Candid wedding photography with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS R: secrets of the ninja wedding photographer

A couple laughing in delight as confetti falls around them. They are in sharp focus, everything else is blurred. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
A bride and groom laugh in delight in a completely unguarded moment captured by wedding photographer Markus Morawetz. Taken on a Canon EOS 6D Mark II with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens at 1/320 sec, f/1.4 and ISO2000. © Markus Morawetz

Markus Morawetz takes every wedding photography job personally. A master of candidly capturing intimate moments, he allows himself to get caught up in the emotion of each wedding, building a deep connection with his subjects. He calls his signature brand of wedding photography "soulful storytelling", aiming to encapsulate raw emotion in each image so that people viewing his photographs in years to come will understand how it felt to be there on the day.

Austrian photographer Markus is a member of the worldwide Fearless Photographers collective, and a Canon Ambassador. His work stands out for its authenticity and for his use of creamy bokeh around the subject to pick out what really matters. He describes photographing weddings as "reportage of true moments that play back like a beautiful movie" and likens the experience to adventure photography, embracing unpredictability but being prepared to capture every exciting moment.

What's more, Markus documents each wedding while making himself as invisible as possible. "I don't want to distract anyone, so I try to be as stealthy as a ninja," he says. Here he explains what weddings mean to him, how he approaches each job, and why choosing the right kit is extremely important for getting candid wedding photographs.

A couple kissing under an umbrella, illuminated by light reflected from the inside of the umbrella. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
The unusual lighting and selective focus make this couple seem like they're in a world of their own. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens at 1/160 sec, f/1.6 and ISO2000. © Markus Morawetz

1. Make sure you're the right fit

"I always meet a couple before shooting their wedding. I have to get to know them for real, rather than just by email or over the phone. I don't work with everyone – I turn down couples who have a very clear idea about how they want their wedding shot, if it's not my style. If they show me Pinterest boards and give me a predetermined shot list, I'll tell them I'm not right for them and recommend someone else. People are often surprised by this because they assume it's just another job for me, but I need to feel a good connection with everyone I work with. They have to trust me to do a good job in my own way."

2. Look for the moments that can't be relived

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"Doing justice to a wedding day means capturing the whole story, including the private moments, while remaining invisible to the guests. It's about noticing the true emotion of a granddaughter laughing with her grandmother and documenting that interaction without interrupting, because it won't be lived again.

"It's also about getting caught up in the moment, feeling a big part of the wedding and experiencing goosebumps just like a guest would. Establishing a connection with the people at the wedding is much more important than capturing 500 pictures of people posing for the camera."

A bride and family members in dressing gowns drink and prepare food in the kitchen, a wedding dress hanging in the next room. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
Markus tells the story of the whole day, not just the wedding ceremony. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens at 1/250 sec, f/1.6 and ISO500. © Markus Morawetz

3. Pack more than one camera

"I pack two Canon EOS 5D Mark IV bodies and one Canon EOS R. I've never had a camera fail on me, but being prepared is the mark of a professional. People pay more for a wedding photographer because they expect to be delivered a glitch-free service. Having three cameras means I can also switch seamlessly between focal lengths."

The range of EF-EOS R Mount Adapters make it easy to use EF and EF-S lenses on EOS R System cameras, with no loss of quality or functionality.

4. Consider your location when selecting lenses

"The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM and Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM are my go-to lenses for weddings. The 35mm is generally wide enough for an entire church and great for creative pictures of couples, while the 85mm acts like a zoom lens, picking out details but ensuring I don't get in the way. If the church is small, I'll switch to the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens to achieve the same effect, but this doesn't happen often.

"I'm generally three to four metres away from the couple, but if I have to stand further away I'll switch my setup to the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM, fixing one lens to each of my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV bodies."

A couple stand by the shore of a lake in a pine forest. The photo is taken from ground level, with narrow depth of field. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
A shot of a couple taken with a tilt-shift lens. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro lens at 1/500 sec, f/2.8 and ISO320. © Markus Morawetz

5. Turn silent shooting mode on

"Part of being a good wedding photographer is being good to everyone involved. I want to be invisible to the couple and the guests, but also to the priest in the church and to anyone else performing a job. I don't want to distract anyone, so try to be as stealthy as a ninja. The absolutely silent shooting on my Canon EOS R helps me to stay unnoticed.

"The automatic electronic viewfinder is also a big plus when shooting in dark rooms or using tilt-shift lenses, such as my Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro lens. It means I can move around more naturally and stay aware of what's going on, instead of becoming engrossed in my camera."

A black-and-white photo, taken from a low level, of a couple dancing together, surrounded by party guests, as bubbles fill the air. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
Wedding receptions tend to become quite lively... Markus captures the atmosphere using high ISO and an unusual angle. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/2.8 and ISO3200. © Markus Morawetz

6. Crank up the ISO

"I rarely use flash, working with natural light and high ISO in darker spots. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV's native ISO range is 100-32000 and the Canon EOS R's is 100-40000, with both extendable down to 50 and up to 102400. This is one of the biggest considerations for me when it comes to picking a camera. It's so important for wedding photography to be able to push the ISO up and still guarantee a crisp image."

