5 Tips for Doing Candid Wedding Photography

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Weddings have changed drastically in the past few years. Couples want more from a wedding these days, they don’t want the traditional, normal photography anymore. They frequently ask for documentary or candid wedding photography because it captures the emotions of not only the couple, but also the guests enjoying themselves without lining them up in front of the camera.

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But, 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 five tips to shoot a wedding in a lovely, unobtrusive and candid way which would make the entire task much easier for you.

1. Always be ready

The prime tip for candid wedding photography which I can give is, to be always ready. By that, I mean 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. (IMG_7211)

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2. Know your equipment

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen photographers miss the shot while they are trying to change the camera settings. You must know the equipment that you are using, inside out. It helps to 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 smaller camera handy, in addition to that big bulky DSLR, just incase.

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3. 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 fairly long telephoto zoom lens. I regularly use lenses like a 100mm, 70-200mm or even a 100-400mm when I 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 capturing those emotions in a natural way, I would suggest using a zoom lens. What it essentially does is helps maintain the intimacy of the picture being taken, which is so important in wedding photography.

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4. Do not use flash

One sure-fire way of getting people to notice you is to use a flash (whether it be the onboard one, or an external flash gun). Not only this, light from a flash can be so unflattering and boring, to put it simply. If there is a dearth of light, you as a photographer need to find other ways to brighten up the scene that you are photographing, either by opening up the aperture, increasing the ISO, slowing up the shutter (to an acceptable range), etc. I understand that by 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 actually a good thing.

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5. Foresee or plan ahead

As a candid wedding photographer, it is your job to foresee what is going to 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 locations for taking pictures. If you are unable to go visit the location 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.

I hope these top five tips will help you the next time you are out photographing a wedding in a candid, documentary style.

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Bobby Roy

is a wedding and automotive photographer, writer by profession and can be found in far off places in the Himalayas when not out on assignments. You can follow his journey on Instagram.

  • Doron Hazan
  • Bobby Roy

    Thanks, Doron. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am glad you found this interesting and worth your time.

  • erkn

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  • Shiva Prasad Rath

    well described Dada…

  • Manish

    how can we work together?

  • Really Nice one, Thanks a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

  • MichaelinTO

    Thanks for this Bobby. Nice of you to take the time.

    What I have found (as an attendee…not an official, paid photographer) is the need to stay suuuuuuuper out of the way of pros doing their jobs. We (my wife and I) commonly give a few nicely finished candids as our wedding gift, something that has been incredibly well received and appreciated. I am a pro but would never want to shoot weddings on so many levels, but really appreciate those who do (and the work involved——every single weekend). What has happened (more than once) is——even though I will be nowhere near anyone else (and certainly not in the church during some crucial part of the ceremony)——I lift my camera to get a shot, and the photographers (main or secondary shooter) will run over, step in front of me and shoot exactly what I was shooting. I understand (possibly) recognizing I am shooting with equipment (often better than theirs—but seriously, who cares—certainly not me) pros shoot with and somehow that is seen as threatening or competitive. As a result, I (feel I have to) go WAY out of my way to notice where the shooters are and purposefully stay way out of range. I’ve managed to get some great shots, but I have also had some really unnecessary (ill behaved) and unwarranted interactions—-almost to the point where I consider bringing a more mainstream gift like a “toaster” as a gift, and avoid the conflict.

    You can see some candid wedding shots I’ve taken here: https://500px.com/HopeShots/sets/event_photography

  • Robert

    I have shot lots of weddings as a really good friend or relative and have always talked with the bride/groom beforehand to get their approval and the photographer the day of about my intentions of staying out of their way, knowing why they are there and that they are the ones chosen by the wedding party, etc. That usually works for me.

  • MichaelinTO

    Same. I have actually had someone 15 years my junior (and from the shots I saw, did not live up to his cockiness) tell me point blank, “stay out of my way.” This was before we even entered the church and my camera was on the strap behind my hip. I was the brother-in-law of the groom and the bride like a sister to me. Not all weddings are like this of course; I was remarking about how things can turn out with some “professionals”. Often, the bride and groom specifically ask if I will shoot candids. Regardless of the request and any introductions or understandings (including really respectful behaviour from me), I have had the above mentioned (and some not mentioned) experiences. I’m 50. I’m not some hot headed uncouth doofus who doesn’t know how to behave. Still, I have had a few “weird” experiences that keep me very “aware” when I bring a camera to a wedding. Hope you had a chance to click on the link in my post above to see some of the shots.

  • Kush

    I think my story tops this…. I was once hired as the videographer at a wedding (not my primary function) I’m a photographer by profession. Unfortunately, the couple decided that the inexperienced brother of the groom should cover the photography. Needless to say he had a really cheap consumer camera with an incredibly loud shutter. He shot 1000s of images in that tiny space of time. I politely tried to advise him but to no avail. He didn’t see the motherly advice. Instead he decided to swear me. I wasn’t pleased at all….

  • vidushi mishra

    Many couple doesnโ€™t focus more on pre wedding photo shoot. There are several reasons to book a pre
    wedding photo shoot. Every couple should consider this as important as wedding
    day photography.

  • This information is just so awesome for candid wedding photographers and the one who has interest in candid wedding photography

  • kishorn

    Thank you for a good post. I would add http://wildclickz.com/blog/ here you can get cameras, lenses for rental and can read blogs related to cameras,photography,lenses.

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