candid camera

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Although used as its name, the term predates the long-running American television program Candid Camera (first broadcast in 1948).


candid camera (plural candid cameras)

  1. (photography, hyphenated when used attributively) A camera which is concealed or unobtrusive, used to obtain unposed photographs of usually unaware people; the practice of taking such photos.
    • 1937 October 4, "Candid Camera Shots Of College Co-eds Minus Trappings Has Officials Disturbed," Prescott Evening Courier, p. 1 (retrieved 21 Nov 2017):
      A candid camera’s role in higher education, with photographs of co-eds in the nude, commanded public interest today.
    • 1938 October 11, Frederick C. Othman, "Sally Stole My Fan Act, Faith Says," Pittsburgh Press, p. 12 (retrieved 21 Nov 2017):
      Miss Rand . . . is wanted in criminal court to face charges of biting a theater customer who tried to take her picture with a candid camera.
    • 1938 October 14, "Students Hold Short Impromptu Pep Rally," Daily Journal-World (Lawrence, Kansas), p. 5 (retrieved 21 Nov 2017):
      Dorothy Netherton, who with Grace Valentine went to Europe this summer, has more than 400 enlarged candid-camera pictures of scenes taken during the tour.
    • 1954 January 18, "Business Abroad: Camera Comeback," Time (retrieved 21 Nov 2017):
      Last week, after nine years of development work, Zeiss brought out a new camera with which it hopes to regain leadership in the high-quality candid-camera market.
    • 2000 October 7, Stephen Holden, "Film Festival Review: Sparks of Lyrical Meditation Fly From the Cutting Edge," New York Times (retrieved 21 Nov 2017):
      Mr. Dorsky's Arbor Vitae conveys more acute feelings of sadness and ecstasy. . . . Mr. Dorsky's candid camera also catches people rapt in thought.