Natural Wedding Portraiture

A discussion on my approach to Wedding Portraiture. A selection of my favourite photographs and how I capture the perfect natural portrait.


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By Charlie Allen

What is a Natural Portrait?

A natural wedding portrait is a representation of the person. A way to bring out their personality through the lens. When it comes to Wedding Photography, I prefer to use a natural approach, especially when capturing portraits. Using a natural method of photography can offer some beautiful glimpses into various emotions. In many cases, the person is often not even aware of the camera as many of my portraits are not forced. There are of course differences in my natural approach to wedding portraiture. At times, I may direct the location and lighting. Although, I aim to keep the portrait as candid as I can. As for the image below of Nusrat, I directed a couple of aspects of the portrait. By including the vivid tones of red and avoiding eye contact with the camera, the photograph offers a lovely, natural depiction of the bride.

Allen Photography

What if I'm not comfortable in front of a camera?

First of all, being uncomfortable in front of the camera is a natural occurrence for a lot of people. Being photographed can be somewhat of an unusual prospect. However, the use of a natural approach in photography will make everyone feel at ease and less pressured. The majority of portraits that I capture are not even noticed. I essentially act as another guest at the Wedding. At times, I love to have fun with wedding photography, reducing any stress people may feel in front of a camera. In addition to this, many testimonials include the aspect of ‘stress free’ and ‘made me feel at ease’. The process I encompass stems away from traditional methods of photography. If I decide to capture a portrait, I may be having a conversation whilst I capture your portrait. Above all, methods like this are done simply to make you feel comfortable in the process. Therefore, this allows me to capture an honest, natural photograph.

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So many people dislike themselves so thoroughly that they never see any reproduction of themselves that suits. None of us is born with the right face. It’s a tough job being a portrait photographer.”
–  Imogen Cunningham

Location and Lighting.

Within the initial consultation I have with the couple, we discuss the option for traditional portraits. As a result, I make sure to allocate time for this. Lighting is especially important within wedding photography. It can certainly make or break an image. Also, the use of flash photography is quite common. On the other hand, I will always try to avoid the use of flash. Flash photography can produce harsh lighting, and can take away the natural aspect of candid photography. Often, golden hour or slightly overcast conditions are perfect for portraiture. This is because it can produce soft shadows and gentle highlights upon the person’s face. I love to incorporate aspects of the location to produce a compelling portrait. Of course, the main focus is to capture the person. However, the environment can add to the beauty of a natural portrait. Weddings can last the entire day, meaning I can go from capturing early mornings to late at night. The photograph below was captured in a dark room. Therefore, I altered my camera settings and edited the image to black and white. And so, it brought out the emotion and significance of the portrait.

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The key to portraiture is to have an environment in which, be it lighting, or whatever it is in that environment that you’re photographing. The moment comes to make the magic happen.
Nigel Parry

My Thoughts on Wedding Portraiture.

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Capturing natural portraits at weddings offers an insight into a person’s personality, expression, and thoughts. When looking back on your wedding day, these portraits will be a true reflection of their identity. Most notably, as time goes on the feeling of reminiscing grows stronger. And so, the significance and emotion of these portraits will grow with it. To conclude, I capture photographs knowing that they will be looked back on years into the future. Therefore, It’s important to not only depict natural portraits but timeless ones.