Say Goodbye to Posed Portraits: How to Take the Perfect Candid Photo

We all know them: the pathological picture-takers of the yearbook committee. There they are, at every pep rally, soccer game, and chess club meeting, lurking in the shadows with their camera in tow, waiting to jump in at the right time. They finagle their way on the sidelines, snapping dozens of perfect photos of highlighted athletes, while the rest are happy just to keep the bleachers warm.

When the yearbook finally comes out, it is filled with the same people over and over again; looking polished and poised. If you did happen to make it into a photo, you’re in the back row of a stiff group shot on the day you ran out of hair gel and spilled Sloppy Joe on your t-shirt.

But the days are gone when you have to settle for Stepford yearbook photos. With the rise of social media like Facebook and Instagram, candids are now the new normal. Pictures no longer have to be on a solid background, perfectly posed, and well lit. In fact, sometimes an artfully blurred photo can be considered a “good” photo.

Now even the most mundane activities – like that bowl of cereal you poured with the just the right amount of milk – is a fun photo you can share with your friends. So grab that Nextel camera phone you’ve been using since the Bush administration, and keep these tips in mind when you’re aiming to take perfect candid yearbook photos.

1. Have your camera ready to shoot. Even if you don’t have a fanciest digital camera on the market, nearly every cell phone developed in the last 10 years has a camera of some sort (and most shoot better pictures than your average digital camera). So keep it handy and get ready to snap some candids whenever and wherever you are.

2. Shoot first, ask questions later. Don’t worry about framing every shot, just shoot people naturally. Keep moving and click fast and often.

3. Use the naked eye. Forget the viewfinder and setting the lens, let your eyes be your guide and keep on snapping!

4. Photograph people actually doing things. There are only so many pictures you can look at of people posing in front of the lockers with their arms locked, and smiling like they’re having their minds erased. Take pictures of a cool chem lab experiment, a competitive PE Ping-Pong match, or students setting up an awesome senior prank.

5. Shoot from the hip. People tend to tense up into a stream of fish-faces and peace signs when they see a camera coming, so take the camera away from your face and shoot when they least expect it.

6. Take it outside. Get away from the typical school setting and sporting event. Go outside and take some fun group photos. The natural light will produce a beautiful, unique setting.

7. Experiment. Use different filters, angles, and settings. You can even incorporate fun props into your photos!

8. Don’t try to be perfect. Sometimes the most memorable yearbook candids are the ones you managed to snap between laughs… at practice… when you tied your friend to the mats with athletic tape… err, I mean the ones you just randomly took.

Even with all these tips, keep in mind that the most perfect candid photos are the most imperfect ones. Whether you capture your bestie squirting milk out of their nose from laughing too hard, or capture the star football player actually missing a pass, candids are an image of real life.

So fill your pages will random, beautiful, funny, perfectly-imperfect candids, because it’s your year, your book, and your time to customize with TreeRing!

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