As kids, we all had those moments. Bored, we’d wander to our parents’ cupboards, root about the shelves, and emerge triumphantly with big, fat, ornately decorated photo albums – the pictorial proof of our parents’ and relatives’ wedding days.
Going through the albums was a blast. We’d chortle over those outdated fashions, exercise our wits over the sizes and shapes of the wedding guests, make rude remarks about mandap decorations, but most of all, comment on one particular thing – the poses and compositions those old-time wedding photographers insisted on. Every photo looked the same as every other photo. Only the faces and outfits changed.
You wouldn’t see wedding photos like those often these days. In fact, if young couples had their way, you’d never see photographs like that again. What’s cool now is candid shots. Wedding pictures are now keeping it real.
"There is no denying the fact that weddings are a kind of family reunion," says corporate communications executive Aroma, who recently got married. "But at the same time, I wanted my wedding pictures to tell a story about my husband and I as a couple. I wasn’t keen on pictures of who came for my wedding and who wore what. It was my special day and I wanted to capture those memories forever."
Parents, at this time, are not too thrilled about this new photo trend. But well-travelled couples love it. "Candid photography or a documentary style of wedding pictures has been trendy internationally for a few years," says Andrew Adams, a wedding photographer from Toronto now shooting in India. "A lot of NRIs who are used to seeing this want a similar experience for their own weddings. It’s a more contemporary approach and young people prefer it."
Here’s a look at some new wedding photography. Andrew Adams
Moved from Toronto to India to capture Indian weddings as "they are so colourful and emotionally rich." Doesn’t offer fixed packages as each wedding is unique.
Raised in a non-religious Canadian household, Andrew Adams was not exposed much to world culture until he moved away from home to study photography. "After my schooling I wanted to travel and explore the world. I have always been fascinated with South Asian culture, so naturally I became very interested in photographing Indian weddings," says Andrew.
Why weddings? Because, according to Andrew, they allow him full creative freedom, something not often found in other types of commercial photography.
Candid photography is Andrew’s forte, something that he feels very strongly about. "My style is unobtrusive and my goal is to tell the true story of your day, as seen through the lens of a sensitive, documentary photographer. And candid shots are real," he says.
This means that planning isn’t possible. Shooting a wedding documentary style, Andrew must just go with the flow. "I capture what happens as it happens, naturally," he explains. "For posed photos, yes, I do instruct the bride and groom and family when it’s appropriate to do so, but NEVER during a ceremony! I would never interfere with the religious portion of the wedding."
Since some parents are not 100 per cent certain of the results of candid photography, Andrew always suggests that they hire another photographer to do the posed pictures, so everyone is happy. Meanwhile, he himself is happy shooting at all kinds of weddings in all kinds of places. He prefers shooting in colour, since Indian weddings tend to be bright, but when it comes to emotional moments, he’d rather do black and white.
Having shot Indian weddings for 12 years, Andrew naturally has a lot of memories. "My most favourite moments are often during the vidai ceremony, when it’s all about raw emotions," he says. "These are the best moments to capture. By this time the family is used to me and my camera and often let their guard down, so I am able to capture the real, heartfelt moments. These will be family treasures to keep for generations to come."
He also focuses on the larger family, especially the grandparents. "It may be the last photograph ever taken of the whole family together and these photographs will become cherished family heirlooms," he says. Sharik Verma
Left his job with Wipro to focus on photography. Loves wedding photography because it captures different cultures. Is a fanatic about travelling, both in India and abroad. Some people would seriously envy 24-year-old Sharik Verma, once an engineer with Wipro, now a photographer of weddings – and more. "During my tenure at Wipro, I bought a camera and went about clicking for fun. Then, I decided to take a trip to Zanskar and came back with lots of photos, including some of the Dalai Lama," says Sharik. "Two of my best pictures of the Dalai Lama were sold for charity by an NGO, which made me think about photography seriously. And then I realised that I could combine that with travel. Two of my favourite things at one shot. I was decided."
But even a travelling photographer can’t survive without money, and Sharik desperately needed a portfolio. "So I decided to try shooting products and did some fashion assignments as well. But I missed the creative satisfaction I was looking for."
Then a chance meeting with Atul Pratap Chauhan, who not only did commercial photography but had made a mark in the field of wedding photography, showed Sharik the way. "Atul looked at my work and inspired me to take up wedding photography which would not just give me a chance to showcase my creative side, but also let me travel," says Sharik.
