Why candid family photography is hands down the hardest & best type of photography out there.

(Technical know-how required to read this post: low to medium.)

You might know that I have a passion for capturing candid family life. In this post, I will compare candid photography to other types of photography. I will prove to you that candid family photography is the BEST (and possibly most challenging) type of photography ever.

Let’s start!

How candid family photography is like Sports Photography.

Well, this one is easy. They both capture fast moving things! For some reason, when I think of sports photography, I always think of Formula 1, but it also includes human-without-machine sports, like roller derby, hockey, and skateboarding, all of which I’ve photographed before.

Each sport has its peculiarities and each sport has ‘the shot’ (i.e. the exact moment at which the photograph SHOULD be taken, not before and not after.) With skateboarding, my husband’s lifelong hobby, I’ve been schooled over and over about how capturing the board when it’s FLAT in the air is better than when it isn’t, etc. Maximum air, all that stuff. It makes a shot from blah to WOW! This is the challenging part.

But with most sports photography, you situate yourself somewhere and you set up your gear, and you pre-focus on a point where you know the action will be, and then you spray and pray. That is, you mash on the shutter when your subject is near the area you’re aiming for, and you often shoot directly to Jpeg, because editing those thousands of images would be a total b#$#%ch. 

Well, guess what? Family photography is like sports photography, but ON SPEED. More speed, you ask? Yep. In addition to the quickly moving kids (and parents, and dogs), you also have yourself to move. You have to follow all the action, and it can go from indoors to outdoors, from one end of the park to the other. You don’t really have the luxury of setting up your gear in one spot and then staying there. You are ALWAYS moving. (however, for a slightly different approach, check out Kristen Lewis’s creative live episodes in which she talks about first identifying a strong scene and staying there to capture a specific moment. I do follow this approach sometimes, but even so - most of the time I’m moving.) 

Conclusion: Candid family photography is kinda like sports photography, but more challenging and better ;) 

How candid family photography is like Nature Photography.

Nature photography: You’ve got a long lens (a veeeery long lens), a gazelle, a field, and a whole lot of patience.

Candid family photography: You’ve got a bunch of lenses, a bunch of gazelle-like humans, a bunch of rooms, and a whooooooole lot of patience.

So, they ARE pretty similar. Except in nature photography, you can lie on your stomach for HOURS, whereas this generally doesn’t work in family photography. Oh, and generally you aren’t meant to talk to the gazelles, whereas with the humans, you have to talk sometimes a lot, to make them comfortable. 

Conclusion: Candid family photography is a bit like nature photography, but more challenging and better ;) 

How candid family photography is like Street Photography.

Street photography required a great eye for the candid, it requires fast thinking, and being able to compose on the go. It requires being able to deal with all manner of challenging light, and shifting people and objects. It can be confined to small spaces of big spaces.

These ALL apply to candid family photography as well. Except in family photography, you also have to think about your clients – the people who are hoping to get meaning and context out of their photographs. It isn’t enough just to take cool looking images. You have to shoot with intention, and the intention needs to be empathy, kindness, compassion, and joy. You HAVE to be a decent human being as a candid family photographer. You can’t be the equivalent of the street photographer who always exploitatively photographs homeless people. These photographs also feel cheap, because they use ‘easy targets’.

There are easy targets in family photography, too. Shooting those over and over makes you a sloppy photographer. Kids’ naked bums or kids picking their noses are two examples of ‘easy targets’. The photographs are visually interesting because they are examples of things that are taboo to adults. But spend ANY time with a small kid, and they will pick their nose (and eat it) and drop their pants. It’s finding the OTHER stuff that takes work. 

Conclusion: Candid family photography is a bit like street photography, but more challenging and better ;) 

How candid family photography is like Astrophotography.

Ok, you got me there. Family photography is about as far away from capturing long exposures of slow-moving celestial objects as it can be.

Scratch that. There is a similarity I’ve just thought of. They both make you appreciate the beauty of the universe. Gazing up at our galaxy and beyond makes you wistful and dreamy. Gazing down toward complicated human beings – little and big – makes you grateful and filled with joy. 

Conclusion: One day I want to take up astrophotography. ;)


I hope you’ve enjoyed my post on the similarities between candid family photography and other types of photography. If you feel offended because you are a sports or nature photographer, please know that this was all in good jest. But when you do try candid family photography, you’ll know what I mean: it’s just hands down the best (and hardest).