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How to Take Great Candid Photos at Family Gatherings

If staged photo ops have failed to capture the real heart of a family event, these tips will add some spontaneity to those celluloid memories.


  • Step 1: Be carefree as you move around from group to group. Keep a sharp eye out and focus on what's happening in the background as well as the foreground.
  • Step 2: Snap away and take as many photos as you can -- you can always sort through them later on. Don't forget to enjoy yourself as you commit to capturing each moment on film.
  • FACT: The 2012 Mars Rover "Curiosity" will be outfitted with a high resolution 3-D camera for the first time to record sweeping images of the red planet's surface.
  • TIP: Be intuitive and anticipate people's reactions in order to capture those special moments as they happen.
  • Step 3: Hang out where the most action is -- often this means the kitchen or anyplace where there is food.
  • Step 4: Use a long lens -- 80 millimeters is a good choice -- to capture those great facial expressions and intimate moments. A solid 5- to 8-times zoom will also help get some great candid shots.
  • TIP: Focus on the family member's eyes to capture the life of any moment.
  • Step 5: Turn off the flash whenever possible to avoid drawing too much attention to yourself. Use a fast lens or your camera's low-light settings to make use of any light in the room.
  • Step 6: Get your stealth on by hiding in the corner and the back of the crowd so your family subjects don't see you coming. You have to be sneaky to get good candid photos.

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