Why Candid Wedding Photos Matter More than Portraits

October 31, 2022

From a really young age, we are exposed to the “expected” wedding photographs. We see couples beaming into the camera, happy and in love, and from their fancy clothes, we can tell this is their wedding day.

And since humans are wired to want connection and happiness, our brains tell us that this is a nice photo. You might even have a great portrait of your parents or grandparents from their wedding that you love that looks like this. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Historically, formal portraits were meant to show a couple’s wealth and social status. They were taken to document important people in an era where a single physical photograph was expensive, and your camera didn’t live on the phone in your pocket.

But times have done changed.

And so has wedding photography.

What has changed the most is we now know photos make us FEEL emotions, and weddings are a day where we feel ALL OF THE THINGS.

And that’s why candid wedding photos matter more than portraits.

Here I Go, Challenging Wedding Photography Norms

Before you start to think that I don’t photograph portraits and the other things that are expected at a wedding, let me assure you: OF COURSE I do. I would never refuse your Aunt who asks me to take a photo of her and her sisters, all dressed up and beaming with happiness that they are together on your wedding day.

But what I hope is that after I take the expected photo, I stick around get also get a shot of them throwing their heads back and laughing, or later, tearing up the dance floor. And I hope that when you see that photo, you will instantly hear their laughter in your head. I hope you look at it and feel what they felt like when they hugged you. And I hope that’s the photo you choose for YOUR wedding album.

Your Aunt can go ahead and put the posed 4×6 on the refrigerator for all her friends to see… everyone is happy! But you, you will be drawn to savour the candid wedding photo. Because CANDID is about FEELING.

Feel the Wedding Day Feels Again and Again

I believe this with every fibre of my being: your wedding day will have an energy that will never be repeated in your lifetime. That’s not to say I believe your wedding is the most important day of your life; I hope you have many other unrepeatable days!

But a wedding has a life all its own. It’s a gathering of all the folks you love, and have played a role in your life and in who you are. A gathering so unique it will NEVER happen again. And even though this sounds a bit like a canned phrase you might hear, my “why” is to capture how that feels. Nothing lights me up like hearing from a couple that their photos bring them back to the day with such crisp clarity that they are transported back to that day. 

And THIS is why candid wedding photos matter more than portraits: THE FEELING.

This Candid Wedding Photo, Not That Still Portrait

People usually hire me because I excel at candid wedding photography. Yes, I shoot portraits, but all of us wedding photographers do… what sets me apart is how I tell a genuine story with candid wedding photography. Featured here are actual spreads from Taylor and Rob’s Oak Estate Winery wedding album to demonstrate what I’m talking about.

Once I deliver the wedding photography and you’re swimming in good feels from all those candid, heartfelt images, we start working on your wedding album.

And it’s always a bit of a surprise…

When I’m talking with couples to put together a wedding album, I often hear couples grappling with the SHOULDs of their day. And it’s usually the phrase, “Well, we should put this one in our album.”

It’s always a posed photo–the expected photo of the people looking at the camera. So I like to dig into the WHY of why that photo needs to be in your album.

And we realize it doesn’t.

What does? How you felt when you finally put on your dress. Enjoying celebratory shots with your bridesmaids. Hugging your childhood best friend.

Your wedding album is the CULMINATION of EVERYTHING. It’s the selection of photos you will look at over and over. You can hold this story in your lap, touch the images with your hands. These photos hold the most meaning and symbolize all the energy and time and thought and love that went into your wedding day.

(Meanwhile, hundreds of digital files die quiet deaths on your computer–computers crash, hard drives fail, cloud storage passwords are forgotten, or any number of technical glitches that make your photos inaccessible in a few years.)

You like the portrait, I get it. Why wouldn’t you, it’s people you love! Yet when we dig in, we find our choices are often based on that conditioning we have to always look at a camera.

Others choose it to please the parents, or because that’s what they’re used to seeing… there’s a huge number of forces in our brains telling us that a looking-at-the-camera portrait needs to be in the album.

But take a second… if it doesn’t make you FEEL what you felt in the moment, it’s better as a print elsewhere. Your album is your one-of-a-kind love story from a never-to-be-recreated day. Fill your album with moments of genuine connection, honesty, and personality–the moments that define your relationships, and the reason why you had a wedding.

Other options? Get a parent album for the parents and let them fill it with the photos that light them up. Get a wall print of that nice-but-expected portrait for your grandma. There are many ways to have that photo in your life beyond your album.

Your album is a chapter in your real life story. Choose photos that make you feel the love.

How to Choose the Right Candid Wedding Photographer

There are dozens of wedding photographers in the Kootenays, hundreds of wedding photographers in Kelowna, and thousands of wedding photographers in British Columbia. Finding the right photographer to truly document your wedding day and vibe with your people takes more intention than hiring who your friend or sister did because they loved their photos.

Take your time. Study their socials, their website and be honest.

Can you feel what the people are feeling?

Do you wish that you had been at that wedding?

Can you feel the love, the emotion, the connection?

Do you find yourself gasping at the big moments and smiling at the small?

I could go on and on about how your connection with your photographer matters, but I’m lucky enough to have clients who have done it for me. These kind words from Taylor made me ugly cry with happiness because this is why I do what I do:

“We honestly cannot say enough good things. There aren’t enough words, truly.

Our hunt for a wedding photographer was REAL. We looked at 40+ photographers in the province of BC. While others had certain things we were looking for, no one seemed to have the whole package. We weren’t big on the ‘status quo’ wedding photos. While we absolutely wanted photos of the entirety of our day, we didn’t care as much about the stock standard rings, dress hanging, people standing around smiling, etc.  We wanted the ‘dream’ photographer. One who could capture the raw emotion and vibe of the day, one who would capture those swoon worthy images, one who would capture all the ‘status quo’ things but in a way where they were part of it.

When we arrived at Bobbi’s site, the emotion we could feel in her photos was palpable. We knew we had to meet her. When we did get the chance to meet, her authenticity, honesty, and personality sealed the deal for us.

Genuine Connections & Meaningful Interactions

If you look at my photos and they make you feel, that’s a really good place to start! If we meet, and you think I’m cool, and I think you’re cool, then we are really on our way to creating some amazing photos together. You can CLICK HERE to pick up my guide on the Best Questions you MUST ASK your wedding photographer. These questions will help you understand why candid wedding photos matter more than portraits.

On your day, you can let your emotions fly and feel all that magic, and know I’ll be right there to capture it for you. Click here to email me and let’s talk about all the goodness you’re going to want to remember forever.

Wedding planner: Dreamy Events Wedding florals: White Haven Weddings Wedding dress: PRIVEE by Berta HMUA: Shea Ellison and Megan Rae