It is said a picture is worth a thousand words, but first you need a picture that says what you want it to say. Some photographers subscribe to the shotgun method: take as many pictures as possible in the shortest amount of time and one of them might be good.
The opposite opinion is the control method where everything is thought out in advance before the button is pushed. Both methods have their good points, but for the advanced amateur, a combination of the two methods produces better results.
For want of a better title, I call my system 'Planned Candids ". First think about the background. This is your canvas and the less it will intrude on your real subject, the better. So look around for an unobtrusive area that will compliment your subject. and immediately think about what your photograph should say. It could be envisioned as 'Fun', or 'Quiet Moment', or 'Wild Abandon'. With this in mind, place your subjects and yourself in a position for good composition . Remember the 'rule of thirds'. which divides the canvas in three parts, horizontally, and vertically. Where the lines cross there exists a natural, powerful area that draws the eye to a center of interest. Place your main interest where two lines meet and use the diagonally opposite convergence for a secondary item of interest. The corners may be used for lines of contrast within the composition that leads the eye to the centers of interest. If the resulting pathway creates an 'S' shape, so much the better.
An important role in making a photograph powerful, proper lighting supports the theme and gives the subject depth and dimension. Indoors, try placing your subject in window light and yourself next to the window. A reflecting surface of any kind will help open up the shadow areas. Out of doors, shade pictures can be enhanced by using the reflective properties of existing surfaces: a white fence, a stucco wall, or even a lady's dress. This main source of light will created beautiful highlights and shadows.
Now you are ready for the 'candid' part. By interacting with you subject, whether human or animal, concentrate on choosing that exact moment that will capture your message. Do not be afraid to make a mistake. Just be aware of the edges of your photograph and at the same time, keep your subject animated and moving. The planning part will give you an edge in creating that perfect picture and the candid part will keep it natural. Happy shooting.