"Candid photography" and how to get it

Radian Photography

You want “candid” photography, but here is what you really want (& how to get it)

When couples come to us, they often tell us they love photographs that are “natural” or “organic” in nature. And when they see photos we’ve taken from others’ events or sessions, they say they love the feelings the images evoke. 

They describe this style as candid and want the same photos for their own wedding. 

Maybe you feel the same. You love the idea of having a beautiful mix of traditional and candid wedding photos that tell the whole story of your day. 

And we are definitely here to capture all those moments – directed or otherwise. 

But we’re willing to bet that when you say you want candids, you actually want something more complex than a “stolen moment.” 

Keep reading to discover what we mean and how you can get it.

What are candid photos? 

As photographers, we define candid images as photos taken without any interference “in the moment.” In other words, the photographer captures the image without specific posing or direction. 

When taking truly candid photos, a photographer doesn’t move a person’s body or position the camera. Instead, they capture what they see as they see it. In this scenario, directional light cannot be considered, let alone adjusted.  And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s not what most couples really want. 

bridesmaids seeing bride in dress

You see, directional lighting is where and how the light hits a subject. And when a photographer employs this technique, they can highlight a person from any direction to achieve a desirable effect.

However, when the lighting cannot be controlled, as with a truly candid moment, the end result isn’t always something you’d want to place in your album or frame on your wall.

So, when we peel away the layers of candid photography and get to the root of what couples really mean, we come up with something much more intentional. 

dinner guests clinking wine glasses at table

The Candid Photos You’re Really Searching For 

When you say you want candid wedding photos, what you’re really looking for is “artfully directed” photos. 

You want a photographer who pays attention to things like light, background, and whether the important people are in frame.  You want a photographer who pays attention to the moments that will matter one day: 

Your wedding party’s reaction to seeing you all dressed and ready.

The best man putting his hand on the groom’s back during an emotional moment. 

The flower girl looking longingly out the window as the guests arrive at the ceremony. 

groomsman helping groom through an emotional moment during wedding ceremony

You want someone who knows how to document the day with intentionality and someone who can put together an overall story – incorporating heirlooms and meaningful details. 

Photographers who offer art direction will consider what is important to you. Then, they will carefully craft a plan for capturing those things so that they become a seamless part of your wedding day images.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll have a camera in your face all day or that you won’t be able to enjoy your wedding because you’ll be too busy taking photos. Instead, when you hire the right photographers, you’ll be able to embrace the moments without sacrificing a beautiful mix of traditional and artfully-directed candid photos. 

bride and groom walking together at courthouse

How to Get the Candid Photos You Really Want

Candid photography can capture intimate, natural moments and look polished and elevated. But to get those photos, you need to have the right photographer carrying the camera. 

And what does the right photographer look like? Glad you asked!

A husband and wife team. Okay, we know this sounds biased, but we also know from experience how beneficial it is to hire a two-person team. While one photographer focuses on capturing more editorial images, the other focuses on getting those “in the moment” photos.

So many things happen on your wedding day, and the hours will fly by. And as much as you would love to be everywhere at once, soaking in every moment with every person, you’re only human. As your wedding photographers, we can be your extra eyes, capturing the big moments, the little details, and everything in between.  

bridesmaids helping bride get ready

Well prepared. This means hiring someone who will expertly handle the logistics and scout things out in advance. Do they have a plan if they get sick? Can they help with a photography timeline? Have they worked at your venue before? How will you receive your images, and what is the turnaround time? 

As we talked about in our post about 4 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Photographer, your photographer should be able to walk you through the fine print details. And they should be open to discussing any questions you may have throughout the planning process. 

flower girl watching guests arrive

Good communicator(s). You’ll be spending a lot of time with your wedding photographer, so you want to be able to fully trust them. We believe trust is built through communication. Someone who listens to you and gets to the heart of what you want by asking the right questions. 

When you’re talking with your photographer, how do they make you feel? Do they call or email when they say they will? Is communication clear? Do they value what you value? Will you actually want to hang out with this person for a significant amount of time? 

These things are often overlooked because they are the small, “unspoken” details. Still, they are oh-so-important when building a relationship with your photographer. A relationship built on trust.   

bride and groom embracing at courthouse wedding

Ability to direct. This means posing you without making you look stiff, unnatural, or unflattering. 

We told a story about one of Radhika’s friends in our blog post about the Foundations of Posing for Wedding and Engagement Photos. Long story short, this dear friend was ecstatic about seeing her wedding photos. But when she got them back, she felt nothing but disappointment. Ultimately, she didn’t like the way the photographer had posed her, and she felt the images put her in an unflattering light. 

Since then, we’ve made it our mission to become masters in posing. Because the last thing we want is for you to look back on your pictures and feel disappointed. 

wedding party at the carolina inn

On the same page. Last but certainly not least is letting your photographer know exactly what you’re looking for in terms of style. One of the best things you can communicate to a potential photographer is that you want documentary-style photos. 

Tell them you are looking for someone who can not only capture the essence of your day but intentionally work to understand what is most important to you. That way, they can carefully plan the day and craft those things into your overall wedding gallery. 

bride and groom walking together

We love helping our couples capture all the magical moments of their wedding day in a timeless, authentic, artistically-directed way. Using the magic of light, layering, and lots of love (for you and what we do!), we’ll get the photographs you really want – and more! 

If this sounds like what you really want, let’s talk.

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