Candid photos are the most impactful when you get a feeling of genuine emotion, whether in the form of joy, sadness, or anything in-between. Capturing honest feelings (and having it translate with a still image) is no easy task, especially if you are naturally a shy person and you and your soon-to-be-spouse don’t love the idea of a day-long camera interaction. To get an idea of how to take the best candid photos, we spoke to the experts on how to act natural when it comes to taking candid photographs of your own.
Embracing your surroundings (whether that’s the skyline of your chosen city, the natural landscape of your ceremony site, or the front lawn of a private residence), is one way our experts produce effortlessly candid photos. Capturing sparks of spontaneous interaction in front of your wedding’s unique setting will bring even more magic to your day of photographs. From getting ready with your bridesmaids to the final moments of your after-party, there are plenty of opportunities to create plenty of impromptu charm. If you’re looking for how to add even more touches of spontaneity to your wedding day album, then we suggest reading these tips from some of the best photographers in the industry, a lesson in never again having to pose for the camera.
Capture your scenery
Kat Braman, owner of Kat Braman, makes sure to showcase a couple’s chosen landscape when capturing candid moments. “A major focal point for a couple’s day of, staging a photo where the scenery is the highlight makes for breathtaking photos that encourage a spontaneous feel,” she says.
Stay present pre-ceremony
Charlotte Jenks Lewis, owner of Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography, believes in encouraging closeness by gathering people into smaller more intimate spaces, a strategy she used to capture this candid “getting ready” shot between a bride and her loved ones.
Have fun with your bridal party
As token guests on your big day, your bridal party includes your VIP of girlfriends. Austin Trenholm, owner of Trenholm Photo, believes finding candid moments between a bride and her bridal party can translate into some of a wedding’s most effortless photos.
Showcase your chosen city
"For strikingly candid photos, we love taking our couples on a stroll through the iconic streets of New York City,” says Anthony Vazquez, founder of Anthony Vazquez Photography, who encourages that his couples interact with both the city and each other to produce stunning impromptu images.
Let your emotions shine through during vows
One of a ceremony’s most noteworthy moments, a vow exchange can lead to photos that are sentimental and unexpected. “Whether it’s tears, laughter, or a loving glance, it’s important to capture whatever this special moment brings,” Erich McVey, owner, Erich McVey.
Take a moment alone
Intimate moments captured before a bride’s walk down the aisle can translate into striking images later that reveal genuine feelings. “Find time to photograph your bride in her present state to really seize the day and any true emotions,” says Kelli Durham, owner, Kelli Durham.
Make sure you're comfortable with your photographer
Brittani and Jon Hon, owners of The Hons, believe capturing candid moments is as much about knowing your couple as it is about being in the right place to snap a photo. “Connecting with our couples allows us a window into their personalities, which enables us to anticipate what is coming during their day and capture that feeling for our couple,” they say.
Don't think about posing
Framing images to capture some of a wedding’s most intimate details is one approach Jeanann Wilkinson, owner of J Wilkinson Co, relies on when capturing candid day of shots. “As a wedding photographer, it’s so important to capture the intimate moments but to be aware as to not intrude by over posing, Wilkinson says. “This direction often supports the most authentic results.”
Let your wedding party shine
Even though the focus is mainly on the couple during their wedding day, much of the attention is also on their surrounding wedding party, a factor Roey Yohai, owner of Roey Yohai Studios, considers when capturing plenty of unposed moments. “Our goal is to capture the myriad of emotions from the joy, excitement, surprise, etc.,” Yohai mentions. “It’s the magic that happens in a split second."
Do a first look
“First looks are a great opportunity for the couple to share in the excitement and anticipation of seeing one another,” says Ashley Sawtelle, owner of Ashley Sawtelle. Snapping photos of a pair’s honest emotion results in effortlessly candid images.
Take a moment after the ceremony
One of the most celebratory moments of a couple’s entire day, the walk down the aisle, post-vows, provides a rare first glimpse into a pair’s initial moments of being married. Brian Dorsey, founder of Brian Dorsey Studios, believes a couple should take time after the ceremony to focus on one another. “When couples do this, it provides beautiful photo opportunities for emotional and meaningful candid shots that will help you relive that feeling forever,” Dorsey says.”
Don’t stress about time
Julia Franzosa, owner of Julia Franzosa Photography, believes that creating a thoughtful day-of timeline can help cut down stress and create a proactive photo schedule. “Booking your photographer for an extra hour, and having flexibility in your schedule, will leave more room for you to enjoy stress-free, candid moments with your love, friends, and family,” Franzosa says.
“Whenever things start to feel stale, I always suggest a little walk,” recommends Liz Banfield, owner at Liz Banfield, who encouraged her bride and members of her bridal party to take a stroll that sparked this breathtaking candid image.
Encourage the use of props
Sometimes all you need is a good prop to stir up a candid response, the tactic Greer Gattuso, owner of Greer Gattuso, used for a couple and their New Orleans nuptials. “These gorgeous lace umbrellas were perfect for inspiring this snapshot-worthy kiss!” Gattuso says.
Capture moments with your guests
"I always keep a watchful eye on my couples after they enter the reception space for the evening,” explains Kent Drake, owner of Kent Drake Photography. “This is often the first time they'll greet many of their guests, and emotions are running at a high,” Drake adds. Capturing the moments of joy between a couple and their loved ones can tell so much about the feeling in the room, a feeling that can be felt through a perfectly candid photo.
Utilize moments in transit
Britt, owner of BrittRene Photography, kept the momentum of the day going by capturing this striking impromptu photo of a bride in transit. “This beautiful image really captured the feeling of the moment, the butterflies and anticipation of heading to the church to see her love,” she says, adding, “not to mention, her gorgeous bridal details like this all-white bouquet.”
Highlight the first dance
All things emotional, joyous, and celebratory, a couple’s first dance is such a symbolic event in their day. Capturing this special occasion on film is one thing Miki and Sonja, founders of Miki and Sonja, make sure to consider when finalizing day of shots. “The first dance is always such a beautiful experience for a couple, an experience we are sure to document through photography,” they say.
Expect the unexpected
“Meaningful moments always develop organically at every wedding, and we have to be vigilant looking out for them,” says Melani Lust, owner of Melani Lust Photography, adding, “These moments can be the scripted or unscripted ones.” This striking photo of a very unsuspecting groom made for a standout image filled with emotion and spontaneity.
The best candid photos come from capturing feelings of impulsive joy. Parris Whittingham, founder of From Parris, With Love, believes the most “real moments” happen when you give a couple room to relish their day. “My overall tip is, give yourself permission to enjoy each person and moment of the day,” he says, adding, “Let go of the need to ‘do it right’ or control the flow and just be present and trust that it's all working out.”