Shooting Challenge: Candid Camera

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Capturing a photo of your friends or family, squared to the camera a la red rover or prom shot, dominates most of our personal visual histories. But for this week's Shooting Challenge, let's do better.


The Challenge

Capture a candid photograph of anyone(s) you know—a moment, an earnest reaction, gesture or interaction, frozen in time.

The Method

A good candid can't be forced. And it inherently can't be posed. It's about blending into the background, observing and striking at just the right moment (or maybe, considering the microsecond delay of your camera, that's really the moment just before the right moment).

Beyond that, read this tutorial and this tutorial. The tips differ but the principles are the same: do what you need to in terms of opening the aperture and cranking ISOs, but be ready to capture nuanced movement in unideal lighting situations with sharpness (unless you want that American Apparel look, don't even think about a flash). Burst mode long as your machine gun photography doesn't alert your subject.

The Rules - READ THESE

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos need to be taken the week of the contest. (No portfolio linking or it spoils the "challenge" part.)
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 800px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. (The 800px image is the one judged, so feel free to crop/alter the larger image for wallpaper-sized dimensions.)
6. One submission per person.


Send your best entries by Sunday, June 20th at 11PM Eastern to with "Candid" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameCandid.jpg (800px) and FirstnameLastnameCandidWallpaper.jpg (2560px) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

[Lead shot: Gizmodo dinner at E3 taken by camera ninja Jason Chen. From back to front, Joel studies a menu aside Lux from Fleshbot. Rosa and I chat, my hand a blur. Then you can make out John, Kyle and Matt on the right, and a big, kind listener mugshot from Adam. The glorious, shampoo commercial mane in the foreground? I believe that belongs to Brian Barrett. And yeah, I washed out the color in post because I thought it looked cool.]


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This is much harder than it sounds. I'm always a millisecond to late.

Bonus points for anyone who wins with a camera phone.