How to Photograph Candid Wedding Photos?

Weddings have changed drastically in the past few years. Couples want more from a wedding these days. They don’t like traditional, regular photography anymore. They frequently ask for documentary or candid wedding photography because it captures the emotions of the couple and the guests enjoying themselves without lining them up in front of the camera. If you need ideas on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.

What Does Candid Wedding Photography Mean?

The first crucial question to ask is what candid photography is? Candid photography is any type of photography that is real and in the moment.

There is no posed picture, no fake smiles—only real, genuine feelings. The subjects may know you are there photographing them. But they are not taken out of the moment by the camera’s presence. It is easy to spot a fake smile or fake look, which is the quickest way to a mediocre photograph. But a candid photo allows real emotions to shine through.

You could be doing portraiture, event or wedding photography. Or travel, street photography, or family photography. Learning how to get candid shots will take you to a new level as a professional photographer. 

Candid photographers know how to look at each scene. And they use the surroundings or other ideas to their advantages. This all comes with practice. Candid moments are shots of decisive moments. Our exclusive range of Melbourne wedding photography will help you not miss a thing on your wedding day.

Tips for Doing Candid Wedding Photography

Candid photography is so much more than just pointing your camera at people and shooting away to glory. You, as a photographer, need to know and understand the finer nuances involved in candid wedding photography; you need to know how to get good candid shots without people noticing you. Here are tips for shooting a wedding in a lovely, discreet, and genuine way, making the entire task much easier for you.

Always Be Ready

The prime tip for candid wedding photography is to be always ready. That means you must always keep an eye out for moments and keep that camera ready. Your camera needs to be in your hands and ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. You must set the camera according to the light conditions (settings like the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc.) so that you don’t need to fiddle around with the settings while things happen in front of you. 

Know Your Equipment

Many photographers miss the shot while trying to change the camera settings. You must know the equipment that you are using, inside out. It helps gauge the light conditions and set the camera accordingly so that you don’t miss the events that would warrant a picture. It might very well be helpful to have a more miniature camera handy, in addition to that big bulky DSLR, just in case.

Use a Telephoto Zoom Lens.

Candid photography is all about taking pictures of the bride, groom, guests, etc., from a distance without them noticing you. Nothing will be more helpful in achieving this than a relatively long telephoto zoom lens. Use lenses like 100mm, 70-200mm or even 100-400mm when you need to capture those emotions, those candid moments. You can, of course, use any lens you want (something like a 50mm could be helpful, too!). But, since candid photography is all about being unobtrusive and naturally capturing those emotions, using a zoom lens helps maintain the intimacy of the picture being taken, which is so essential in wedding photography.

Do Not Use Flash

One sure-fire way of getting people to notice you is to use a flash (whether onboard one or an external flash gun). Not only this, light from a moment can be so unflattering and boring, to put it simply. If there is a shortage of light, you as a photographer need to find other ways to brighten up the scene you are photographing, either by opening up the aperture, increasing the ISO, slowing up the shutter (to an acceptable range), etc. Increasing the ISO a little too much, you might include a fair bit of noise into the picture, but the idea is to capture the moment, and there are times when noise is a good thing.

Foresee or Plan Ahead

As a candid wedding photographer, it is your job to foresee what will happen, or at least take your best-calculated guess. If possible, I’d suggest you visit the location before the wedding so that you can scout out some good places for taking pictures. If you cannot see the area beforehand, then at least reach the venue well before the function is to start. That way, you can scout out not only some great locations to take pictures from, but you can perhaps even scope out the main rooms that will be used for the wedding and the reception. A little bit of planning goes a long way in getting some great shots.

How to Take Gorgeous Candid Wedding Photos

How to Photograph Candid Wedding Photos?

The idea of having a camera (or two) in your face for an entire day can be daunting for anyone, but especially if you usually feel shy or awkward in front of a lens. So what’s the secret to acting naturally for those priceless, off-the-cuff candid wedding photos on your wedding day? Take it from seasoned wedding photographers: One way to get organic candid wedding photography is to forget the camera is even there. We know—it sounds impossible. But don’t worry: The pros know precisely which spontaneous moments always guarantee truly authentic pics. Here, four photographers share how to relax in front of the camera, plus their favourite candid wedding photography moments. We have an exclusive range of wedding photography Mornington Peninsula services. Check them out here.

