bride and groom ceremony recession

Your Guide to Natural Wedding Photos

Super Tips for Couples who want Natural Wedding Photos

These days most people would like their wedding photos to look more natural and less staged. Obviously your choice of photographer will play the biggest part in making sure your wedding photos look natural, but there are a few things the couple can do help out on the day itself.

father of the bride giving his speech

Before I get into this blog I’d just like to mention that it’s absolutely fine if, as a couple, you don’t really want the natural style and would like more posed or traditional wedding photographs. 

Have your wedding day your way. Don’t be swayed by traditions, trends or even what your friends and family think you should have…have whatever you want, it’s your day. 

Just make sure you book the photographer who shoots the style you want.

wedding guests chatting

What are Natural Photographs?

This question is quite open to debate but I’d say its photographs that don’t look awkward or heavily staged. 

I think a posed photo can look natural and this is what I aim for when taking my posed couples photos.


bride and groom watching the wedding speeches

However usually when people think of natural photos they refer mostly to the unposed element of the photography. 

There is candid photography – this is simply taking photos of guests when they’re not looking but doesn’t necessarily have a story telling element to it. Often these photos will be taken using a long lens and could just be a headshot of a guest. 

The type of unposed work I do is documentary photography, this is where we try to capture more context in the photos using wide lenses, the pictures connect to one another to form a narrative or story of the wedding day.

mothr of the bride congratulating the bride
bridal party getting ready B&W

Photographer choice

I’m only going to touch on this briefly but I do have an important point to make about choosing your photographer (and videographer for that matter). 

Over the past 10 years there has been quite a shift towards natural and documentary style wedding photography. As such there are photographers out there who are advertising themselves as documentary but in fact don’t shoot this style at all (or don’t actually understand what it is), they simply use the word for marketing. 

I find this quite upsetting because it must be confusing for potential couples to understand what is and what isn’t documentary photography when nearly everyone writes it on their website. I also think its a shame some photographers feel they need to sell themselves as something they’re not. If they love posed work and are great at it then shout about that fact! There will be clients who love it.

bride with father at Polhawn Fort cornwall wedding venue

So, to make sure you book the photographer you want have a real good look on the photographers blog posts, not just portfolio pages, to make sure there are lots of natural shots. Also ask them how they work on the day so they can talk you through it.

Bridesmaid crying at Bude castler cornwall

What can the couple do to help make the photos look more natural?

Be yourself

So you’re belly laughing at a joke or ugly crying at one of the speeches, who cares? Emotion is what makes us humans. These real, raw and authentic photographs are often the ones that will stir your emotions back up in years to come. You’ll feel how you felt when you look at them. So don’t be afraid to show your emotions.

It’s windy and your hair has blown all over your face or you’re pulling a funny face during confetti, who cares? You’re a human not a robot. These are the photos you’ll laugh at in years to come, they’re part of the story. Gone are the days people want weddings to be fairytales, we don’t need to take ourselves too seriously.

wedding speeches

Group photos

It is a good idea to limit how many family group photos you have, obviously if you have loads of formals the photographer will spend his time taking them rather than capturing natural moments. 

More importantly if you spend your time having lots of groups you’re not chatting to your guests creating the moments with them. Spend your time with your loved ones, it’s a wedding not a photoshoot.

St Ives cornwall wedding Bride, Father and son ceremony

Also, go easy on photo requests, you know the sort you see on Pinterest etc. This takes the direction of the photos away from the story of your wedding and they’ll stand out in the set. 

If you want to show an element of fun in your photos its a good idea to get some games or entertainment for people to have real fun rather than pretending to do fun things for a photo.

bridesmaids getting ready

Smile for the camera

Actually no, don’t! It’s been forced upon us since being little kids that we need to stand ridged and smile for the camera as soon as its pointed at us. 

But in fact unless the photographer asks you to look at the camera try not to do so. Obviously you will from time to time so don’t stress too much, but for certain moments, like when you walk down the aisle or during a confetti line, don’t feel you need to walk all the way smiling at the camera. It can make a natural moment look unnatural.

wedding guests casual shot

Should we advise our guests that you’ll be taking natural photos so they know not to pose?

I’d probably say no to this. It might make them feel more self conscious when they see the photographer approaching. 

I’ve developed a way of working that guests seem to get used to my presence very quickly and it’s rare they feel they need to perform these days. The only exception here is if you think some of your key guests, eg parents, may not “get” the natural approach, as wedding photography was very different when they got married. 

If you think this is the case just show them some examples on the photographers website and explain to ignore me until it’s time for the formals.

dancing at the wedding reception

Don’t over-do the planning your wedding

This might sound a bit strange but don’t over plan the day too much. Obviously put as much time into the planning leading up to the wedding but try resist planning a strict timetable for the day of the wedding itself. 

Some things need certain times set in stone such as what tome you need to be ready for the ceremony, what time you’ll go in for food etc. 

But other than those key timings allow yourself plenty of free time to just go with the flow. That way you’ll be more relaxed and have the time to be with your loved ones and get swept away on the moment, in turn I’ll be there to capture those moments.

flower girls with mum

We’re a bit worried we won’t be able to act naturally once we see the camera pointing at us

Honestly don’t worry about this at all. As I’ve mentioned above I’ve developed a way of working where everyone at the wedding gets used to my presence really quickly. More to the point you’ll have so much going on around you there won’t be time to notice me! 

Nearly every wedding I photograph the couple tell me they had no idea I was there when I captures certain moments. And this is due to the combination of my stealthy approach and them being wrapped up in the moment.


If you’re still a little worried then maybe consider some garden games or entertainment to keep everyone occupied and create fun moments.

Father of the groom portrait B&W

I’d like natural photos but my partner prefers the more posed photographs

This is fine. Most photographers, myself included, take a mixture of both posed and natural photographs. 

The balance will just change from one photographer to the next. I spend more time on natural photos and a little less on posed work. Again to make sure the balance is right for you this is something to check upon booking your photographer.

best man adjusting groom's button hole


Make sure you know really what style you’re booking when you book your photographer.

Limit your formal photos so that you’re part of the natural moments and photographs.

Try not to look at the camera doing key natural moments such as the ceremony, walking down the aisle or confetti.

Don’t worry about yourselves or your guests acting naturally, you’ll be far too busy to worry about that!

Have a great day, relax and be yourself – this will shine through in the photographs.

wedding reception shot at The barn at Pengelly Cornwall