You cando candid wedding photos

11th December 2016
Sorry, was that too cheesy ?

There's two distinct styles to wedding photography... there's the candid shots - or indeed full reportage wedding photography, quite a popular term used nowadays by couples that want more natural wedding photographs, but also used by many new photographers that say they are "reportage" until they have mastered flash, posing and working with people.
I'm not saying reportage wedding photographers are unskilled, check out Kevin Mullins for example... a true reportage style wedding photographer, but trained and experienced in making it an art.

Then there's the posed and practised photos... showing the couple off at their chosen venue in beautiful and thought out light & posing.

My style is a mixture of both. There are certain parts of the day that I just watch, study and capture, and then later I'll take the couple aside for 20 minutes or so and give them amazing photos that we may have planned months before the wedding.

But how do you get real candid photos without disturbing the flow of the day ?
You could slap on a 70-200mm lens and stand miles away - but the photos would be so disconnected they would lose all the passion, emotion and feeling that was around the moments.

I'm amazed at how often I'm told by couples when they see the photos of the different angles and parts of the day "We didn't even see you then, we can't remember you taking those!". It's always a surprise - even though it is one of the things I always try to do , as I'm 6' 2" and not a slim build by any means.
I suppose that must mean I have got a good way of getting the shots I want, without actually being seen to be there.

So what can you do to get candid shots and be really candid ?
Here's my thoughts on what I do (or don't do).

1) Camera Gear
It goes without saying, you shouldn't do any kind of professional photography without knowing your camera gear inside out and back to front. How to get from one menu/set-up/setting with muscle memory.
There's no time to be staring at the back lcd panel as you press buttons and turn dials trying to figure out how to make a change to settings... all the time your face lit up by the screen.

During the ceremony too, get your settings in and check one photo maybe, then trust your camera. I've seen photographers check the back of their cameras after almost every shot and not only does it look like you don't know what you're doing, it's more movement when you should be rock solid still, camera at your eye capturing the important moments.

Personally... this is one of the reasons I switched to Fuji cameras, lightweight, small (very small with a good prime lens on) and with the electronic shutter switched on - completely silent.
This is very important in getting good candid pictures at quiet parts of the day especially the ceremony..
Every wedding has a few keen photographers amongst the guests and as they hold up their big DSLR's and fire a magazine of photos off like a machine gun, I stand in complete silence capturing the emotion close up.
I've got my shutter type set up as a quick access button, so I can switch back to mechanical when I need to.

So for me... small camera, small lens and silent, electronic shutter (at times).
When I walk into a wedding I more often than not have nothing more on me than two Fuji X-Pro2s. No bag, no big huge bright Canon or Nikon straps... first impressions that I have to make are to be minimal.

2) Clothing
I have the most boring of wedding outfits, but it helps to make me blend in. Black suit, black shirt, nice tie( have to be smart at every wedding) and black soft soled shoes.
I've seen photos of photographers in pink shirts or flowery dresses (the female ones lol) and whilst that might be them, there's nothing more off putting than bright colours darting about at the front of a wedding.

Unfortunately my "uniform" has had me mistaken at times for hotel staff and I've been asked for menus, or drinks a few times, only for me to show my camera and explain "I'm just here for the photos today".

My very comfy black soft soled shoes get me through the day - which can be 12 hours or more on my feet and soft soled for the obvious quietness of walking around hard floors, so I'm not clip-clopping and attracting attention.
I also double tie my shoe laces as there's no time to stop to tie a shoe lace at a wedding, and I don't want to trip over and fly into the ceremony !
Small but very important tips for me !

3) Movement
During a wedding, at sections when there is something happening that I am just there to watch and record... I'll usually skirt around the edges of the room.
In the morning I'll go and say hello to the girls while their getting make up and hair done, and I'll tell everyone including the make up artists etc to just carry on as if I wasn't there. After a few minutes they will start to relax again and not notice me.
I move quietly around, never wanting to attract attention.
All that seems fairly obvious , but some venues make it difficult with gravel, squeaky floorboards and tight spaces to get around. I honestly feel like a Commando sneaking about at some weddings :)

4) Knowing how the wedding is going to flow & be friendly with guests
From the very first communication with a wedding couple I'm gathering information about the way the day will flow, who's all involved, family set-ups and the wedding party and important guests.
I need to know what's going to happen...when... and who needs to be there.
I remember back in my early days shooting weddings being taken by surprise with things happening on the day, and me being in the completely wrong place, having to sprint to get to the right place.
Nowadays I'm quietly there already, ready to record the event.

Also as soon as all the guests are comfortable with me being around them , in my dark clothes and small cameras I really do just get left to go unnoticed.

Going back to the camera gear bit for a second, if I was trying to capture the guests just chatting after the ceremony and pulled up a DSLR with a huge white lens on it - you can almost guarantee they'll stiffen up and go into fake smile mode.

So getting them used to me, walking around with my wee cameras and when I see something that can add to the story book, up comes my wee camera almost invisibly and the moment is captured.

5) Flash.
My flashes generally get kept away until the groups/formal shots (sometimes) or my dramatic showing off the pretty couple at their amazing venue shots.
But for parts of the day when you can get candids, I'd never use flash.

So there you are , my tips on getting some nice candid shots.
I suppose I could have made this all quicker and just said "Want to know how to take candid wedding photos ? Then don't do any of these things... wear a bright shirt, shoes that make loud clip-clop noises, lots of huge camera gear and bags hanging off shoulders and belts, turn up, rush in lots of noisy fast shutter bursts, run around the bride and groom with flash going off all the time, get caught out by not knowing what's going to happen during the day and being in the wrong place at the right time."

If you found this helpful, or not, leave a comment below... here's a 4 minute slideshow of some of my favourites...

Happy Christmas !


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