Photographer: Valorie Darling

The Key to Staying Relaxed and Natural:

“Finding a photographer you’re comfortable with is key. It’s so important to have a connection with whomever you hire. I strive to find clients I connect with and learn what makes them laugh and feel confident, so I’m more like a friend than a stranger when it comes to their wedding day. Then, it just feels like we’re playing without stress around the camera.”

Your Favourite Wedding Moments for Capturing Candid Photos: 

“There’s so much emotion and high energy happening on a wedding day that lends effortlessly to capturing great candid shots, including moments like speeches, when the couple is invested in what’s being said. I always encourage the [couple] to do a first look if they’re open to it. This allows them to relax in the day and knock out the more formal shots before guests arrive, so after the ceremony, they can just live in that bliss and let the epic candids roll.”

Your Pro Trick to Snapping Candid Shots:

“Being present and in the moment, but still maintaining a little bit of anticipation for the way a wedding day unfolds. I typically use a 70- to 200-millimetre lens (a long lens) to get intimate shots up close without intruding. Being able to read a room thoroughly is helpful too, and I tend to look for animated guests who light up a room and get people laughing.”

Favourite Candid Shot You’ve Ever Taken: 

Sometimes it’s the little moments that stick out, and an easily overlooked laugh shared between two cousins—a bride and her maid of honour—walking to the car together after taking formal photos is one of my favourites. I can still hear them cracking up and their uncontainable energy of shared memories leading up to this day. Some people might look at it and not think much of it, but I look at it and instantly feel pure joy. Create lasting memories through your Yarra Valley wedding photography that will be cherished forever.

What makes these photos so unique:

“The rawness and authenticity of candid shots have an energy that’s palpable. A great candid shot transports you back to that exact feeling and moment. A really great candid gives you goosebumps, and you feel a connection even if you weren’t a part of it.”

Photographer: Sasithon Pooviriyakul

The Key to Staying Relaxed and Natural:

“Get into the mindset of having fun together versus taking formal photos. Imagine being on a date that just so happens to be your wedding day.”

Your Favourite Wedding Moments for Capturing Candid Photos:

“The dance party—hands down! Especially when there’s a hora involved. When the party starts, all inhibitions are thrown out the window, and capturing this energy is priceless. I also love when there are surprises involved. At one wedding, the mother of the bride surprised the couple with a Brazilian dance troupe. The reactions from the couple and the guests were incredible to photograph.”

Your Pro Trick to Snapping Candid Shots:

“Telling couples to try and forget I’m there and to enjoy each other and the moment. A wedding day goes by so fast, so savour every second. Also, a glass of wine always helps.”

Favourite Candid Shot You’ve Ever Taken:

“I shot a farm wedding, and two goats jumped right in sync in front of the couple!”

What Makes These Photos So Unique:

“Candids are the heart of a wedding—they’re the photos that take you back to the feeling and magic of that special day.”

Photographer: Dacia Pierson

The Key to Staying Relaxed and Natural:

“The best way to feel comfortable in front of the camera is to feel comfortable with your photographer. Don’t let your wedding date feel like your first date with a stranger. Get a coffee or a drink, call them when you have questions (we’re more than happy to weigh in) and, above all, opt for the engagement shoot.”

Your Favourite Wedding Moments for Capturing Candid Photos:

“Just after the ceremony, when the pressure of everything running on schedule is over. That’s it—you’re married! There’s a real shift in energy between [the couple] once that part is over and you’re basking in all the love surrounding you.”

Your Pro Trick to Snapping Candid Shots:

“I’m an observer. Throughout all of our time together, I’m watching how [the couple] interacts with each other and making space for it to happen. My process is simply to respond to who you already are together and provide encouragement through direction if necessary.”

What Makes These Photos So Unique:

“Simply put, candid photos are the story of your wedding day: the energy in the room, emotional [wedding parties], the loving moments between you and your love, and the merging of two families.”

Photographer: Samm Blake

The Key to Staying Relaxed and Natural:

“Book a photographer whose style and personality you connect with. Look through a selection of their full weddings similar in style to your own to see how they photograph the different parts of the day. Meet with and get to know your photographer before you book and again just before the day—you’ll be more relaxed and yourself around a friend than a stranger. And on [your wedding] day, try not let any hiccups get in the way of you enjoying yourself, because if you’re stressed, it’ll show in photographs.”

