What is candid wedding photography?

We often hear the term “candid wedding photography”, but what does it mean? For photographers ‘candid’ means that the subject in the photo is not looking straight into the camera. But that’s very simply put. In my opinion, when it comes to wedding photography, there are several levels of ‘candid’. Which lead me to writing this blog post.

1. Documentary style: as candid as it gets

The first level of candid wedding photography is documentary style. It is also referred to as photo journalism. A documentary photographer is someone who’s strictly there as an observer. They will show the wedding events exactly as they are happening.

I’m simplifying the term a little bit, because documentary style can go far in terms of “documenting things as they are”. Including photographers who opt for lenses that are close to what the human eye sees. Others will go even further by never cropping or altering the content of a photo in post production. That said, when wedding photographers use the term documentary or photo-journalistic, they usually mean a hands-off approach and no manipulating of the content in photos afterwards (such as changing people’s appearance or removing objects).

Some wedding photographers document an entire wedding day like this. They’ll skip on the formal portraits and instead photograph the wedding couple mingling with their guests and having a good time. Other photographers apply the documentary style during select parts of the day.

Jelger and I won’t interfere with anything during the ceremony. We’re flies on the wall. But during other parts of the day, we’ll intervene to make a scene look better. For example: we remove clutter or a piece of furniture when it makes the photo stronger.

2. Candid with a nudge

This is certainly not an official term, haha, but it’s the kind of candid that I like and it describes it best! For me this comes into play in two different scenarios.

The portraits

While a lot of couples love photos that have that unposed feel to them, they are a little nervous about having their photo taken. And because they’re not professional models, they don’t know what to do in order to look their best. It’s also not their job to know this, that’s why they hire a professional wedding photographer!

Jelger and I love to start our clients off in a certain pose or setting and from there give them a task or activity to do. For instance, we’ll tell them a subject to talk about, or have them do a movement. That way they forget all about the photos and we do get those real candid moments. But we got there with a little nudge. 😉

The rest of the day

I’m personally not a fan of looking at a wedding day as one big staged photo shoot. However, the same nudge can work wonders in terms of “lets move you getting ready over here” because the light is better. It doesn’t interfere with your experience, but improves the look of your photos significantly!

3. Posed candid

Some photographers are masters at making posed photos look 100% candid.

To achieve this result, the photographer will tell direct you in every step towards the results. They’ll tell exactly what to do, where to look and how to move your body. It’s a very hands-on approach, which means the experience will be entirely different from the previous nudged candid. There’s nothing spontaneous about posed candid photos.

It’s important to chat with your photographer about how they work! If you know you want someone who is very hands-on and directs you in every little step, this is them! But when the experience and the actually “living those moments” matters, you might want to find someone who’s more of a nudger. 🙂

4. Candid that isn’t candid

“Candid” is a common term in wedding photography. Some photographers just use it on their website, because it’s a popular search term in combination with wedding photography, even if their photography has an obviously posed look. When you’re browsing through a wedding portfolio and everyone in the photos is looking at the camera in all the shots, that’s definitely not candid photography.

Whatever the style of wedding photography or level of candidness you decide to go with, let your gut be your guide. If you like it, go for it! 😉 And have fun!

If you’d like more info about how we photograph our couples, don’t hesitate to get in touch!