We love documentary wedding photography and the lovely relaxed images it produces. Like many things that look effortless though, it clearly isn’t and there’s definitely an art to capturing informal, spontaneous wedding photos without them looking either too messy or too posed.
The very best informal documentary images have a lively or tender “just captured the moment” feel to them. Done badly, it can appear as if the whole thing was staged & people look uncomfortable, or they can look like someone’s just clicked away randomly & there’s no focus to the shot – it isn’t telling a story.
So what is the art to capturing these moments in time well, without them looking staged? It is about capturing people unawares but still with a relevance to the story you are telling.
Of course every documentary wedding shoot has a number of loosely posed images, usually when the photographer whisks the couple away to enjoy a tender quite moment or two, but again, the best photographers here will compose the outline of the shot and just let the couple enjoy the moment, capturing the essence of the couple just being in love.
How Do Photographers Capture a Good Spontaneous Image ?
Many documentary wedding photographers tell us that they like to ‘shoot from the hip’ – basically carrying their camera as though you are not using it and getting shots of people without them realising. A telephoto lens is also a must, as it allows the photographer to stand well away from their intended subject and hopefully snap away without them seeing you but still maintain that feeling of intimacy.
A lens with a wide aperture will mean any objects in the foreground will be softly focused and will not draw the eye away from your intended subject. If possible shooting without using a flash, as this will obviously draw attention.
Telling The Story of The Day
We are always really blown away by a gorgeous set of wedding photos that tell the story of a couple’s big day. You know the ones; that show people interacting and enjoying themselves. The one’s that show real emotion, the bride enjoying that special time with her father as she reaches the alter, the groom’s mum shedding a tear and the inevitable embarrassment of the groom during the best man’s speech.
There’s also nothing better than animated groups, where members of the wedding party are so caught up in the moment and having fun that they’re totally unaware of the camera.
End of the day, couple departing shots are always popular, as everyone is so happy and relaxed in these as they gather to send the happy couple onto their next big adventure.
The Art of Blending In
This is so much more difficult than it looks and there’s a real art in your photographer blending in unobtrusively with your guests. As one of our photographer’s told us a while ago:
“If they look like they have spotted me then I make out like others are my intended target and they soon relax. Whilst I am doing this I am framing the shot in my head so when everything is perfect then the shot is in the bag! Once I have my picture I move on, if I have been there for a while and the guests are spread out then I will move rooms or go outside.” This reinforces what we were saying earlier about the art of appearing spontaneous! And it works so well.
Feeling Comfortable With your Wedding Photographer
As your photographer will be with you for most if not all of your day, it’s so important to choose someone who’s on your wavelength and that you’re really comfortable with.
Many photographers offer a pre- wedding shoot which is brilliant, as it not only gives you a lovely set of relaxed photos to treasure, it enables you to get to know your photographer better and really feel comfortable with them.
By the time you get to your wedding day I want you should feel totally relaxed having your photographer around and just enjoy your day and let them get on with what they’re doing.
The more your photographer mingles with your guests, chatting with those who want to chat, the more relaxed everyone becomes around the camera and so many of our photographers tell us that they love it when couples tell them that having them there was just like having another guest.
Capturing a Tender Moment
Back to those tender moments again and we can never get enough of all those beautiful moments of the couple alone for a moment or two, just enjoying each other’s company.
We love the candid shots that emerge from this special time, with a ‘posed but not posed’ image against a great backdrop, or a photo take by the photographer while the couple wander or even ride into the distance.
Feature Image Credits: From the large image clockwise: Rachel Mannns Weddings, Rachel Manns Weddings, Babb Photo, Claire Juliet Paton, Fox & Owl, Vivienne Elizabeth Photo.