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Top 10 Candid Wedding Photography Tips & Techniques

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/8/2010

While formal wedding shots show off the pomp and circumstance of the event, it's the candid wedding shots that really tell the story. But, there's actually more to candid shots than pointing and shooting. Here are the top 10 candid wedding photography tips and techniques.

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    Learning Candid Wedding Photography Tips

    While candid shots may just look like random pictures, there’s actually quite a bit of technique required to capture shots that show off the subject’s personality, interactions with others or even their emotions at that moment in time. And, for weddings, candid shots fill in the rest of the story that staged photographs missed. So, to help you take better candid shots, here are the top 10 tips for candid wedding photography.

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    1. Camera

    Number one, always have your camera. Candid shots are just that – candid, which means that you don’t have time to dig out your camera or even run and go get it. You have to have it on you. And, always use a camera with some type of optical stabilization. You also don’t have time to set up a tripod. If you must, use a monopod if you’re worried about blurry shots.

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    2. Flash

    Next, skip the flash, and pump up the ISO. If you use the flash, everyone will know that you are taking pictures, which could create some stilted by ben pollard shots. Worse, the flash could wash out the pictures, creating unnatural looks. Check to see if your camera has some type of natural light mode as this will use the ambient light in the room. You could also try experimenting with opening up the aperture or even investing in a quicker lens.

    For more on lighting, check out Wedding Photography Lighting Tips & Tricks.

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    3. Zoom Lens

    Speaking of lenses, get a zoom lens. You may not be upon the action the whole time. But, if you do see something fun going down, you can simply zoom into the subject. Plus, you don’t want to actually intrude on the party. This will allow you to remain a professional distance away from your subject.

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    4. Scout Your Location

    by Byron and Tamara Always scout out your location ahead of time. While you do want to get the bride and groom saying their vows, you also want to get the parents tearing up in the front row. Think about the action, and be in the middle of it, even if it involves getting on the dance floor for a song or two.

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    5. Catch People in the Act

    And, while we’re mentioning dancing, get people in act of doing something interesting. Just because old Aunt Meg is sitting on the stool doesn’t make it interesting. But, if you catch Aunt Meg in the midst of snoring with her head back while clutching a champagne flute, now that’s a classic!

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    6. Be a Gunslinger

    Try shooting your shots from lower down. This way, people won’t know that you’re photographing them. For example, try taking pictures from hip height or even while kneeling down. Not only will you fool your subject, you could also get some pretty interesting shots by changing the perspective.

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    7. Frame Out Your Shots

    One further perspective trick is framing out your shots. Just because they’re candid doesn’t mean that all framing has to be thrown out the window. Capture the bride in the background with a bouquet of flowers in the front. Play around with objects or even other people as foregrounds.

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    8. Do the Group Thing

    Another thing to consider when learning candid wedding photography is taking group pictures. Get people talking, hugging and laughing together. These pictures are more interesting than people just by themselves.

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    9. Catch Them When They're REALLY Least Expecting It

    Take candid shots while others are setting up staged shots. Capture the chatter while the other photographer is setting up the camera. Or, capture the bride playing with her train to get it just right. The attention will be away from you, allowing you to capture pretty interesting candid shots.

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    10. Shoot to Kill...Your Memory Card

    And finally, the best thing you can do when trying to master candid wedding photography is to take lots of pictures. The continuous shooting mode is a savior here. Just have plenty of memory cards handy in case you fill them up too fast. It takes a lot of pictures just to get the right one.