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Getting Candid About Posed vs Prompted Photos

Let’s break down candid vs. posed photos. What are they? And which one is right for your next photo session?


But first, a flashback…


Remember those awful school photos they used to make us take? The ones with world globes, lasers, or American flags in the background? Or the ones where they had us prop our heads on our hands or stare off into the middle distance? The idea that we paid for these photos adds to their kitschiness, but I, for one, am sure glad that photos now have a bit more of life and personality to them!


When you are looking for a photographer to capture photos that look and feel like your personality, you’re looking for something beyond posed photos. These photos have many different names, which can be confusing; lifestyle photos, candid photos, prompted photos, documentary photos.


So what do they mean? Between candid vs. posed photos, which one is right for you? Keep reading to find out!


Candid vs. Posed Photos


Posed Photos


So before you think I’m picking on posed photos, I’m not. I appreciate the art of a classically lit portrait, and there are many (many) photographers do it well here in Phoenix. It’s not my jam, and asking me to do a very posed photo would be like asking a pastry chef to make sushi. Could they do it? Probably, but it wouldn’t be their best work.

Posed photos are constructed by the photographer and are controlled 100%, from the setting, lighting, to the posing. Tilt your head this way, move your leg this way; it’s a deliberate act to capture the subject in a specific manner.

It’s a very rigid style that I feel highlights a photographer’s skill and doesn’t tell the story of the person behind in front of the camera. Kids, in particular, are not a fan of this style. To be honest, most adults are not either!

Posed photos are not part of my Adventure Sessions; instead, I employ much more organic ways to capture your spirit.

Prompted Photos


On the spectrum of candid vs. posed photos, prompted photos fall in the middle. With prompted photos, a photographer will use prompts to get the subject to react to the camera in a more natural way. It might be something like “Hold hands and walk down the path” or “Whisper something funny in her ear”. The hope is that this prompt will help the subject loosen up a bit and then be able to capture more candid moments after the prompt.

Prompts can sometimes be helpful, especially at the beginning of a session, if people are nervous or unsure of what to do in front of the camera. But relying on them for the whole session results in not staged photos, but not natural, either. It’s a forced photo-ready version of you.

Who wants a photo where all you can think is, “our photographer told us to do that?” when they look at it years later?


Candid Photos


Candid vs. Posed photos: Candid tells a more emotional story. A husband lovingly puts his hand on his wife's lower back while seated.


Do you know the way he always links his pinkie finger around yours when you hold hands? The way she looks at you when you make a corny joke? That’s the stuff, right there. Imagine you had photos of that, captured in the most natural way possible. 

These moments cannot be created by a photographer; they can only be captured by a photographer who lives and breathes for these images. Hi, you just met her!

Candid photos happen naturally when people are willing to just be themselves. While it can take some time to ease into such an unposed, unprompted session, the resulting photos are unmistakably you. These are the photos you’re going to want in your hands years from now.

What you Can Expect During an Adventure Photography Session



Taking off and finding new adventures is one of life’s greatest rushes. Like the first time you saw the Grand Canyon, or that moment the your hiking trail takes a turn towards an epic overlook, adventure reminds us we are fully alive. Lucky for you, feeling alive makes for great photographs.

My sessions start with some fresh air, your favorite songs, and Vitamin D. Throw in some stunning scenery and a gorgeous sunset, and you can’t help but feel moved by the moment.

Photos taken in the middle of an adventure take us outside everyday life while still highlighting your everyday love. And candid photos make zero compromises. It’s just you, your most cherished people, and a picturesque backdrop better than any other.

See what I mean?


If after learning about candid vs. posed photos, you find yourself on team candid, be sure to hire a photographer who specializes in them! Want to marry adventure and candid photos together? Let’s start planning your adventure session!


Need some ideas for some awesome adventure sessions near Phoenix? Check out my favorite photo locations near Phoenix.





Candid vs. Posed Photos: Candid photos pack a punch. Husband and wife kiss in a black and white photo.