The New Wave of Natural: Candid, Storytelling Wedding Photography
"Candid" has pretty much taken on a life of its own in our vocabulary as of late. In our instagram era, taking a 'candid' is a universally understood directive: take a photo of me where it looks like it wasn't posed/like I was having loads of fun/like I'm laughing at something and you caught me unaware/like I was entirely oblivious to the flashing camera you have in your hand (cross out as applicable.) Scroll through your feed nowadays and you're just as likely to see a half-blurry mid-giggle shot as you are a posed pre-night-out full-length photo. It's Instagram's response to Myspace's selfie-from-above.
That was a lovely paragraph Ellie, you might think - thanks very much - but why is it relevant to this wedding blog we hold so dear? Well, lemme tell you, friends. Candid photography is becoming more and more widespread in the wedding world too - but here, candid means something slightly different. Chloé from Fox & Owl says you could also describe candid wedding photography as 'documentary, reportage, storytelling'. But this is something a bit different from the candid photos in the nightclub toilets. Candid wedding photography still results in beautifully crafted, framed and captured snapshots of the day, like any wedding photography would - it just means your photographer will move around in the background more than chasing lists of family names in the foreground. Candid photography is also 'relaxed, natural, honest, contemporary, considered', says Chloé (Can you tell I've been writing university essays? All this is missing is a Harvard reference...not that I know how to do those). They'll capture you in the moment and not ask you to break from it. Instead, they'll capture you at the moment's peak: at your happiest, your most intense, your most passionate, your most tearful, your most joyful, your giggliest, your most reflective, your most grateful. All of these fleeting emotions, held in the final words before the doors of the ceremony, in stolen glances across the room, and in fits of laughter at the reception, can be captured completely unspoiled by candid, narrative styles of shooting.
This style of photography is ideal for you don't think you're photogenic, or if the idea of posing for hundreds of photographs on your big day is filling you with dread. Instead of having files upon files of you squeezing out an uncomfortable smile, why not have files upon files of you genuinely teeth-and-all smiling with happiness as you greet a family member? Candid photography is also an amazing way to immortalise memories perfectly, so that you can return to them immediately and feel all the same feelings you did then. With documentary-style photography, you get to relive your day not only through your eyes, but also your guest's eyes, seeing all the tiny details you painstakingly put together come to fruition and be so, so worthwhile. (For example, the philosopher in me looooves the meta-photo below from a wedding where the photographer has taken a photo of a guest taking a photo of the cake cutting. Duh-ruh-eamy.) Chloé says their aim is to 'shoot as quietly and inconspicuously as possible, attempting, as storytellers, to blend into the background in order to capture the day as naturally and honestly as we can.'
It doesn't have to be at the expense of posed shots, though - a photographer with a penchant for narrative, storytelling photography will be a master of finely blending the both. A bit of time spent taking photos as a newlywed couple in between the ceremony and the reception is a great idea anyway, as it gives you a breather from all your family and friends and gives you some time to process what you've just done. Taking these shots at a relaxed, natural pace though, rather than with a million awkward, stunted, and pre-conceived poses involving ungainly leg positions and superhero-esque gazing into the distance, will keep that nugget of youtime happy, rather than a little bit stressed out.
James and Hayley's clifftop garden wedding at Robin Hood's Bay, shot by Fox & Owl, is a perfect example of that. Again, I hand it over to my main gal Chloé:
'Of course, beautifully dressed up venues and breathtaking backdrops are always amazing, but they don’t mean a thing without the couple, the wedding party and all the moments they create. It makes our job so much easier when everybody at the event simply relaxes into the day and allows theirselves to enjoy it. We love moments, that's what we’re there for—so don’t hold back your laughter (or your tears). James and Hayley’s wedding was a joy to shoot because their family and friends all merrily threw theirselves into the day in support and celebration of the happy couple, providing us with a crowd of happy faces to shoot. There was a lovely, relaxed flow to the day which felt structured but not forced and this made ’telling the story’ of the day a breeze. Having activities or mini events during the day can provide even more opportunities for photographic moments.'
I, for one, have seen one too many wedding albums where the couples are looking forcefully into each others' eyes, the bride is wistfully panning away from the camera as she gets her makeup done, or the groomsmen look like they'd rather be anywhere but outside that bloody church in their suits. It's time to change that, methinks. Viva la resistance - la candid resistance!