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Weddings can be dramatic, emotional, and a rollercoaster of an event. In addition to that, they could also be heavily posed. However, some couples have joined the bandwagon of letting go of the need to look “too perfect”. They are simply seeking their wedding photographers to capture moments that are more real and feel less staged. Moreover, they are seeking candid wedding photos that allow a glimpse into their true emotions. If you find more and more of your clients asking for a similar photography style, we are here to ensure that you are ready to deliver.

What Is Candid Wedding Photography?

a black and white image of a couple laughing out loud
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @erinm_photography

Candid wedding photography shifts your photography focus toward documenting your subjects uninterrupted and in their natural element. However, not everything makes for a good photograph. Therefore, learning the art of taking candid photographs can feel a bit like bracing yourself for a moment that might or might not happen. Additionally, it requires learning to filter through moments to capture the ones that come rare but are priceless because of the true innocence and the emotional appeal they hold.

Suggested Read: Putting Into Perspective: What Makes A Good Photograph?

Candid Wedding Photography Tips

How to plan to capture a moment that you don’t know will happen in the first place? We have laid out some tips and suggestions to help you figure out your way around mastering just how to take candid photos.

1. Give Plandids A Try

a grand wedding exit where the entourage is following the newlywed couple
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @infiniteloopphoto

Just as the name suggests, plandids are candid moments that are a bit planned or are retouched upon just a little. As awesome as it is to always be on the lookout to capture something extraordinary that might just happen at any given moment, it also helps to introduce some plandids. And to include them into your workflow, prompts, and questions can work like magic. For example, “What was your first date with your partner like?” “Where did you guys first meet?” or “What about your partner makes you smile?” Prepare a list of such questions to ask your couples in between the session as they are likely to evoke powerful emotions. However, be cautious not to overdo the plandid protocol to a point where the moment loses its raw essence.

2. Prepare For First Looks

What is a first look at a wedding? They are a pre-ceremony meeting between the couple in private before they finally say their vows out loud and walk the aisle. Nowadays, more and more couples are breaking the long-term customary notion of only meeting the partner in their wedding attire during the ceremony and not before that. But does that mean the first look is for every couple? Definitely not! It is your couple’s wedding, and they have every right to plan it as they wish. But should you bring it up? A big yes, especially if the couples voiced their desire for candid wedding photos.

Whether or not to have a first look? Your couple has the final say. However, you can talk about the benefits of planning the first look from the perspective of a candid wedding photographer. What’s even more important is that if they do plan to include it, you need to be prepared. Why? Let us elaborate: a first look not only offers a glimpse of their partner all dressed up in their wedding fineries but also provides a brief window of time when they can meet and just be themselves before embarking on a very special journey together. Although brief, the moment is filled with a whirlwind of emotions. All the perfect mix for candid wedding photography.

Related Read: How To Set Up And Shoot A First Look: A Wedding Photographer’s Guide

3. Be Camera Ready, Even After The Big Moments

an outdoor wedding ceremony
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @dannydong

From cake cutting and reception toasts to the ring exchange and the first kiss, sometimes the best candid wedding pictures come after the big moments. All these moments are often planned and thought about time and again. However, you’ll know you’ve struck gold when, in these picture-perfect moments, you find those sweet spots when people break the “we want it to look perfect” mold and slip into their real selves. You could capture these fleeting moments as your couple breaks into a giggle or gets teary-eyed or does something instinctive. What’s important is that the camera is rolling when it does happen, even for a second. 

Another suggestion would be to hang out with a group of guests around which your couples are at their most comfortable. Mostly because weddings can easily turn into a pretend feast. However, when your couples are around their closest friends and family members, honest emotions are likely to surface – whether they come amid friendly banter or while sharing drinks. A pro tip: keep an eye on the bridesmaids and groomsmen as they often tend to include a surprise or fun element.

4. Make Way For Humor

a couple walking their dog in their wedding attire
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @taylorkempphotography

An honest laughter often comes as one of the most genuine emotions. What’s tricky is to be able to induce it at the right moment, even more so as candid wedding photographers. It is not something you can always plan but can still work towards. Let conversations be a starter. In-between the sessions and all the posing cues, also have conversations with your couples about them and what they like. You can ask them what about their partner makes them laugh, or just for a hearty laugh, give them a funny posing cue and ask them to embrace the awkwardness. Introducing all these things can make way for including humor and moments of genuine laughter that are so very rare. But when that does happen, make sure your camera is ready to capture that priceless scene. Shoot quick!

Related Read: Tricks To Make Your Couples Laugh

5. Document The Moment

a black and white image of a bride twirling in her wedding dress while the groom smiles at her
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer

Once you are done with your shot list and capturing all the big moments, shift gear to think from the perspective of a documentary photographer. If you have a photography team or a second shooter, you can assign the same task to them while you’re shooting the main events. Documenting candids doesn’t require you to interrupt what’s happening or give posing cues, but simply let the planning take the backseat and observe the event unfold through your lens. Sometimes you will be there at the right place at the right time, sometimes not. But slowly, with shooting enough weddings and practice, you’ll get better at developing an intuitive headspace of documenting moments.

Concluding Thoughts: Timing Is Crucial

As much as you plan or prepare, timing is a game changer for taking candid wedding photos. It could be that you missed out on something because you simply weren’t there or you were there but just not ready to capture it. We understand that it could be tough to get the timing right, but it helps to be attentive and keep your camera ready. As long as you are at the wedding, think from the perspective of a photographer even when the big moments are done and dusted. Moreover, pivot the lack of control toward making the most out of the change of events. 

Further Read: Going Against The Grain In Wedding Photography

Here at ShootDotEdit, we aim to help you achieve more success as a professional wedding photographer. Part of how we do that is by taking the editing load off your post-production workflow. To get more clarity on how we can help, take a look at our pricing plans.

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