How to Capture Candids & Tell a Story in Your Wedding Photos

Are you ready to capture candids and tell a story in your wedding photography?
Perhaps you’ve finally mastered the wedding day shot list and timeline, and you feel like you’ve nailed the basic wedding photography skills.
You’re finally moving past thinking that weddings are stressful and ready to embody your role as a storyteller.
In this article, we’ll go further into refining your storytelling skills by discussing how to capture candids and how to use them to tell a story.
I’ve been photographing weddings for over a decade and believe that the best way to battle burnout and continue improving your craft is to view each wedding as unique.
The best way to do so is to embrace storytelling, not just photography.

Candid Wedding Photography and Storytelling

In previous articles which I’ll list below, I’ve discussed the importance of learning to capture candids.
Couples want authentic wedding photography that helps them remember their wedding day and how it actually happened.
Many couples want a relaxed experience that focuses on their love and the marriage ahead, and photography that compliments that.
Photographs are the one thing people keep from the wedding day that have the power to transport them back in time.
Sure, they may wear their rings, frame their vows, and dry their flowers.
But when it comes to triggering memories, nothing has the same power as a well-shot candid wedding photo.
When I walk into a friend’s house and see their wedding photos on their walls or in their wedding album, I get a glimpse of how they looked but also a connection to how they felt.
It’s not the meticulously shot photos that have a big impact as much as the ones that capture genuine emotion.
More Reading on Capturing Candids
If you want to understand a particular aspect of capturing candids, the following articles will dive deeper into different aspects of candid wedding photography.
From how to capture emotions to the importance of capturing transitions, candids are more than just snapshots.

What Candids Are and What They Aren’t

As I said above, candids are more than just snapshots.
Sometimes, people think that candids are easy because they’re just unstaged snapshots that anyone could take.
The truth is that good candids actually take more work than staged shots.
In staged or posed wedding photography, the photographer can often control everything from the lighting to the backdrop to the pose that the people are in.

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Candids capture unstaged, unplanned moments – but that doesn’t mean the photographer just got lucky.
In the next section, we’ll talk about how the photographer had to be in the right place at the right time.
How to Shoot Candids
Shooting candids is all about being ready for unplanned moments to happen.
You don’t want to rely on luck. Instead, you want to anticipate when moments are happening.
With the right amount of planning and anticipation, you can be where you need to be before the moment happens.
You can also plan your lighting and composition to best compliment the candid you’re trying to capture.
Take a look at various candid photos in your portfolio or the portfolio of others.
Often, the best shots look effortless, but upon closer inspection, you realize that the photographer composed the shot with good light, composition, and presence in the moment.
They obviously had to wait for just the right moment and be in position ahead of time.
If you want to dive deeper into capturing candids, watch the video below or read through the resources I listed above.


Candids and Storytelling
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of candids and how to capture them, let’s tie them into visual storytelling.
Candids often tell a story in a single wedding photo, but they can also tell a story in a sequence.
In this section, we’ll talk through the different ways to use your candids for better wedding photography storytelling.
Telling a Story in a Single Wedding Photo
First, we do want each photo to tell its own story.
We don’t want to rely on a sequence or set of images for them to have meaning.
Instead, each photo can stand alone and tell its own micro story.
Let’s talk through some ways to make an individual candid tell a deeper story.
If you utilize high-contrast lighting, the photo will tell a moodier or more dramatic story than if you use airy soft light.
Similarly, you can use dramatic composition techniques or more minimalistic ones, and they will have different impacts on your images.
When choosing your framing, you’ll want to decide what details to include and exclude.
You might want to include more context about the room and the setting in order to tell a full story.

Telling a Story through Your Wedding Albums

I’m a huge fan of delivering wedding albums to my clients.
Before I started including them in my wedding packages, couples would end up with digital files because that’s all they think they need.
But why spend thousands of dollars on wedding photography and not have anything physical to show for it?
While digital files are awesome to have, a wedding album is much more impactful to look through.
Instead of viewing a wedding album as a way to squeeze all your favorite photos into one place for printing, think of it as a way to tell a story.
Choosing images that work together on a spread to create a certain feel can help the album viewing experience be more meaningful.
Wedding albums sit on coffee tables or bookshelves until someone picks them up.
When they do, they want to be able to imagine what the wedding day was like by flipping through the pages.
Sometimes it takes some client education to encourage a less cluttered design.
The photos that make the album are more important than the ones that don’t.
The album will generally have portraits so the couple can remember who was there, but the candids will tell more of a story of that person at the wedding.
Candids, emotional photos, and transitions can help ignite those special wedding day memories for years after the wedding.

Utilizing Slideshows and Image Sequences to Tell a Story

A long time ago, at the beginning of my wedding photography business, I learned from various photographers that how you deliver your photos matters.
For many photographers, an emotional delivery can help increase print sales.
While I don’t follow an in-person sales model that would result in emotional purchases from my couples, delivery still matters.
My work isn’t done until my client receives and loves their photos.
I love it when the first thing they see is a slideshow that tells the story of the day.
If told right, the story can build and ebb and flow, tugging on the heartstrings of my couples.
I want them to love their wedding photos as much as they love their memories of their wedding day because that’s what their photos are for.
Some client image galleries have built-in slideshows, or there are slideshow services where you can easily set images to music to engage all the senses.
When building a slideshow, don’t just select your top images but rather make sure the images you choose work together to tell a story.
You’ll notice a difference when you include transitions and moments from each part of the day to show everything from start to finish.
The photos all work together to tell a story.
Showing Storytelling on Your Blog and Website
You can use the same technique that you use to share images with your clients to share images with potential clients.
Whether you have sample weddings on your blog or featured galleries in your portfolio, telling a story about the wedding day will help a future potential bride picture how you will tell their story.
Again, don’t just share your best images, but showcase images that work together to tell a story.
A featured gallery is different than a portfolio; you want to show the breadth of your abilities and how you will capture each part of the day.
Utilizing storytelling on your blog and website will help you attract the right types of clients and set expectations with them of what working with you will be like.
This also plays an instrumental role in capturing better candids. If it’s what your clients expect, they’ll be prepared for that experience on the wedding day.

Summary of Candids and Storytelling for Weddings

Wedding photographers shoot portraits and action shots and details and everything in between.
When it comes down to it, wedding photographers are storytellers.
It’s our job to document the love and joy on a wedding day, and while that often includes some posed shots, it also includes a mastery of candids.
In this article, we discussed what candids are and how to shoot them.
Then, we discussed how to tell a story with our images either in a single photo or through a collection of images.
Beyond capturing the first kiss for hundreds of couples, which could get really boring over time, as a wedding photographer, you can tell the unique love story of each of your clients.
With this mindset, you can even shoot the same venue back to back but start to notice what makes the story different.
Maybe it’s the same setting but different weather, different characters, and different emotions.
Not only will we preserve our passion for storytelling in this way but we’ll better serve the couples that we work with.
As listed earlier, I’ve written a few different articles on the subject of candids and photojournalism to help you dive deeper into this aspect of your wedding photography.
Let me know what other aspects you want me to cover, and I wish you all the best on the next story you tell!

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