Your Favourite Wedding Moments for Capturing Candid Photos:

“I love when couples spend time with their guests immediately after the ceremony concludes. The energy is high, and there are so many smiles and happy tears. Everyone forgets about the cameras, and it’s a really joyful time.”

Your Pro Trick to Snapping Candid Shots:

“I help my clients build a timeline for their wedding day that will allow the natural events to unfold in a relaxed manner. Great photos are made when you’re relaxed, so create a timeline with lots of breathing room. Good photographs take time to create. Trust your photographer with their recommended times.”

Favourite Candid Shot You’ve Ever Taken:

“One that clearly sticks out is from a wedding I photographed in the Faroe Islands. It happened to be a very windy day, and a huge gust of wind came along nearly knocking the couple over—their reactions are the best.”

What Makes These Photos So Unique:

“They’re real. They’re documenting life, love, joy, celebration and happiness. These photographs become reminders of what’s important to us. I see photographs as portals back to a happy time and place and a reminder of all the people you cherish coming together for one special day.”

Candid Photography Tips

Shoot in Burst Mode to Capture Every Moment

People are unpredictable, and you only get one chance when taking candid photography. Take lots of shots—your camera, whether Nikon or Canon digital cameras, can take great photos.

You’ll be surprised at what you find. End up with something fun and spontaneous; shooting in burst mode increases the chance of capturing that perfect shot. Family moments can be the best time for candid photos.

Shoot from the Hip to Avoid Being Seen

If you’re worried about being seen taking photos of someone who may not want their picture taken, try shooting with your camera at hip height. We’re not saying sneaking up on someone and forcing them to be in your photo. But shooting from the hip is a common technique among street photographers.

This gives a new and exciting perspective on a situation that you won’t be used to. It is also adding to the ‘candid photography’ feel of the shot. As a photographer, you often shoot from eye level. The hip level will open up a whole new world.

If you’re ending up with many bad photos, try using live view to compose a shot first. There is no best lens for this candid photography, but broader lenses are more comfortable to shoot with.

Move Around Your Subjects for Better Composition

If you’re taking a candid photo of someone, you’re unable to ask them to move for a better composition. It’s also pointless asking them to look natural. That creates the most awkward shots of all.

Get up and walk around your subjects until you have them positioned how you’d like, then take the photo. Have your candid camera ready all the time. An entire set of photos taken from the same seat tends to be boring and predictable. Movement helps to mix things up.

Lose the Flash to Stay Discreet

Using a flash is a dead giveaway. If you want to go unseen, widen your aperture and raise your ISO. You will be able to take well-exposed candid photos in low light conditions such as indoors.

An ISO of about 800 is recommended, and you can widen the aperture as much as you want. This gives your photos an excellent, shallow depth of field, meaning the focus will be on the subject rather than its surroundings.

Ask Questions to Break the Ice

The camera will often act as a barrier between a photographer and their subject. It can make your subject feel very self-conscious and exposed. Use your conversational skills to break this ice.

Portrait candid photography may seem like a strange term. How can you take a candid portrait shot of someone during a session when they know you photograph them? But there is a way to photograph your subjects, so the moments are real—and feel candid.

If you ever noticed great candid photographers working, one of their best qualities is interacting with their subjects. They know how to keep them comfortable and bring their personalities out.

Think of questions ahead of time. Or search for some common ground to talk about. If you don’t know what to say, ask them a simple question. Maybe ask them about their hobby or a place they want to travel to. The excitement firing up in their eyes can be an excellent start for a candid photo.

Keep the focus off the fact that they are being photographed. When you get a person talking, they will begin to forget about the camera. They will start feeling real emotions and showing them in their facial expressions when they talk. This is a way to get natural-feeling images within a setting that wouldn’t suit candid photos.

Wait for the moment in-between the moments. Often, your subjects wait until they don’t think you are photographing. Then they allow their true personality to shine. I call this the in-between moment moments. Pay attention when you are not pointing your camera at your subject. Keep your eye out, and be ready to shoot. You can even track them. Take a posed photo, and then tell them that you are changing your settings. Or try putting your camera down as you make a joke and use Silent Shutter mode.

The second they get that authentic look on their face, go for it and take the shot.

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Get Close and Watch Your Subjects Without Being Noticed

How to Photograph Candid Wedding Photos?

