Quite often, I hear from my clients things like “I didn’t know I was being photographed”, “Wow! I love these candid shots, totally in the moment” or “I never would have guessed this photo would be my favorite, it’s so natural and genuine…” As you might have guessed, we’re talking about capturing weddings as they unfold, in the moment…Candidly.
Photojournalism or “Candid’s” are currently all the rage. Everyone seems to be asking for this preferred photography style…the natural, uncontrived, candid style. I have always considered myself more of a candid and modern type of photographer. Shooting in a straightforward manner creates so much more real beauty for my wedding clients, we are able to truly capture the magic of their day. Where did it come from and what does it actually mean to me and to my clients?
Long ago, my early photos were captured on 35mm film. The first images I was inspired to captured were still life photos with my parent’s point and shoot film camera. When I started to take my photography more seriously and to consider it professionally, film was barely hanging on by a thread. Nowadays, most of us look back at our parent’s wedding albums (probably any wedding pre 2000) consisting of fewer images and more posed shots. Back in the day, wedding clients would view “proof books”, a compilation of all the slides from the wedding day shoot to build their album. Typically a proof book would only consist of a few hundred photos, limiting creativity and ability to capture those genuine, hidden, and impromptu moments throughout a wedding day. Jobs were quoted by how many rolls of film would be used. 8 rolls @ 36 exposures would provide a client with 288 photos max. These days an average 8 hour wedding day shoot will produce around one thousand (1,000) images, more than three times as many as when our parents were married.
When film is the only option for a wedding photo shoot, a photographer is unable to view the images in real time on their camera screen, less chances are take, and only handful of candid moments are captured. Photographers were limited and would plan each and every shot very carefully. “Stand here please…give me a moment to adjust my flash and check the light:, “Ok, look at me…hold that” , “ I need to adjust the settings. Ok, look at each other, drop your hip, stand up straight, tilt your head to the left”… “everybody look this way, smile” , “hold that, keep holding” – CLICK! “Lets try that again, this time look at me, head down…don’t blink, smile please…” CLICK! “Hold on… Johnny moved and Sara, you blinked, lets try that again…” The life of a wedding photographer back in the days of film was much less creative, natural, and real…much less candid.
As a modern day wedding photographer, we capture every moment flowing with the event and the reception, following along as the day unfolds. The Bride and Groom prep, details of the dressing, the first look, wedding party portraits and group shots, travel in the limo, bus, or trolley, the actual ceremony, family formals, more of the wedding party, cocktail hour, detail shots of the reception, table shots, introductions, cake cutting, speeches, first dances, dance floor fun shots, tossing of the garter and bouquet, more dancing, more traditions, some sunset shots, end of the night moments, and anyone in the family dancing with Grandma and Grandpa… and on and on…don’t forget to add just about anything else that happened during your special day…what ever it is, I will be there and try to capture all of it.
The images that are almost always missing from older wedding albums are of the bride and groom actually with their guests having a blast at the wedding. I hope for my clients to be able to share their wedding photos with someone new in their life, perhaps their children or a new friend or family member, whomever that might be, that this person will envision the complete and beautiful story of their wedding day through the images in their wedding album.
As people say “a photo is worth a thousand words…” There’s a story for every photo, photos that were posed and others that were Candid…caught in the moment…unbridled joy and happiness that isn’t staged or canned. All the photos above are from candid moments from some of the weddings I’ve captured in 2018. I would consider a candid photo, a photo when subject wasn’t aware of being captured. With a few caveats at times, people would see me nearby then turn and look with little time for planning and smile…and I don’t mean a smile you always see in a staged photo…they’re glowing.
There are a few grey areas however, the many planned moments during a weddings, the kiss, the speeches, cutting of the cake, the first dances and so many more. There are no do overs, or interjections allowed at these points in a wedding day, and an expert wedding photographer must capture these moments as they happen. These occasions are uniquely beautiful and telling of the couple and their special day, but on the fringe of each moment lies a candid, genuine moment as well. In order to photograph a wedding the photographer needs to overcome the lighting conditions, how to adapt to timing, whom is needed in each planned shot, and what the bride and groom want to capture. Many times candids are not the best photos aesthetically, as their beauty is more raw and imperfect…but they almost always are the most fun images and are the photos years later that get you to laugh out loud while reminiscing about how Grandma had a few too many drinks and danced with one of the Groomsmen…you know those cherished photos that bring you back to the moment, bring a tear to your eye.
Can an entire wedding be captured in a candid style? My professional opinion is that it can not be done. A great wedding photographer must allow for both staged and candid images. Some of the most printed photos are the family formals and the staged ones of the wedding party. Often times, family and friends travel from near and far to celebrate the bride and groom on their special day. It is the perfect time to get those nice looking symmetrical photographs…a photograph for future generations, one for historical reference. Without being too forced or over posed it is the photographers job to ensure the bride and groom look their best and to guide them when to turn a bit, put a hand on a hip, hold hands together, or to look at the camera. I’m not the kind of photographer to take an overly posed photo of the Groom looking solemnly off into the void, or to the sky towards that flock of sea gulls in the distance, while his lovely bride stares longingly at the camera while resting herself upon his arm. I’d rather capture the genuine and real magic that is shared and real between the bride and groom at their wedding candidly.