Smile, you’re on candid camera

by | Nov 10, 2018

“If you see something that moves you, and then snap it, you keep a moment”, Linda McCartney once said.

Choosing a wedding photographer can be a bit of a minefield for snapping that perfect moment – even more stressful than choosing a venue, wedding dress or the perfect parfait to finish off your wedding gala dinner. Keeping in mind that this is all you will have left when you celebrate your 50th wedding anniversary, it certainly is a decision that matters.

Let’s have a look at photographic styles, and what will suit your personality and event format best:

Edmonson Photography creates distinctions between Traditional Wedding Photography and Wedding Photojournalism:

Edmonson makes a clear distinction between the two photographic styles, but we feel that he should have also made a personality match with the styles. While we all would love unplanned natural shots, there is a real danger that it may not all go as planned and essential shots are missed. The golden answer to this is to have a combination of the two styles, according to…..

Style the group shots and make a list of essential photos to be taken, and have a 2nd roaming photographer for the natural photo-journalistic shots. This way the best of both worlds are covered.

Part of the process of choosing your wedding photographer is to make sure he or she is up to date with wedding trends. How embarrassing if your photographer suggests photos of you peaking around a tree trunk when the rest of the world has aerial drone footage of their wedding on the beach.


Photographer Calin Ardeleana was born in Romania and moved to Canada in 2000. He shares the following wedding photography trends on his website:

Wedding trends for 2018/19:

  1. Pre-wedding photo shoots
  2. Destination elopements
  3. Unplugged wedding ceremonies
  4. Drone wedding photography and videography
  5. Same day edits
  6. Teasers
  7. Smoke bombs
  8. Photojournalistic coverage
  9. Dramatic locations and imagery
  10. Selfie stick/ social media
  11. Today’s bride does not care about wedding albums

Amanda Cunningham, Managing Director of The Wedding Expo which has been bringing wedding solutions to couples for seventeen years, has a good feel for wedding trends, mainly because of the type of wedding exhibitors who showcase their goods at The Wedding Expos countrywide.

“Many of the Canadian trends are evident in South Africa, like pre-wedding photo shoots, destination elopements, unplugged wedding ceremonies and dramatic locations – of which our country is really blessed with.

Items such as Smoke Bombs and Same Day Edits have not reach the popularity it has in Canada. It will be interesting to see how quickly it takes on. We used a Smoke Bomb in our wedding photo shoot for our March 2018 issue of Wedding Inspirations Magazine with fantastic results.”

Of the wedding trends, we will unpack a number of them for their sheer beauty or controversy: 

1 – Unplugged wedding ceremonies:

How frustrating to get your wedding pics back and every single person on the photo is busy photographing you walking down the aisle.

Image courtesy of Jessica Shepard

Many couples opt for “Unplugged ceremonies” – easily achieved by asking the officiant to make an announcement that photographs are not allowed during the ceremony. Photographers want to capture the moment – and that includes the reaction and emotions of your guests. When they are glued to their cell phones, it does not make for an endearing moments, or photographic memories.

If this concept grabs you, read more about the social etiquette of requesting guests to bag their cell phones – the gentle do’s and don’ts are explained on the Grand Banquet Hall website, based in Los Angeles.

2 – Smoke bombs

Image courtesy of Denise Karise

Looking for dramatic photo effects for your wedding pics? Then you will love the new Smoke Bomb trend. Alive with bursting colours or adding a mystical look to an otherwise blank canvas, it must be the top seasonal trend.

To implement the Smoke Bomb effect to maximum output, the venue or area being used must be chosen with care. It is recommended to rather do these shoots outdoors – image a corn field, a forest path, an old barnyard…

Words of caution include the wind direction on the day, your venue’s rules and regulations and general safety measures. Smoke bombs can also stain clothing, so take care. If your photographer has not worked with Smoke Bombs before it may be necessary to do a trial run before your wedding – you only have that much time to take the perfect shot before the smoke dissipates.

3Drone wedding photography and videography

Image courtesy of NoivasDorioDeJaneiro

Certain weddings really lend itself to drone footage. Outdoor weddings for instance on the beach make stunning drone footage. (Imagine catching dolphins surfing the waves while you are saying your vows!). Even more exciting is the creative possibilities of aerial photography – guest can gather to spell out words, form heart shapes or create fun moments.

“Drones offer unique and grand perspectives of the beautiful locations where people choose to wed,” Josh Rogers of Atmosphere Aerial  reports in Maggie Seaver’s article published on The Knot website.

