Candid Wedding Photography

Candid Wedding Photography

A photographer’s experiment.

When I meet with brides and grooms to discuss their plans for the big day, almost every person begins with a phrase like “we just want candid wedding photography”. Since I hear these words on a weekly basis, I couldn’t ignore the trend.

Upon reflection, I decided to run an investigation (or an experiment, if you like) to get to the bottom of this desire for “candid wedding photos”. 

***Full disclosure, I didn’t progress past Grade 10 general science in school, so I am by no means an expert in how to run a formal experiment. This was, however, an extremely fun exercise and I believe there is plenty of information for all folks to take away from this.

honest wedding photos

Step 1: Question

My question is simple. Why do brides and grooms across Australia (and the world) want candid wedding photos? What is it about candour that resonates with people to the point that they will pay thousands of dollars to have it?

Step 2: Research

When I Googled the word “candid”, there were two definitions. The one that resonates with most people is this:

Candid. adjective. (of a photograph of a person) taken informally, especially without the subject’s knowledge.
“it is better to let the photographer mingle among the guests and take candid shots”

Google’s definition literally refers to photography to illustrate the meaning of the word. Surely that is the perfect “style” for all photographers to aim for? However, there is a second definition, and it takes a slightly different angle.

The other definition (according to Google) is this:

Candid. adjective. truthful and straightforward; frank. Not afraid to call a spade a spade.
“[their] responses were remarkably candid”

Which brings me to Step 3…

Step 3: Hypothesis

In any good science experiment, you need to set out your hypothesis in order to know what you’re experimenting against. My prediction is that engaged couples are not merely searching for photos that are taken “without the subject’s knowledge”, but rather, that their wedding photos are “truthful and straightforward”. With that said, I present to you my own hypothesis for this experiment:

Brides and grooms desire wedding photos that are honest because they want to recognise themselves (and their loved ones) in the photos.

candid wedding groom

Step 4: Experiment

There’s only one way to test this hypothesis: take some wedding photos. Luckily, I get to do this every weekend. So for the past few months, my clients have unknowingly been guinea pigs in a Grade 10-level science experiment. Here are a few photos that I think exemplify the “honesty” from my hypothesis.

candid wedding photography

Step 5: Observations

This stage of the experiment was probably the most enlightening for me as a wedding photographer. I began to go through the texts, emails and reviews I have received from all of my clients when they receive their photos to tell me their thoughts. I have extracted a few quotes below.

You can feel how happy the day was from the images” – Simon

“Hank helped us create a real moment of intimacy.” – Emma

“Hank knows what he’s doing and just has this way of bringing out the best in people and you can really see that through his photos.” – Rich

“[Hank] captured the essence of who we are as a couple” – Monica

henry paul photography

Step 6: Conclusion

It is clear to me, from the way that people speak about their wedding photos, that they are not concerned about “looking pretty” or “perfect technique”. Rather, brides and grooms are yearning for photos that represent the essence of the people in the photo.

So why do couples want candid wedding photography? Because honest photos allow people to recognise themselves (and their loved ones). Five, ten, fifty and 100 years from now these photos will have a profound ability to portray people’s personality, character and emotion.

candid gay wedding photo

Candid Wedding Photography – A photographer’s experiment.

Written by Henry Paul, Australian Wedding Photographer.


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Henry Paul Photography acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. I pay my respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, and to Elders both past and present. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this website may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.


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