A little girl shows a card to a bride, sitting with the groom beside her at an outdoor reception. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
Good wedding photographers will pick out the moments of intimacy and personality among all the activity of the day. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens at 1/8000 sec, f/1.6 and ISO100. © Markus Morawetz

7. Get creative with your camera's built-in features

"The Canon EOS R is nice to have in my bag because it has a vari-angle flip-out display. A lot of professional photographers will tell me that a pro doesn't need a flip-out display, but if they could see me working, they'd understand. I always say to my couples, 'Don't be surprised if you see me standing in bushes, climbing a tree or lying on the ground – you may think it's strange, but you'll love the photos.' A flip-out display allows me the freedom to get into more creative positions."

8. Frame each shot like a piece of art

An Indian woman in silk wedding clothes and opulent gold jewellery holds a henna tattooed hand in front of one eye.

Photographing an Indian wedding with the EOS R

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"Prime lenses complement my personal style. My preferred focal length is 35mm as it really makes me think about image composition. How can I best isolate my object, merge it with the background and tell a whole story with just one photo?
How can I send the viewer's gaze exactly towards the journey I have planned out for them? I use centre focus exclusively, setting the focal length and then playing around with the composition of the shot while holding the back focus button.
When I've clicked the shutter, that's how the photo remains. I never crop anything out."

A party of wedding guests photographed on a lawn in a range of extravagant poses. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
Wide apertures can be useful for more than just shots of the couple... Taken on a Canon EOS 6D Mark II with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens at 1/2000 sec, f/1.4 and ISO100. © Markus Morawetz

9. Don't be afraid to shoot at a low f-stop

"I always use my prime lenses under f/2. It's perfect for weddings because the extra bokeh really makes the couple stand out. Shooting at a low f-stop can make it harder to get sharp images, but it's not all about sharpness.
"Some people expect me to stop my f/1.2 lenses up to f/2.8 to make the images crystal clear, but I find that working at the lowest possible f-stops can add more emotion to the image."

A black-and-white photo of a couple kissing in a forest, with a halo of light dimly illuminating them from behind and reflecting off raindrops. Photo by Markus Morawetz.
Markus is impressed with the low-light performance of the Canon EOS R. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/80 sec, f/1.8 and ISO800. © Markus Morawetz

10. Use experience in other fields to develop your own style

"Don't disregard everything you've learnt as a photographer just because you're new to weddings. I found that I could apply lessons learnt in adventure and sports photography to wedding photography to create a distinct style.
"That said, I'm still learning. I'm open to new ideas and new equipment such as the fantastic new RF lenses for the Canon EOS R. The new Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM and the never-seen-before Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM with continuous aperture are simply a dream to work with. They feel like real milestones and give me the confidence to be creative."

Автор Matthew Bowen

Markus Morawetz's kitbag

Key kit for candid wedding photographs

The contents of Markus Morawetz's wedding kitbag, including Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and EOS R bodies and a range of Canon lenses.


Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

This full-frame 30.4MP DSLR captures incredible detail, even in extreme contrast. Continuous 7fps shooting helps when chasing the perfect moment. High-ISO performance is also vital for Markus: "It’s so important for wedding photography to be able to push the ISO up and still guarantee a crisp image," he says.

Canon EOS R

A pioneering full-frame mirrorless camera that sets new standards. "The absolutely silent shooting helps me to stay unnoticed, the vari-angle display allows me the freedom to get into more creative positions, and the EVF is a big plus when shooting in dark rooms," Markus says.


Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

Offering a wide-angle view with a natural perspective, this classic focal length is loved by documentary photographers. "One of my go-to lenses for weddings," says Markus, "generally wide enough for an entire church and great for creative pictures of couples."

Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L IS USM

This fast portrait lens delivers clear, sharp images full of contrast and colour with razor sharp detail, ideal for high-resolution sensors. A large f/1.4 aperture produces a shallow depth of field. "My other go-to lens for weddings," says Markus. "It acts like a zoom lens, picking out details but ensuring I don’t get in the way."

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM

A fast, ultra-wide-angle zoom lens offering excellent optical performance throughout the zoom range. "If the church is small, I'll switch to this lens to capture details," says Markus.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

With its incredible f/1.2 maximum aperture and ultrasonic autofocus, this super-fast lens is a consummate low-light performer. "If I have to stand more than three or four metres away from the couple, I'll switch to this lens," says Markus.


Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

The EF 135mm f/2 L USM is a fast, lightweight, high-quality telephoto lens. It is the ideal tool for capturing indoor sports in low-light conditions and for shooting portrait photography.

Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro

A specialist L-series prime lens with perspective control, this tilt-and-shift lens allows you to control perspective and depth-of-field thanks to carefully calibrated movements, outstanding optical engineering and precision moulded glass lenses for low distortion, exceptional edge-to-edge definition and 1:2 macro ratio.

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