“Drone shots can capture dynamic, illustrative videos and images that display the scope and scenic context of your event. Are you tying the knot on a mountainside, vast valley or other stunning location? Imagine looking through your wedding album on your 20th anniversary and having a sweeping aerial snapshot of your venue. So cool! It’s an amazing way to take full advantage of the gorgeous space you chose.”

Although this could be a costly addition to you traditional photography it is a novel way of bringing a new perspective to your wedding day. Buyer beware of photographers who also offer to do drone photography – certain licences are needed for professional use. Read more about this:

Parker Gyokeres, owner of Propellerheads Aerial Photography and award-winning US Air Force photojournalist,  points out on TheKnot website that safety and professionalism is paramount when doing drone photography of any kind:  “If the drone pilot doesn’t have an established safety plan, insurance, extensive knowledge of how to operate the vehicle or close coordination with the venue managers, wedding photographers and the couple, he can be a risk to the wedding party.”

Make sure your ground photographer meets with the drone flyer and go through the events of the day to ensure the angles that you wish to cover are covered.

4 – To wedding album or not

The jury is still out on this trend. America and Canadian trends point towards brides opting for images on USB or the Cloud. From there they will chose a few to print and the rest may live on as screensavers or an electronic photo frame. A quick local Google search shows that there are still kazilions of wedding album suppliers in South Africa, although the Photobook trend have gained momentum and popularity.

Photobooks have the advantage of professional looking magazine-like layouts. Wording can be added as you wish. An online editor, available themes and layouts makes it really easy to do. Even for non-designer types.

Photographer Calin (mentioned previously), did some research on wedding album popularity worldwide, and came to light with these interesting statistics (Note SA’s ranking)


Tips for amateur photographers

If you and the bride have nerves of steel, wedding photography can be done by a not-so-professional. We do however not recommend it. But if you go this route for whatever reason, we have some tips to share:

1 – Create a ‘Shot List’

Ask the bride to make a list of essential pics she needs – this may include elderly family members and group pics. Get a family member to co-ordinate the group and family pics. It’s quite something to get everyone together at one given time!

2 – Location Recce

Visit the wedding venue and surrounds before the wedding – make sure you know where interesting shots are, rough textures, staircases, balconies, pools and areas of natural beauty. Check the light at the same time of day the wedding will take place.

3 – Be ready

Make sure you have back up power banks, batteries or whatever it takes to keep the photographic show on the road. Turn off your camera sounds – it’s so annoying to hear photo beeps while in the ceremony or watching the wedding video later on. Borrow a second camera so you don’t have to fiddle too much with settings to catch that perfect moment. A wide angle lens and longer lens will do the trick.

4 – Watch out for the detail

Wedding magazines provide good guidelines in terms of detail photography – capture the buttons on the dress, the sparkling stones in her sandals, the bubbles in the champagne glass, the wind catching the veil – have a keen eye for detail and snap it. You have a split second.

5 – Backgrounds: Photographing skin of colour

Take care not to photograph someone with black hair against a black background or a darker skin against a dark background – your subject disappears and all that shows up is white – teeth, eyes. Not a good look for anyone.

Elena Wilkins from the Digital School of Photography explains her family’s dilemma: “There are three of us, and we come in a wide range of skin tones—from my fairly light skin, to my husband’s, pretty dark and handsome; our child fits right in between. We are a true coloured family—a perfect fusion of all tones—a photographer’s conundrum, or, maybe even, a nightmare!”

In her blog she shares 5 tips:

1. It’s all about clothing

If at all possible, I ask my dark skin complexion clients not to wear white clothing. It makes life easier. In cases of wedding, as you can imagine, this is not an option.

2. Away from Bright Lights

I love to shoot either early in the morning or in the evening, when the sun goes down, lavishing its golden rays to create perfect magic. In cases, especially with weddings, if that is not an option, and I have to shoot in the afternoon sun, I look for evenly shaded areas, so there is no competition between the natural light and my subjects’ skin. If all else fails, I do use fill flash.

3. Expose for the Skin

When shooting a darker skin complexion person, expose for the face. Get the face right, and the rest of the image will fall into place.

4. Balancing Whites and Darker Skin Tones

If your clients are wearing light clothing, especially true with weddings, make sure not to blow out highlights, so you can adjust it in post processing. This is why I shoot RAW, without exception, when it comes to weddings. I want to make sure I still can tone down my whites in post processing.

5. Go for the Mid-Range: Photographing Mixed Skin Tones in the Same Image

If you are photographing people of different skin tones in the same image, go for the mid-range; the rest can be adjusted in post-processing. I always make sure that the lightest person is not too light, while the darkest person is not too dark.

Flamboyant fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld once said about photographs: “What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”


Ain’t that the truth about weddings, we ask?




She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.


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