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Taylor Nicole Photography is a fine art wedding photography team based out of Denver, Colorado. We specialize in providing bright, classic and refined wedding imagery for our couples. 

We capture a mix of posed and candid imagery that couples will cherish for all the years to come.

Owner & Photographer


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The Truth About Candid Photos

April 30, 2024



Are you ready for this? I am about to say something that you might not want to hear. Your engagement portraits are not going to be candid… What does it mean to have a candid photo? Doesn’t everyone want candid photos? If your engagement photos aren’t candid then your wedding photos might not be candid either right? If you listen to this episode I might be able to convince you that yes while we all love candid images, it actually takes something extra to make space for candid moments even during a wedding day. And that you might also equally love natural feeling images too, especially when it comes to being in front of the camera.

Wedding reception at Avanti Food & Beverage Restaurant in Boulder, Colorado

Listen to the episode

Listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts

Inside the episode

I have to admit this whole episode started on the idea of how we define the word candid. So we have to start by defining candid- it means to be truthful and straightforward. A common perception of candid images is usually that it is taken of a moment without the subject’s knowledge so no one is specifically posed for the photo because posing would make a moment fake and not truthful to that moment.

  1. So, what would a truly candid engagement session look like?
    • Picture this. We meet up at a location and time you’ve chosen, you’re wearing outfits that you’ve planned. In a normal engagement session we would walk to the locations together and you would stand smile, talk, walk, laugh and take direction while we take portraits. None of that is truly candid, you’re aware of the moments and are posing and creating those memories. 
    • So a truly candid engagement session would look something like you telling me, ‘Hey we are going to be at Wash Park today from 1-5pm, you should find us and photograph the moments we have together but stay far away so the photos are candid. We don’t want to see you or be directed at all.’
    • Obviously I just described something similar to the paparazzi. It’s actually a fun concept but not practical.  Especially because an engagement session’s true purpose is to get you and your partner comfortable being directed and posed in front of the photographer’s camera anyways. So know that after your engagement session, or after you get your engagement images back that these aren’t truly candid images and that doesn’t reflect your photographer’s ability or desire to get the candids.
  2. To be honest, when it comes to portraits most people want direction, they want to be posed because standing in front of a camera highlights how much we don’t know what to do! So when it comes to portraits you probably want the natural look vs overly posed.
    • I describe this at the beginning of a session or formal portraits by saying ‘you’re about to make a lot of eye contact’ its silly but it’s true. You don’t want an entire engagement session of you and your partner looking at the camera, so what does that mean? You look at each other! 
    • Like the classic walking photos I tell clients to look at each other and then look down to the ground whenever they need to because how would you actually walk through a field? You wouldn’t be walking and staring straight ahead you’re interacting and watching your step. 
    • So eye contact is key for natural feeling portraits. 
    • Even during family formals if I have time I sneak in the Bride and her mom looking at each other and giving a quick hug. It’s a direction, that wasn’t a natural hug but it gives a great memory and created a moment anyways.
    • So to wrap up our first point, when it comes to formal portraits you’re probably more interested in natural feeling photos with light posing or direction instead of true candids, because your formal portraits aren’t truly candid.
  3. So when do candid moments actually happen? What you might not know is that having candid wedding photos means planning in space to actually be candid.
    • Candid moments aren’t plentiful when we have your timeline planned down to the minute or when during the cocktail hour we have 4 extended family groupings, then the immediate family then your 22 person wedding party and all of your couple’s formals to take and then when you enter the reception you plan formal group photos with each table grouping too. That isn’t to say that there won’t be interactions during that time but what’s really happening is your photographer is going to be focused more so on all of the formal portraits that you’ve planned out and truthfully in that time you’re just going mechanically from group photo to group photo so you aren’t being overly candid in that period either.
    • The best candid moments come from wedding days where you are actually present and enjoying your party and your guests.
    • What can you do to guarantee more candid moments? A few ideas for that
      • A first look and taking formal portraits before the ceremony, that way by the time your guests are actually there you get to be with them and have that downtime for candids to be captured
      • Hire a wedding planner or coordinator, nothing kills you actually enjoying your wedding party like people coming up to ask you questions every few minutes. It’s hard to be candid or present when you’re self directing everyone during your wedding day.
      • Don’t over do it on the formal portraits. Especially if you’re taking portraits mostly after your ceremony. Plan for the most important group photos and keep it to a minimum so that you can actually enjoy time with people over taking group photos with them all.
      • Also a disclaimer, as a photographer I don’t mind one bit how many formal group photos you plan. I absolutely cherish the formal family portraits from my own wedding.  This is coming from the idea of the couple worried about getting enough candid memories from their wedding day. Candid moments will happen either way and hopefully will be captured, but if the candid photos are truly a priority to you then creating space to actually be candid and be present is the best way to get that for you! 

So to restate the ideas surrounding the candid photos…

  1. Your engagement portraits are not candid. The purpose of an engagement session is to build trust and confidence being in front of the camera with your partner. They can be focused on natural feeling images but the concept of formal portraits is not truly candid.
  2. When it comes to the formal portraits eye contact and interaction creates the most natural feeling images
  3. To prioritize candid photos during your wedding day means to intentionally create space during your day to be candid, to be present and interact. Not running from one formal group photo to the next.
    • This could look like having a first look to get the formal portraits out of the way before the ceremony, hiring a wedding planner or coordinator, and keeping the formal portraits to a minimum.

As a last disclaimer, this whole episode and idea about candid photos is based on my experience while photographing so many weddings. I am not saying that there are not candid moments if you have too many family formals planned. There are plenty of interactions that we capture between you and your loved ones even on the most hectic and tight timelines. This episode came to my mind after listening to what my clients say that they value in their wedding photography and I wanted to outline ideas on how to make this happen.

I hope this was helpful and thanks for listening! 

xo, Taylor Nicole

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