During events or weddings, many photographers will lurk from afar with a long zoom lens. This works for sure. But people often notice you when you point that considerable zoom lens at them. There is no best lens for candid photography. Only the one that gives you the best images.

Get into the middle of the action. Be part of the fun. By doing this, people will become more comfortable around you. They will be more willing to let their guard down. From here, you can survey the room and wait to see who looks like they are having a great time. Don’t look at them before you are about to take their photo. Humans have an evolutionary tendency to notice eye contact. This will take them out of the moment. You need to do this by blending in and keeping quiet. Sometimes, the attention is away from you, and you need to use this to your advantage.

This is one of the best candid photography tips, straight from the book on taking candid photos.

This is especially important if you’re working on a corporate job as it’s best to go unnoticed. Take slow and quiet movements. Blend in by wearing similar clothes to the people you will be taking candid photos of. Another good tip is to use the live view on your camera where possible. This lifts the shutter before the picture is taken, reducing the sound of the exposure.

Instead, act as if you aren’t paying them attention to throw them off your scent. Wait for the right moment to happen before pointing the camera at them. When they’re laughing or in some type of emotional moment, they will not notice or be affected by the camera pointed at them.

For conferences or quiet events where you are waiting for people to open up, consider putting your camera down for a while and watching. Keep the camera ready. But know that people will start to relax more if it’s out of sight. For candids, this means you may need to wait a long time. Sit and wait for someone to make a joke or comment that allows the room to erupt in laughter or show their natural emotions. Then start taking candid photographs like crazy. Sometimes it takes time for these moments to occur. Sit tight and wait for them.

Be More Discreet With a Prime Lens

As mentioned in the last point, zoom lenses will work fine. But prime light lenses will make your camera so much more compact, much less noticeable, and easier to use. It will allow you to walk around an event, blend into the background, and raise your camera to snap a photo without anyone noticing.

A 50mm, 35mm, or 28mm prime with wider apertures (in the f/1.4 to f/2 range) will serve you well in these shooting scenarios.

This doesn’t mean you have to ditch the zoom lens. Use both or interchange between the two. This is why you will notice many wedding photographers using two cameras—one with zoom and one with a prime. If you’ve got one, telephoto lenses are a great way to go unnoticed. You can stand far away and still capture a subject as though you were up close.

A telephoto lens also forces the perspective onto your subject. This makes it less about the scene and more about the person. This is why many photographers use telephoto lenses for portraits. In terms of the best lens for candid photography – go with what you are comfortable with. This way, you will be able to capture more candid photography shots.

Tell People to Get Comfortable and Pose Their Way

When taking someone’s portrait, the easiest way to pose them is to take them out of the moment. Instead, ask them to pose themselves. Ask them how they would stand if you weren’t there, or ask them to suggest some poses.

It is fantastic to see the comfortable and elegant poses that people do when you ask them this. They just needed the prompt! These are not candid photography shots per se. But they will have that genuine or honest feeling. When you mix those poses with natural emotions from a conversation with your subject, the possibilities are endless.

And if your subject starts to become uncomfortable again after a while, move them off that pose. Have them stand somewhere else. Or ask them to try something different, and the cycle will start all over again.

Tell People to Pretend You Are Not There

Often with event or wedding photography, people will be uncomfortable with a camera around. They will have a hard time getting into the moment. And they will wonder if they should be looking here or there. They will try to half pose or do things that look awkward.

In these specific cases, tell the group that you will take some candid photographs of everyone hanging out. Ask people to do their best to pretend you’re not there.

For portrait sessions, have the subjects act out a particular scenario or conversation. Tell them that if you want them to do something specific or look at the camera, you will ask them. Otherwise, they can forget about your presence.

Sometimes all it takes is that prompt, and the room will get more comfortable soon. It permits them to forget about you.

Be Where the Action Is and Blend In

Shooting candidly is very important for candid street and travel photography.

Sometimes you want to capture people’s photographs in their surroundings, without them knowing or without ruining the moment. A few essential tips will make your life much easier when trying to get this type of shot.

The first is to put yourself in the middle of the action. Go where exciting things are happening and hang out there. Pick a spot and let your subjects come to you. By doing this, people will be entering your personal space. And not you entering their space. They will notice you less. This will also allow you to get closer to people.

You will be right in the middle of things, and they will be coming towards you.

If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.

Conclusion

Candid photography is entertaining and keeps your creative energy high. Use our tips and capture moments nobody sees but you.