October 23, 2022

How To Get The Best Candid Photos at your Wedding


Capturing authentic moments that become some of the best candid photos at your wedding is way more than pose direction or prioritizing movement. It’s about creating an environment with an intentional focus on the completely unposed, unplanned moments.

Imagine looking back on your wedding years later and not only remembering the sweet portraits of you and your spouse but also your grandparents wiping their tears, hugs exchanged with your siblings, or the way your little niece looked at you that day. I truly believe these candid pockets of time deserve to be celebrated just as much as the big moments do, because they give you the whole picture of your wedding while encapsulating the joyous feelings you experienced all those years ago.

As a documentary style wedding photographer, capturing weddings in a candid way is something I specialize in. Keep reading to find out how to get the best candid photos at your wedding, based on my experience.

1. Create a Flexible Timeline

The more flexibility you have in your timeline, the more free time there is! In other words, you won’t feel rushed and can take your time easing into every phase of your wedding day. Flexible timelines also allow for more opportunities for candid moments to happen naturally. Not only will you get the best candid photos at your wedding, but you’ll also have a better, more relaxed experience during the day! Win, win.

2. Do a First Look

I often recommend doing a first look for couples looking to prioritize candid photos on their wedding day (this is also perfect for couples who want to spend as much time together as possible on the big day). Doing a first look allows us to take portraits in a reserved chunk of time before your ceremony (rather than squeezing them in during some other time). This gives you ample time to take your portraits without missing your entire cocktail hour! Similar to the last tip, you’ll not only get you more photos in the end, but first looks help to ease your nerves and will make you feel more relaxed overall.

The more relaxed you are – and the more time we have – the more space we’ll have to get creative and allow for moments between you and your partner to happen organically.

3. Book a Second Shooter

Having a second shooter means that while I’m focusing on the “main action” (aka the newlyweds!), my second can be focusing on smaller details and interactions. Whether that means I’m capturing the exchange of rings during the ceremony, or family photos during cocktail hour – my second photographer can capture what’s happening outside my frame. For example, your parents’ reactions as you exchange rings, your friends toasting to your marriage while you’re busy with family photos, or laughs and tears during speeches.

Trust me, these moments often end up being some of the best candid photos at your wedding. You won’t want to miss them! Having two photographers just means there’s more opportunity to capture all moments as they unfold, however big or small. If you’re still on the fence about having a second photographer, read about all the reasons to have one here.

the best candid wedding photos

4. Hire a Documentary Style Photographer

It seems obvious, but hiring a photographer whose shooting style aligns with your vision makes all the difference! Do your research and find a photographer who specializes in documentary style wedding photography, rather than one who approaches weddings like it’s a shoot on a set (i.e. lots of posing and contrived ‘moments’).

In addition to hiring the right photographer for you, I always recommend to my couples to add an engagement session before the wedding. It helps you get super comfy in front of the camera but also with your photographer! I’ve found that the couples who do this feel so much more relaxed and at ease on their wedding day because we’ve cultivated a more personal relationship beforehand. It’s basically like having a friend come and shoot your wedding day, which I have to admit is pretty much the best.

BONUS TIP: if you’re hiring a documentary wedding photographer, the same goes for hiring a videographer!! If you’re going to hire a videographer, make sure you hire a team that can work together cohesively. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been documenting a wedding, trying to let my couples just *be*, when the videographer comes in and tells them to re-zip up the dress three different times (I’ve even heard videographers say “ACTION” like they’re directing a movie). Not the vibe you want! Whatever vision you have in mind for capturing candid photos on your wedding day, make sure that both your photo and video team is on the same page as you.

5. Be Present Throughout your Wedding Day

Last but not least – be present! It seems self explanatory, but really try and make a conscious effort to soak it all in and be present. Try to forget that there are even cameras there, and direct your focus to your partner and the people there supporting you and everything else will fall into place. I always say that your photos should be about your wedding, not the other way around.

End all and be all: the day flies by. If you give yourself enough time to truly relax and be present, the rest will follow naturally.

Want the Candid Moments at Your Wedding Documented?

If you’re interested in working with a documentary style wedding photographer on your big day, you can get in touch through my contact form, here. To browse through more documentary style wedding photos, you can look through some of my recent work, here!