Spontaneous Smiles: Where to Capture Amazing Candid Photos Around Campus

candid photos

Capturing student life in your yearbook is likely one of your main goals as the leader of the project. After all, that’s why you’ve spent so much time finding the best ways to photograph all of the events happening around campus! And while the big events like school dances and graduation are very important parts of the year to include in your publication, they don’t capture all of the things that go on around campus. What I’m talking about is finding a way to grab pictures of day-to-day campus life—which can be done very easily with the age-old candid picture.

Candids are great for yearbooks because they show a more fluid side of student life. When candids are taken in the moment, instead of being posed, they are more engaging and help you tell a better story—especially when you use them in combination with planned photos taken throughout the year. To help you find the best spots to grab the pictures, and celebrate what actually goes on every day at your school, I’ve listed out my favorite candid moments that you can capture!


Capturing candid photos can be a great way to get a glimpse into daily student life.
Photo Credit: Flickr user gareth1953 the original

The Morning Hallway

I remember the early mornings before that first class started—which usually involved hanging around the hallways of our high school campus before teachers hurried us along to class, five minutes before the bell rang. Those quick, caffeine-filled interactions were a lot of fun, and grabbing some candid photos of moments like these are a great way to encapsulate what really makes up daily student life!

You certainly don’t need to send a photo stalker around campus every day. Just try capturing some great shots as the school year progresses. It will give you a range of pictures to choose from for your spread, and grabbing them regularly throughout the year ensures you’ll get some engaging, varied candids.

The Cafeteria

Staking out a place where every student ends up at during the school day is a lot easier than you might think—just post up in the cafeteria over the lunch hour! You’re sure to snap some great candid photos of the whole student body. Because it’s a natural break in the middle of the day when students can freely socialize, you’re also more likely to get candids showing lots of smiles and camaraderie amongst friends and peers. The cafeteria also has a high potential for photo-worthy moments because anything can happen over the lunch hour—a food fight, a spur of the moment choir performance, student groups promoting upcoming events, etc. So remember to tell your student team always to have that camera ready when they sit down for lunch.

After School Practice

Even when it comes to extracurricular sports and clubs, not all of the fun happens during scheduled events. In fact, if you’re not grabbing some candid photos during after-school practices, you’re missing out on a lot of behind-the-scenes action prior to a big debate or kickline competition! Getting out and interacting with different groups and clubs when they’re in practice mode can lead to lots of laid-back, fun photos. It will also allow you to glimpse how students prep themselves before the big meet. So get out that camera and start grabbing some “practice” candid photos—you never know when you’ll get the shot of the yearbook, or some great inspiration for a fun new spread!

Using Candid Photos

Now that you’ve got all these great candid photos, where should you start to use them? Well, that depends on your best pictures! Candids make for great filler pages between your sections. They’re a smart way to break up content between different topics and groups that you’re planning to feature. You can also use your candid shots to tell a story. What did the football team do between games to make it to the state tournament? How did your DECA squad develop their strategic plan of attack for this year’s competition? How did the homecoming committee plan this year’s big dance?

How you use your candid yearbook photos is completely up to you. The key is to grab some awesome spontaneous shots that supplement a lot of the posed content you’re already preparing for this year’s spread. I guarantee it will help take your yearbook up a notch this year!