Weddings have changed drastically in the past few years. Couples want more from a wedding these days, they don’t want the traditional, normal photography anymore. They frequently ask for documentary or candid wedding photography because it captures the emotions of not only the couple, but also the guests enjoying themselves without lining them up in front of the camera. But, candid photography is so much more than just pointing your camera at people and shooting away to glory. You, as a photographer, need to know and understand the finer nuances involved in candid wedding photography; you need to know how to get good candid shots without people noticing you. Here are five tips to shoot a wedding in a lovely, unobtrusive and candid way which would make the entire task much easier for you.
1. Always be ready
The prime tip for candid wedding photography which I can give is, to be always ready. By that, I mean you must always keep an eye out for moments, and keep that camera ready. Your camera needs to be in your hands and ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. You must set the camera according to the light conditions (settings like the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc.) so that you don’t need to fiddle around with the settings while things happen in front of you. (IMG_7211)
2. Know your equipment
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen photographers miss the shot while they are trying to change the camera settings. You must know the equipment that you are using, inside out. It helps to gauge the light conditions and set the camera accordingly, so that you don’t miss the events that would warrant a picture. It might very well be helpful to have a smaller camera handy, in addition to that big bulky DSLR, just incase.
3. Use a telephoto zoom lens
Candid photography is all about taking pictures of the bride, groom, guests, etc., from a distance without them noticing you. Nothing will be more helpful in achieving this than a fairly long telephoto zoom lens. I regularly use lenses like a 100mm, 70-200mm or even a 100-400mm when I need to capture those emotions, those candid moments. You can, of course, use any lens you want (something like a 50mm could be helpful too!). But, since candid photography is all about being unobtrusive and capturing those emotions in a natural way, I would suggest using a zoom lens. What it essentially does is helps maintain the intimacy of the picture being taken, which is so important in wedding photography.
4. Do not use flash
One sure-fire way of getting people to notice you is to use a flash (whether it be the onboard one, or an external flash gun). Not only this, light from a flash can be so unflattering and boring, to put it simply. If there is a dearth of light, you as a photographer need to find other ways to brighten up the scene that you are photographing, either by opening up the aperture, increasing the ISO, slowing up the shutter (to an acceptable range), etc. I understand that by increasing the ISO a little too much, you might include a fair bit of noise into the picture, but the idea is to capture the moment, and there are times when noise is actually a good thing.
5. Foresee or plan ahead
As a candid wedding photographer, it is your job to foresee what is going to happen, or at least take your best calculated guess. If possible, I’d suggest you visit the location before the wedding so that you can scout out some good locations for taking pictures. If you are unable to go visit the location beforehand, then at least reach the venue well before the function is to start. That way you can scout out not only some great locations to take pictures from, but you can perhaps even scope out the main rooms that will be used for the wedding and the reception. A little bit of planning goes a long way in getting some great shots.
I hope these top five tips will help you the next time you are out photographing a wedding in a candid, documentary style.