candid photography vs traditional photography

Candid Photography vs Traditional Photography – What are the Differences?

We are all aware of just how fascinating photography can be and the best part is that for those who are trying to get into it, there are a lot of good things that you can easily get out of photography. The best part is that if you know what sort of pictures you are taking, you will be all set before you even know it. However, as photographers, we love to debate about various photography styles.

Candid photographer with lightweight equipment capturing spontaneous moments

One of the most common debates that we see revolves around candid photography vs traditional photography and the questions that people have been going through when it comes to such photography type. Sure, you might not be able to have difficulties finding the answers, but a lot of people do.

That is why, in this guide, we are going to uncover the debate behind candid photography vs traditional photography and see how deep the differences run. Let’s not waste time and have a look.

Candid Photography vs Traditional Photography

What is Candid Photography?

The first thing that most people need to know is what candid photography is. Now, in hindsight, the definition is rather easy to understand but this is something that people need to understand before they go ahead.

Candid capture of a street musician engrossed in playing his violin

Now, a lot of people do not know but wedding photography is one form that falls both between candid and traditional photography. Sure, you do get traditional wedding photography, as well. Wedding photographers in general do not really prefer doing both separately. After all, the style of photography is very important.

Benefits of Candid Photography

Candid photography is a term used for a genre of photography that is known for having captures that are spontaneous, genuine, and unposed moments.

Wedding photographers discussing their work blending the art of candid and traditional photography

Although you might end up photographing the subject with or without their knowledge, you need to make sure that the camera does not instill the thought in their mind that they are being photographed. While I do understand that candid photography might be not the preferred style of photography for everyone, it certainly makes a lot of difference.

The benefit here is that with candid photography, you are truly able to capture the moment, the real emotions of the subject, and the genuineness of their face and their body language. Speaking of candid photography, another great thing is that unlike traditional photographers, candid wedding photographers only rely on lighter, easier to carry equipment, making it very easy for them to take photos.

Complications in Candid Photography

However, if it was not already apparent, it is also important to understand that candid photography can be complicated in a way that a lot of the time, you have to trust a number of things and there are a lot of nooks and crannies that can also go wrong, in the process. 

Candid photography is certainly the trickier one when it comes to candid photography vs traditional photography but it is also safe to say that it is the one that looks the best in all circumstances.

candid sample photo

What is Traditional Photography?

Traditional photography is the exact antithesis of candid photography; where candid photography relies on the spontaneity of the situation, traditional photography is not like that at all. In this photography, the subjects are fully aware that they are photographed, they are often informed to pose as well, and they know how to stand or look at the camera.

Many photographers do not like traditional photography for the simplest reason that in most situations, it simply takes the life out of the photograph and leaves you with something that was artificially created. 

I would not go to the extent of saying that traditional photography is easy because you are still going to make sure that the people you are photographing are good at posing and they know how to follow the instructions, as well.

traditional photo sample image

What is the Difference Between Traditional and Candid Photography?

Now that we have explained what both photography types are, the next step is to start looking at the differences. After all, this is incredibly important because, without understanding, you might not be able to grasp the concept of either of the photography types.

With that out of the way, let’s spend some time looking at the differences between candid and traditional photography.

  • The Goal: With traditional photography, the main goal is coverage and photographers aim to get as many shots as possible and make sure that the entire event is covered the proper way. This includes even asking the couple to repeat a certain step or look at the camera. However, the focus of candid photography is emotion. Candid photographers will capture the moment as it is happening and more often than not, the images that are candid end up looking a lot better.
  • Speed: A traditional photographer is tasked with just one thing and that is as much coverage of a certain event as possible without really paying attention to other things such as mastering the art. A candid photographer, on the other hand, is a master of most things including lights, lenses, reflectors, and a lot more. More importantly, candid photographers always have to be in the now in order to get the best pictures out of a situation.
  • Different Equipment: I know this might sound strange but candid photographers are known to be very picky about the equipment and mostly invest in high-quality lenses as well as drones. They need to be sure that they have the absolute best of everything out there.
  • Editing Workflow: Another thing is that the editing workflow between both photographers is inherently different. Candid photographers go through the trouble of making sure that they are editing every single picture the same way and making them as good as possible. However, traditional photographers do not engage in that because they have taken countless pictures, and in order to deliver them on time, what they mostly provide are images that, although corrected, are not corrected to a higher degree.

These are some of the most common differences that you can find between traditional and candid photography. Don’t worry, we are going to go further and look at all the other aspects.

candid photo

Why Candid Photography is the Best?

Now that we are done explaining the differences between candid and traditional photography, the next part that we are going to look at is just why candid photography is best.

Now, I do understand that most of the people who are reading this will surely wonder if there are any real benefits, to begin with, but for someone who has been in photography for as long as one can remember, the benefits are clearly there.

Candid photo of a joyful child laughing, showcasing the genuine emotion captured without the subject's awareness

Still, for your convenience, I am going to talk about the most common benefits of candid photography or just why candid photography is the best.

  • Captures the Time: Now, I do understand that any picture manages to capture the time but when you are talking about candid photography, it truly captures the time as it stands still. That is the reason why so many candid photographers take their time with the picture they are about to take and then go ahead and snap that picture. It surely is not easy but it definitely is not something that you should be overlooking.
  • Always the Perfect Emotion: Another thing that I have come to love about candid photography is that when you are taking candid pictures, you are always going to capture the perfect emotion. Be it sadness, happiness, delight, joy, or anything else, the fact that you will be capturing these emotions at the moment they happen is something that gives testament to how good candid photography is.
  • Gets Generally Better Pictures: Now, I know you might be thinking just how is candid photography able to get better pictures. Well, that is because candid photographers, in general, spend a good chunk of time taking the pictures and they are doing it in the way they want to do it. That ensures that there is little to no issue coming in the way, and the pictures end up looking out of this world, carefully composed, and full of life.

These are some of the most common reasons why candid photography is the best. However, I do understand that there comes a time when a person can simply not decide. Additionally, there are also situations where people end up not having the right experience for candid photography or photography in general, and for those, we have some excellent photography tips that can help you get better.

Frequently Asked Questions

The reason why candid photography is loved by many is simply that the results that you get out of candid photography are a lot better.

Candid photography basically means any sort of photography in which the subject is unaware that they are being photographed or are simply not posing for the picture.

Traditional photography is the antithesis of candid photography and it involves the photographer guiding the subjects on how to pose and how to handle everything else during a shoot.


When you are talking about traditional vs candid photography, I am fully aware of the differences that can come the way. On top of that, I do understand the complexities too and it should not come as a surprise that candid photography is inherently better and more difficult.

However, this simply does not mean that we can go ahead and overlook traditional photography altogether. Traditional photography works in so many places where candid photography simply does not and vice-versa.

Sure, if you are capturing people in their lives, being themselves, then going for candid photography would be the obvious choice and it is important to know. 

Furqan Shahid

Furqan Shahid

Hi! I’m Furqan Shahid, founder of SnapDirector. With a decade of experience capturing countless moments, I’m here to guide you on your photography journey and save you from gear pitfalls!

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