How to Achieve Natural and Candid Photographs on Your Wedding Day
By Matt Lowe of Field Photographic
Choosing the style of your wedding photography must feel like a minefield when starting your search for a photographer! Over the past 30 years of my professional photography career I’ve carefully honed a style that seems really popular with everybody - it’s actually a mixture of photographic styles that I switch between throughout the day. In this post I’m concentrating on my most requested style - candid and natural shots.
Sometimes referred to a documentary-style, or reportage, a lot of my photographs are shot in a very informal way. I like to wander. Sometimes I’m right in the middle of the action, sometimes I’m looking in from a distance, just observing, and waiting for a perfect shot.
So what can you do to get the best informal candid shots from your wedding? Here are a few ideas...
One: Ignore me when I ask you to! This might seem obvious, but it’s understandably difficult to do in practice. Also brief your parents and guests to try to do the same, let them know the style of photographs we’re trying to achieve. At our pre-wedding consultation we’ll talk through your day step-by-step, and at certain times I ask my couples to just carry on as if I’m not there. I have my ‘being in charge’ times, and my ‘blending in’ times :)
Two: Relax. Sure, another obvious one, but it’s important. Once the ceremony is all done, you will relax a lot more, I promise! That’s when I want to be floating around to capture things. The wedding day flies by, enjoy your time together and with your families, and forget about me!
Three: Following on from rule 2. Don’t wonder or worry about where I am, or what’s being covered. With 30 years’ experience, I know the moments to look out for, so you can rest assured I’ll be somewhere covering something, usually it will be something that you will tell me you never knew happened when you get your photographs!
Four. Let’s meet up and chat through things. Don’t spend your wedding day with a stranger wandering around with a camera! The more time we can spend together before the day, the more natural things feel on the day. This is especially important if you have children. We never get the best shots of kids when they're under orders to stand still, smile nicely, and behave. The best shots happen after that part, when we can go play games in the garden, or hunt fairies in the fields :)
Five: Why not add an engagement photo shoot? It’s a great chance for another get-together and to spend some time getting used to being comfortable in front of the camera. Plus prints make a great present for mums and dads ;)
Six: Talk about timings. Build a schedule with lots of time for breaks. The best documentary-style shots can’t be forced, they have to just happen, and they will, but not necessarily within the 20 minute time frame allotted for photographs. The longer I have to wander and shoot, the more chance of better informal shots.
Seven. Book a photographer you’re comfortable with. We’re a big part of your wedding day, us photographers! We see the preparations, the ceremony, and we’re sometimes there until into the evening. You need somebody around that you know you can get along with. It’s vital to meet your photographer at least once or twice, even if it’s just a brief chat at a wedding fair - you’ll get the right vibe from the right person.
Eight. Don’t overlook our photowalk. This is the time of the afternoon when I’ll want to drag you away for a wander around the grounds of the venue to get a few shots of you two together. Yes there’s an element of organisation and, dare I say it, ‘posing’ here, but a lot of the shots featured here were taken in between those posey shots. It’s when we’re just wandering around, chatting and having a laugh, and guess what, that looks great on photographs, so let’s do it!
Nine. Don’t forget the official shots. Sounds counterintuitive, but actually having an official photocall for everybody after the wedding ceremony gathers all your guests together and sets us up for getting some great shots of people chatting and laughing as they catch up with folks they probably haven’t seen for ages. Plus, you do still need official shots, you really, honestly do! You don’t need to spend more than 15-20 minutes getting them though, as long as we’re all organised in advance :)
Ten. Don’t censor yourself. This one is a big ask, but I think it’s important. Here goes - don’t worry about getting a few shots of yourself that you won’t like. I’m not talking about bad portraits or anything like that - the official shots will look lovely. I’m talking about that shot when you’re having a laugh with your bestie bridesmaid, glass of fizz in hand, head thrown back, mouth wide open. That’s a moment of pure joy. It’s not a time to worry about those two teeth you don’t like that are on show, or the wrinkle around your closed eye. In that moment, none of that matters, and I guarantee you none of that ever matters to your loved ones. That’s the shot that will take them back to that perfect day, and they will treasure it. Go easy on yourself.
I hope that little collection of rules is of help, if you like the sound of my approach and the look of my images, please follow along on Instagram & Facebook, and visit www.fieldphotographic.com to have look through some galleries, read a few comments from past couples, and get in touch so I can check your date.