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Why I love candid wedding photos: My style for shooting weddings

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One thing about me: I'm not here for the stiff, posed group shots, fake laughs or traditional expectations. Rather than orchestrating your wedding around a preconceived idea of what your wedding photos should look like, I prefer to take a documentary style approach.

But what does that really mean?

I document weddings the way I learned how to document events when I was studying photojournalism in college. That means I'm anticipating emotions and reactions and doing my best to make sure I'm in the right place at the right time to get all the important moments on camera.

What exactly is candid wedding photography?

Candid wedding photography is one of the most popular styles of wedding photography today. Candid wedding photography is all about capturing spontaneous and unscripted moments as they happen, without any staged poses or formal arrangements.

The beauty of candid wedding photography is that it's all about capturing real emotions, reactions, and moments. The photographer's role is to document the wedding day as it unfolds, without interrupting or directing the couple or their guests. This approach results in a collection of natural, authentic, and candid images that truly capture the essence of the day.

My style for shooting portraits as a candid wedding photographer

My strategy for shooting a wedding is an 80 / 20 split: 80% candid, documentary-style, in-the-moment wedding photography. And 20% editorial style portraits and detail shots. The combination of these two styles creates wedding galleries that tell the unique story of your day.

Don't get me wrong: I love a good portrait session. But those portrait moments should blend seamlessly with the structure of the day. Does the room you're getting ready in have a picturesque chair or backdrop? Is there a nice patch of light where you're doing your makeup? There are tons of portrait moments that can be captured throughout the day without having to dedicate large swaths of time to separate photo sessions.

There are certain combinations of family, friends, and wedding party photos that you’ll cherish forever. But I firmly believe that couples who have their photographers focus on capturing the candid moments throughout the wedding day as they play out naturally end up with the best photos 99 times out of 100.

My style for shooting with family, friends, and wedding guests

My goal is to blend with the wedding party and guests as seamlessly as possible so everyone feels comfortable being photographed. I completely understand not everyone loves being in front of a camera, so I do my best to make everyone feel at ease - I want the photos to add to the fun of the wedding day, rather than the cause of any stress.

This is where it helps to become less of a wallflower documenting from the sidelines and more of an active participant chatting and mingling with guests. The goal is to make everyone - from the couple themselves to the great grandparents to the shyest in the group feel as comfortable as possible on camera.

I always encourage clients to spend as much time with friends, family, and most importantly each other as they can on their wedding day rather than jam packing the schedule with a minute-by-minute plan.

Read on for tips on how to have an intentional wedding and how stay present on your wedding day.

My style for timing the photoshoots on your wedding day

I've been a part of weddings where it's felt like the photos have completely taken over the day - newlyweds being pulled away from their guests for never-ending portrait sessions plus never-ending combinations of wedding party photos and family group portraits. While yes I can absolutely understand the importance of getting a photo with your parents or your bridesmaids, I don't believe it should take up a significant chunk of the wedding day.

When you spend less time focusing on those group portraits and family photos, the more time you will have to interact with your guests naturally and the more time I have to capture you in your element with the people you want in your photos.

I love a creative group shoot like the one from this intimate Portland backyard wedding. Play around with nontraditional ideas and movement to create a unique look.

Why should you ask your wedding photographer to focus on the candids?

You'll feel more comfortable in front of the camera. One of the biggest advantages of candid wedding photography is that it allows the couple and their guests to feel more relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera. With no need to pose or act out staged scenes, everyone can just be themselves and enjoy the day without feeling self-conscious or pressured. And not only will you feel better and more laid back in front of the camera, the photos themselves will turn out better.

Feeling nervous because you're uncomfortable on camera? Read on to learn some tips on how to be comfortable on camera for your wedding day.

The candids make for better stories. Another advantage of candid wedding photography is that it can be more storytelling-oriented, capturing the whole story of the day from start to finish. Instead of just focusing on the key moments, a candid wedding photographer will be able to document all the little moments in between, such as the guests arriving, the couple getting ready, and the speeches and toasts. Overall, candid wedding photography is a beautiful and authentic way to capture the magic of a wedding day. By allowing the couple and their guests to just be themselves, the photographer can create a stunning collection of images that truly capture the love, joy, and happiness of the day.

Less planning on the couples part. The great thing about candid wedding photography? The couple doesn't have to do any extra planning. When a couple allows a photographer to capture the day as it unfolds it frees up the couple the enjoy the day as it happens rather than getting caught up in a strict photo schedule. So much of the stress of a wedding day can come from the corralling of people for photos (something I strive to make as stress free as possible), but the best way to avoid this stress altogether is to have your wedding photographer focus less on the posed photos and more on the candids. When you’re not running around trying to get to a specific location for a long list of group photos by a certain time you have a lot more freedom to relax and enjoy the day - and still end up with gorgeous wedding photos you’ll cherish forever.

