9 tips for capturing candid wedding photos

Embrace spontaneity and capture candid moments

Candid moments are a vital part of modern wedding photography. Whether you’re new to wedding photography or an experienced pro, it’s vital to make sure all the important moments are captured, but also the little things in between. It’s most often the little things that our couples and their families come back and say made them laugh or cry.

In this guide, wedding photographers Lisa and Neil, share their expertise with MILK, offering nine invaluable tips for creating stunning candid wedding photos that truly capture the essence of the day.

1. Be yourself

When you show up at weddings as the most authentic version of yourself, others will relax and be themselves around you also. Remember, the couple will have already made a positive choice about you and your personality so there’s an excellent chance you’ll fit in just fine with their family and friends.

Being yourself, relaxed and friendly will also help those who are suffering nerves at various points of the day. Folks appreciate that and will help you make better photos because of it. Our clients all know the silly songs we sing about our cats, our stupid pet nicknames for each other and what our favorite crisps are. We obviously act professionally (that goes without saying) but we don’t put on any airs and graces and we don’t expect our clients to either.

2. Create relationships and get stuck in

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to act “invisible” to get great candids and we actually think getting stuck in gets you better results. Some of our best photos have come about as a result of a Bridesmaid or Groomsman grabbing us because something silly is going on. This is because throughout the day we take the time to get to know all the key players so they know we’re on the same team. When people trust and like you they are happy to drop barriers and include you in the fun.

As a photographer, it is so incredibly easy to get caught up in stress, rush around all day, but act like a recluse. You’re identifying yourself as a ‘hired hand’ in doing so, NOT part of the atmosphere. Take five minutes, sit down with someone and strike up a random conversation. Not only is it brilliant for your soul but it will result in better photos. If you can’t relax, how is anyone else supposed to?

3. Always be prepared

We’ve seen a common occurrence among wedding photographers. Often, they focus solely on capturing the key moments like the couple's first kiss at the end of the aisle, then relax once those moments are captured. However, some of the most memorable and heartfelt moments occur in between these key events. It's crucial to remain prepared and attentive throughout the entire celebration to capture these spontaneous moments. Your ‘radar’ for these things will improve over time as you become familiar with the dynamics and rhythms of weddings and large groups of people.

Being ‘lucky’ in getting great shots is far more likely the more practice you’ve had. Easy example; the celebrant says ‘does anyone have any objection to this marriage?’ you’d better be ready for some reaction shots. Speeches are another significant part of the day where such moments unfold. While it may seem like the job is done after the last speech, this is actually when emotions run high as guests debrief, share hugs, and often shed tears. Here is an example of guests rejoining post speeches.

4. Be brave

We remember when we first started we were so conscious of our presence and its impact on people. If someone’s crying or having a moment then naturally it can feel invasive to be near with a camera. That’s natural because you’re a good person, right? Just remind yourself that the couple have paid you to capture these moments. We promise you they won’t mind. Be brave, get the photo and remember to present a warm reassuring smile at all times.

5. Look for the little things

It’s obvious you should note folks' facial expressions and huge emotive moments but also look out for the little things. Is the Groom twirling his wedding ring round his finger? Did he tuck his new Bride’s hair behind her ear? Even little things like the Bride smelling her bouquet. When she sees this photo it will transport her back to that particular smell. It’s said that more than half of all human communication is non-verbal, a photo can evidence this.

6. Context is key

When taking candid photos it’s important that your framing allows for context. You’re telling a story and you need to make sure enough elements are there to do this. It’s better to explain this point using an example. The photo below was taken during speeches. The flower girls had taken their dresses off and decided to run around outside. One of us could have gone outside and got a photo of them muddy on the grass. The composition we chose instead, however, adds context which elevates the photo. It’s a photo that’ll be talked about for years to come and become a family legend.

7. Keep your gear simple

Things happen so quickly at weddings. Having to choose between different lenses or different camera bodies just takes up mental capacity you can’t afford to spare. That’s most true in the early days of your wedding career.

We carry one camera body with us (though we have spares in our bags in case of emergencies) and primarily shoot with 35mm lenses. Not only does this help due to less decision making processes but it also helps give our photography a consistent look. 35mm feels like using your own eyes to view a scene, it’s a classic! Simple good quality kit and solid muscle memory always wins out.

8. Listen

Sometimes it can be difficult to know what room you should be in and where to direct your feet. Whilst photography is obviously visual, the sounds around the room can give you some clues. Listen out for people laughing, glasses tinkling and then go wherever the sound takes you. If you hear an “awww” you know there’s definitely something cute going on and it will likely be worthy of a photo.

9. Observe

This one goes without saying, you need to observe what’s going on around you. As well as watching what is going on in the room, you should also be paying attention to who isn’t there.. If the Groomsmen or Bridesmaids have vanished for example, they’re probably up to no good (see also, something fun!) and you should go and see where they are. Always keep a tab on where the couple are so you can capture photos of them having moments alone together. Your aim is inclusive not intrusive of course.


Candid wedding photography has the power to transport people back to the joyous moments of a couple's special day. By following these nine top tips from professional wedding photographers Lisa and Neil, you too can master the art of capturing personality in amazing candid photos, creating timeless mementos for your clients.

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