Monthly Archives: September 2014

The virtues of the unposed shot

The virtues of the unposed shot

Did your family make you pose for pictures when you were young? Did it always feel like it took hours to get a good shot to you? Although some of my favorite photos are posed shots, so many more of them are candids that I rarely bother with trying to make my family pose anymore.

Maybe it’s the sneaky side of me, but snagging photos of my kids when they are engrossed in something and completely unaware of me has netted some of the best story telling photos.

sneaky shot 1 ||

Now this is not a perfect photo. It’s dark and grainy and the focus isn’t what it could be. But it tells a story, of a boy engrossed in toys he hasn’t played with in too long, because they’ve been packed away.

sneaky shot 2 ||

It can be hard getting a picture without them noticing, but when you manage it, you get photos that show more of your subject’s personality and idiosyncrasies — like the holey socks and the messy hair, and the improbable seating here.

Of course, sometimes they know you have the camera ready, but that doesn’t mean you need to make them stop and pose. Catch them in the act, and you may end up with some of your favorite pictures.

sneaky shot 3 ||

Sometimes a photo opportunity can be used to entertain while waiting in line, or you can sneak a picture by not obviously looking through your viewfinder/screen. Here, I had just used the camera to take a picture of our feet all together, and rather than turning it off right away, I snapped some pictures from waist high while the boys weren’t paying attention.

sneaky shot 4 ||

Of course if you feel you absolutely must make your family pose, rather than stiff photos of everyone grouped together, try taking some poses that help tell a story. Here, we’re crossing the international boundary line between the US and Canada. My son thought it was important and cool, so we stopped and posed on the bridge.

In short, while posed shots are wonderful, unposed shots are opportunities for visual storytelling. Don’t worry about getting a perfect shot, just aim for something that helps you tell a story. You’ll be glad you did.