They'll be the photos you'll pass down to your grandkids. In every single wedding photo gallery I’ve delivered, the couples have always reacted most strongly to the candid wedding photos. There’s nothing better than capturing the happy tears of a mother of the bride hugging her daughter before the ceremony. Or the newlyweds at the center of a dance party at the end of the night - all smiles and hair flying. Those are the photos that will stay with you because those are the moments you’ll remember most - the poignant and intimate moments you share with family and friends when you let yourself just enjoy the experience.

You'll have more time to enjoy their wedding day. Wedding photographers know this better than most - group photos at a wedding are one of the biggest time sucks of the day. Endless combinations of friends family wedding party and guests can be a painful and draining experience for the couple who would rather be mingling drinking and dancing. (Add kids into the group photo mix and the time and stress triples). When you ask your wedding photographer to focus almost entirely on candids, you seriously reduce the amount of time you need to spend away from your guests and each other.

This is also why I recommend a wedding photo package with a minimum of 6-8 hours. I offer half-day packages as well but if you're dreaming of a wedding gallery that tells the story of your day from top to bottom, the full-day package is the one for you. Peep more of my wedding photography packages in this quick and dirty wedding photo guide for PNW couples.

Ready to take things to the next level? If you're looking for a fun Portland wedding photographer or Montana wedding photographer, I'd love to hear from you!


The shift toward candid wedding photos

The world of wedding photography has evolved significantly in recent years, with couples increasingly favoring candid, authentic moments over traditional posed shots. The year 2023 marks a new era in wedding photography, where couples seek skilled photographers who can capture their special day in a natural, unobtrusive manner. In this blog post, we'll explore not only why you should have your photographer focus on the candids but also how to pick that perfect wedding photographer. Deep dive into the essential qualities and factors to consider when choosing a candid wedding photographer in 2023.

How to find the right candid wedding photographer for you

It's fair to say all wedding photographers have experience capturing candid moments, but not all photographers excel at this style of photography. So when you're looking for a wedding photographer and want to prioritize the candids, here are some helpful tips on what to ask and what to look out for.

The best candid wedding photographers are skilled at capturing fleeting moments of emotion, whether it's a tearful embrace between the bride and her mother, a spontaneous laugh shared between the groom and his best man, or a quiet moment of reflection between the couple. Experienced candid wedding photographers are able to anticipate those poignant moments before they happen and position themselves accordingly to capture the shot.

First things first: if you know you want to prioritize candid photography for your wedding day, look for a photographer who is known for their candids. You can determine this on your own by checking out their portfolio or social profiles to see how they capture candids and how much of their portfolio is made up of that style of photography. Does their website or bio talk about being documentary-style or in-the-moment focused? Those are keywords that mean they prioritize the candids.

Here are 10 questions to ask your Portland wedding photographer to make sure it's the right fit.

A talented candid wedding photographer has the ability to tell a captivating story through their images. They should have a keen eye for details, capturing both the significant moments and the subtle nuances of your special day. Look for a photographer who understands the flow of a wedding, anticipates important moments, and can create a visual narrative that will transport you back to that day for years to come.

Candid wedding photography relies heavily on the photographer's ability to blend in seamlessly with the wedding party and guests. Look for a photographer who is not only talented but also possesses exceptional interpersonal skills. They should be able to make people feel at ease, allowing them to express genuine emotions without feeling self-conscious. A personable photographer who can establish a rapport with you and your guests will help create a relaxed atmosphere, resulting in more natural and beautiful photographs.

Beyond that, you need a photographer with enough experience to roll with the punches. Weddings are unpredictable, and things may not always go as planned. A skilled candid photographer knows how to adapt to changing circumstances without compromising on the quality of their work. They should be able to capture unexpected moments, handle different lighting conditions, and work within the constraints of the venue. Flexibility is key to ensuring that all the precious moments of your wedding day are captured flawlessly.

Take the time to choose a candid wedding photographer who is reliable, professional, and has a good reputation. They should be punctual, organized, and responsive to your queries. Take the time to read reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gain insights into their work ethic and commitment to customer satisfaction. A professional photographer will have clear contracts, transparent pricing, and open communication channels to ensure a smooth experience from start to finish.

In 2023, candid wedding photography continues to be in high demand as couples seek photographers who can capture their special day authentically. When choosing a candid wedding photographer, look for a strong portfolio of candid work, technical proficiency, emotional intelligence, storytelling skills, flexibility, and professionalism. Remember, finding the right photographer is a personal choice, so take the time to meet and connect with potential candidates to ensure they align with your vision. With the right photographer by your side, you can rest assured that your wedding day will be beautifully documented, allowing you to relive those cherished moments for a lifetime.

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