When Delhi-based photographer Nitin Arora, 25, visited Ladakh for the first time a year ago, it was with friends for an adventure holiday. And he was not immune to the attraction of the barren landscape, snow-capped mountains, and blue lakes.
“But what truly mesmerised me then was the clear night sky with millions of stars splattered across it,” says Arora. “I knew I had to come back one more time, but with someone else who is really fond of stars.”
So, the second time around, a couple of months before he was to get married, Arora visited Ladakh again. This time it was with his fiancée Shanaya – and two photographers in tow. “Like me, Shanaya is also adventurous and at that time had just learnt to ride a Bullet. So Ladakh was the perfect place for her to ride her bike, and for my crew members to do a gorgeous pre-wedding photoshoot.”
The result was a series of fun photos: in one, Shanaya rides the bike while Nitin stands behind, his arms outstretched – both of them dressed in leather; in another, he stands in the middle of the freezing Pangong Tso lake, and lifts her up – both in wedding finery.
Pre-wedding photoshoots are becoming the norm, though there are many different reasons why.
Take a break for love
The months in the run-up to the wedding can be chaotic, exhausting and nerve-wracking. There is jewellery to buy, venues to finalise, menus to taste, relatives to attend to, and guest lists to make – and these are just a few things on the to-do lists. For many couples in love, this phase before the D-day can prove strenuous for their relationship; on the other hand, for those whose fates have been arranged by their families, this can be a time to get to know each other better.
“Pre-wedding shoots are a great way for couples whose marriages are arranged, to spend a day together in each other’s company,” says Tanushree Bhasin, a Delhi-based wedding photographer who runs the company Camera Waale Baraati with her partner Mahima Dayal Mathur.
“We’ve seen sparks start to fly in the middle of a pre-wedding shoot. And that’s a really great moment for us to capture.” For couples who have been dating for a while, she says, “pre-wedding shoots are often a way to take some time off from all the wedding planning and craziness and just enjoy each other’s company.”
Of place near and far
For Annie Johnny and Satyabrata Rai, who’d been dating for five years before they decided to tie the knot, a pre-wedding shoot was a way to capture their memories of courtship at different locations in Delhi.
“We wanted photos that would capture us the way we are and the kind of love we share, in some of the places we’d visited together over the years,” says Johnny. So there are pictures of the two dressed in elegant Indianwear sharing a light moment at a monument in Old Delhi, or candid photos of them sitting on a bench and chatting, at a neighbourhood park they’d often visit.
Bangalore-based Juti Deka says that she and her husband specifically wanted their friends to be part of their pre-wedding photoshoot as well. “And a place away from the city where we could all take a day off. Chitradurga, about three hours away from Bangalore, was ideal,” she says. With the ruins of an old palace and windmills for a backdrop, the setting was picturesque, romantic and fun.
From park benches to serene lakes, the kind of places one selects for pre-wedding shoots can be quite varied. According to Delhi-based wedding photographer Abhilasha Sharma, pre-fabricated sets and studios meant specifically for pre-wedding shoots are losing their appeal, and more and more couples are opting to get photographed in natural surroundings. “Even props are passé now. I prefer shooting in natural light without any props and with the natural ambience of streets, heritage buildings, narrow lanes, trees incorporated in the shots. Pre-wedding photography is getting really stylised,” she says.
All play and some work
But what seems like a fun time spent shooting in beautiful locations comes with its own set of problems. At times, when the pre-wedding shoot is being done at popular places like Old Delhi, the Taj Mahal or Gateway of India, a crowd often gathers to see what’s happening. “When we were shooting in Old Delhi, there were a lot of people around us. So we got really self-conscious,” says Johnny. “That is why we ask the couples if they’re comfortable shooting in a public place. Otherwise we shoot at farm houses and restaurants where we make sure we have the space to ourselves and that no one will disturb us,” says Bhasin.
Then there’s the issue of changing outfits if it’s a one day shoot. While Sharma usually makes her clients use the washrooms of restaurants to change, Bangalore-based photographer Tanjil Tamuli recounts the times he’s had to approach locals in outstation locations for help. He says, “We’ve gone into people’s homes asking to use their rooms for a while so that the couples could change. Most of the time, they’ve been really polite, cooperative, and enthusiastic about what we were doing.”
The photographers like to go out of their way to make the couple feel relaxed and comfortable. Hyderabad-based photographer Debabrata Dey of Thumbspark Creative says that it is the photographer’s responsibility to make the couple feel at ease, “I normally try to strike a conversation or share a joke and make the couple feel they are part of the process.” Bhasin adds, “In our interactions with the couple, we try to keep things casual and make sure they don’t feel awkward around us. We goof around and lighten the mood so that they start to open up and relax.”
After all, what can be better, says Dey, than to capture the real chemistry and emotions between two people who are set to spend the rest of their lives together?
Follow @satarupapaul on Twitter
From HT Brunch, December 20
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch