As all wedding photography stories go…a prospect contacts a studio. An hour of slideshows, quote discussions, and a few out-of-place jokes later, the lady with concern in her voice poses the intriguing question, “You shoot candid, right?” Intriguing because, in our opinion, there is no intelligent way to answer that question.
Much has been written about how to address this specific need—which people also call photojournalism at weddings—but not much has been spoken about the difference between “candid” and the other form of photography (conveniently termed as “traditional”).
Perhaps, the concept of candid wedding photography in India stems from the age-old practice of photographers requesting for a “repeat” of rituals—so the couple can look straight into the camera with beaming smiles and announce, in first-person terms no less, that they’ve just completed an important ritual. Interspersed between these pictures in a “traditional” photographer’s album are tastefully shot photojournalistic images that have, for as long as photography has existed, been overlooked.
So, the important question is: does every wedding photographer shoot “candid” (or photojournalistic, to make it sound sweeter) or is it just the “candid photographer” who pulls out the magical rabbit out of the bag? Dive deeper and the truth is clear: wedding photography has evolved, no definitive distinction actually exists (between traditional and candid). And yes, to keep with the times, your pictures need to look good (whether by using better equipment or improved techniques).
Now, let’s debunk some popular myths about the new “candid” form of wedding photography.
#1. Candid portraits
The objective is always to make a tasteful, beautiful portrait. As a photographer, if you believe your subject needs no posing and even frowns look beautiful, shoot “candid” by all means. But, we believe, that’s just when you’re shooting the perfect wedding on a perfect day.
Most often, you won’t be; so make it a point to pose your subject to find the best angle, the best way to light, and the best way to make a gorgeous portrait. That’s what your customer wants.
#2. Capturing emotions
Flip through the pages of your parents’ wedding album and you’ll be in for a shock. Photographers captured unadulterated, uninfluenced emotion even back then. What has changed perhaps is, a lot of your guests and relatives are going to carry cameras as well, and they can shoot the same emotion. But, the planning and homework photographers do before a wedding is what will set them apart.
They don’t just bring “shooting” skills, but a clear vision, anticipation of unexpected changes and the ability to adapt, an improved sense of aesthetics, and a whole load of other skills that justify why you like another photographer’s work. You’ve perhaps not had the word “candid” running in your head while flipping through their work.
So, as a photographer, when you’re posed the question the answer is a no-brainer. You can capture their wedding pictures the best way possible and that they’re going to love it.
#3. Stage shots
Now, this is a bone of contention. A near deal-breaker for every wedding photographer who doesn’t believe there is a difference between “traditional” and “candid”, but only between “tasteful” and “boring”.
Most of you know and have communicated emphatically that you do not capture “stage shots”. Point taken. But, most of you will also know that this drives part of your business to another studio—a bunch of experienced photographers who do a pretty good job with stage shots.
To prevent this, you have two options: go out there and shoot everything your customer wants you to, or hire photographers who do that and ensure business stays within your studio. Calling yourself “candid” and turning down the extra money you make from “traditional” is not always a wise thing to do.
#4. Candid photographers need to charge more
Candid photographers are not expensive. Good photographers are. And exceptional photographers, who know their worth, would leave all “market standard” figures behind and charge for what they deliver. If you believe you’re doing an incredible job, and there are few who can make better wedding pictures, how much you charge cannot be defined by existing benchmarks. Whether you shoot “candid” or “traditional”.
There are many “traditional” studios that make twice as much money as the average “candid” wedding photographer.
Also, the argument about investing in better equipment for “candid” pictures is weak, considering almost every studio these days is shooting with almost the same gear as you do. So, focus on the art and business of photography, while leaving distinctions aside.