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Candid photography and Fuji X-T1

What is meant by candid photography?

Some dictionary definitions:

  • ‘relating to or being photography of subjects acting naturally or spontaneously without being posed’ (Merriam Webster)
  • ‘a candid photograph of someone is natural and informal and is taken without them knowing that they are being photographed’ (http://www.macmillandictionary.com)
  • (Of a photograph of a person) taken informally, especially without the subject’s knowledge: it is better to let the photographer mingle among the guests and take candid shots (http://www.oxforddictionaries.com)

So the main requirement seems to be that the photograph is ‘unposed’. So there could be some intervention on the part of the photographer to set up a scenario for the subjects, but not an instruction to pose; so influence is permissible. Mike Panic, draws a distinction between photojournalism and candid photography, with intervention in the case of the former being at least inappropriate, and even unethical. The recent case of an Hungarian photographer apparently attempting to trip refugees for a shot resulted in the loss of her job and a criminal prosecution (Guardian).

The intervention of the photographer in candid photography, provides an improved chance of a successful shot. For example, sitting with a group of people waiting for them to do something interesting, is less likely to be successful than arranging an activity for their participation and then photographing them.

Meyer discusses setting up a camera ready for candid (or street) photography, and emphasises the need for speed of capture as movement unfolds before the photographer. He suggests using programme mode, with use of programme shift to quickly change shutter speed and aperture, and also recommends continuous focusing mode. For moving subjects, he recommends continuous shooting mode too – something I usually avoid for fear of sorting through a mass of unwanted images.

A way of staying out of people’s personal space (and allowing them to act more naturally) would be to use a long zoom or telephoto lens.

Mat Hart, discusses the setting he uses for his Fuji X-T1 (the camera I use). He mentions the use of auto-ISO, setting a maximum of 6400, which he considers usable and minimum shutter speed of 1/250. I like his use of the tilt-screen to shoot from the waste (‘Vivian Meyeresque’) and therefore not attract the subject’s attention.

How does this apply practically to my Fuji X-T1 and the lenses I own. Some quick thoughts:

  1. Auto-focus area – on Q menu auto-focus area can quickly be changed between scene, centre area, and spot. Focus is quick even under low-light.
  2. Back-button AF-L set to keep focus locked-on. Disables focus with shutter-button until pressed again.
  3. Priority mode – both lens and shutter speed set to ‘A’ gives equivalent to ‘P’ mode on DSLR. Front-dial can then be used quickly to shift programme. Quick shift is useful for candid work.
  4. Exposure modes  – spot / centre / full. Set to lock spot with focus spot. Spot makes big difference to exposure of high-contrast scenes.
  5. ISO – set up for auto for candid shots. Try 6400 max (previously stuck with 3200).
  6. Drive mode – will try out use of continuous low and (maybe) high for candid work. Goes against past practice a little.
  7. Lens – I don’t own a aut0-focus telephoto. So will either have to be quick with my manual Nikor 135mm, stick with getting closer to subjects, or invest in a telephoto / zoom.

My conclusion is to try a very different (for me) set up for candid work, including street photography.


Guardian online  [website] (2015). Hungarian camera operator apologises for kicking refugees. Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/11/something-snapped-hungarian-camera-operator-apologises-kicking-refugees [accessed 8.11.15]

Hart M (2015). Amateur Photographer [website]. Available from: http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/technique/camera_skills/master-your-camera-set-up-your-fujifilm-x-t1-for-street-photography-56451 [accessed 8.11.15]

Meyer J (2013). Digital Camera Word [website]. Available from: http://www.digitalcameraworld.com/2013/07/08/how-to-photograph-anything-best-camera-settings-for-street-photography/ [accessed 8.11.15]

Panic M (2011). Lightstalking.com. A Beginner’s Guide to Candid People Photography. Available from: http://www.lightstalking.com/candid-people-photography/ [accessed 8.11.15]


Kevin Mullins Photography [website]. available from: http://www.kevinmullinsphotography.co.uk/fuji/shooting-weddings-with-a-fuji.html [accessed 8.11.15]

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