase it in the SLR Lounge Store.


Naturally candid moments occur with planned preparation – ironic, no? Being in the right place at the right time definitely lends itself to capturing magically candid moments of laughter, sorrow, bliss, or trepidation. With just a little bit of guidance, a moment once perceived as choreographed can turn into a deep emotional connection just begging to be captured.

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Photographing family portraits can be tricky when you are dealing with multiple subjects and their respective personalities, however, learning how to manage and improvise to make best of the situation can produce effortlessly candid moments.

Candid Family Portraits

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It can be challenging to direct and pose a group of individuals to genuinely show affection towards each other because for some, it isn’t practiced to display this publicly. The solution to this is to guide your subjects to build context and then watch the emotion develop. Similar to how scenes play out in films, we as audience members are given a certain amount of context and then left to decide how to feel about what we witness.

Set the scene up for the family by placing them in your desired pose and simply prompt them by giving them an action. In the above behind-the-scenes clip from Neel & Supriya’s wedding, we posed Supriya and her parents in the perfect light, controlling both our depth of field by keeping them in the same plane and limiting deep shadows. Here are some tips to keep in mind when interacting with subjects and directing them in order to produce the shot you want:

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1. Act Like the Camera Isn’t There – People instinctively look directly into the lens and smile as soon as they see a camera pointed their way, defeating the purpose of capturing ‘candid’ moments. Preface your portrait session by telling them to ignore you, this sets up the scene with a sense of voyeurism. Using a Telephoto lens or a 50-85 Prime will allow you the ability to capture these moments as they unfold without interrupting the subjects.
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2. Create a story – Warm moments between family members are sometimes so difficult to come but are easy to formulate with the help of a little emotional extraction.Guilelessly telling your subjects to look at each other and laugh can create visible tension. Create a scenario or prompt that will allow subjects to naturally interact with one another and emotionally connect without having to worry about.
Image by Lin and Jirsa Photography (www.linandjirsa.com)

3. Keep it Intimate – Always keep in mind to pose family members close to each other, not leaving any gaps between bodies. You want your couple and their family to look back at these images and sense the warmth from the image – this can easily be conveyed with attention to detail, a little bit of guidance.

Candid Couples Portraits

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Sure, you could be one of those photographers that is naturally a comedian and has jokes ready in your back pocket for the opportune moment – but let’s be frank, that isn’t the majority of us. With all the other factors that come into play during the day of a wedding, the last thing you want to be focusing on is whether your knock-knock joke will be a home run or not. For this reason, focus on interacting with your couple and getting them to naturally interact with each other.

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Posed photography can come off stale when you have subjects constantly looking either at the camera or at each other. Request your Groom to whisper something mildly (or wildly) inappropriate in his Bride’s ear, maybe even tickle her to get a genuine reaction; this is your chance to be creative and put your communication skills to the test.

As photographers we serve as journalists, documenting life in real time, using our images to tell the tales of those we photograph. There are moments, however, where we get to play the puppeteer – using our brilliant creativity to evoke emotions from our subjects and help narrate their stories.

This has been an exclusive look behind-the-scenes of Neel & Supriya’s wedding from our Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Workshop.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Swapnil Rathi

    Hallo PYE…Which lens should i use for candid shots….as the area of rituals of hindu wedding is small. please suggest

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  2. Vivek Krishnan

    Such an amazing photography :) keep going..

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  3. Fahad Hassan

    Amazing . :)

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  4. Paul Wynn

    Beautiful images as always. I was explaining to a new wedding client this morning, that sometimes we have to ‘encourage’ the candid moments. Love the group shot!

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Unscripted | Photo Shoot BTS Season 1