But Sharik doesn’t like being called a wedding photographer. He prefers to be referred to as a photojournalist. "I don’t just click pictures, I get involved with the family in every moment of the celebration and then try to capture their moods and emotions from an insider’s point of view," he explains.
"I interact with every important person of the family, understand their personalities and remain with them during the preparations as well as the final celebrations. I dance with them, eat with them and feel as sad as everyone else when the wedding is over."
A large number of his clients are NRIs who are used to seeing this kind of involvement among photographers abroad and want the same style to be adopted here. Sharik is a big fan of minimalism and that’s how he shoots wedding photos too.
"The best thing about Indian weddings is the fact that there is a riot of colours everywhere and I prefer to capture those real colours with as little use of photoshop as possible," says Sharik.
So are there any favourite weddings moments that he’ll remember forever? "I really feel that destination weddings are much more fun as the gathering is small, the location is usually fantastic and you are able to capture the emotional moments in a much better way," he says.
"Besides this, intercultural or inter-religious weddings are also favourites as you get to see all kinds of different ceremonies and rituals."
One great memory is of a wedding in Udaipur between two UK-born Indians. "It was a very close family affair that gave me the chance to capture some great moments, and I developed a great rapport with the families," says Sharik. And once the wedding season comes to an end, he’ll take his earnings on a road trip through Europe – taking pictures all the way. Priyanka Sachar
A project manager in the IT industry and an enthusiastic photographer, Priyanka ‘marries fine art with photography’. She’s one of the very few female wedding photographers in India. She works as a manager in the IT industry, but Priyanka has always been passionate about photography. "Being a ‘memories’ person, photography started as a requirement to document my travels, but that soon became a form of metaphorical expression and symbolism through images," she says. Her work, which "marries fine art with photography," has won her much recognition, but in October 2010, Priyanka decided to take on commercial wedding photography.
"Marrying (no pun intended) ‘Fine Art’ with wedding photography was only natural," she says. "It involves clicking the same situation artistically and without turning the subjects into bunnies caught in the glare of headlights. It is probably one of the most challenging forms of photography ever."
That’s because there’s a lot going on at every given moment. "So one needs to be alert for what ‘may’ come next in terms of emotions and candid moments," explains Priyanka. "Unlike traditional studio photographers, I prefer using ambient or naturally available light to create my pictures. I avoid harsh lights and flashes directly popping into the faces of the subjects."
The keys to getting that perfect candid shot, she says, lie in spotting moments as they unfold and being almost invisible so that people are not conscious of being clicked. Priyanka loves what she does, particularly weddings that have some sort of twist to them. "I can’t wait for gay weddings to be legalised in India so I can do something different," she grins.
As one of the very few female wedding photographers in India, Priyanka is much in demand with brides, who are more comfortable with a woman taking photographs while they are dressing for the ceremony. "Moreover, I am a person from their generation, with a similar kind of background, so that puts them at their ease instantly, because it’s starkly different from a ‘studio’ photographer bhaiya-ji experience," says Priyanka with a chuckle. Atul Pratap Chauhan
Left a job in the hospitality industry to pursue his passion for photography. Does commercial photography but wedding photography lets him be at his creative best. Atul Pratap Chauhan, a commercial photographer, stumbled into wedding photography by sheer chance. "I came to Delhi in 2009 and was assisting Sephi Bergersen, a well-known name in wedding photography. He was shooting a Pakistani wedding and I was helping him with some interior shots," he remembers of that fateful day. "While doing that, I took some candid shots of the wedding ceremonies that Sephi saw later and liked. He advised me to follow it up seriously and I decided to give it a shot."
For a commercial photographer constrained by working to a client’s specifications, wedding photography often means complete creative freedom. While destination weddings are what Atul prefers the most, he is open to covering weddings anywhere in India. And his favourite weddings are the intercultural ones, which offer a wide range of emotions, colour, drama and action.
"Although, I’m usually hired by the bride, meeting the bride and groom together is essential to understand the level of comfort between the two," he says. "This is important while doing pre or post wedding shoots with them. "In fact, for couple shots like these, I usually prefer to take them to locations like Corbett National Park, where the two of them get comfortable with one other."
Since Indian weddings are colourful, Atul naturally prefers to shoot in colour. But emotional moments, such as the vidai, almost demand black and white, he says, because that kind of photograph enhances the emotion. "And in fact, it’s the vidai moments that are my favourites at all the weddings I shoot," Atul adds. "The range of emotions you see is so wide." That he loves what he does is obvious – the 30-year-old’s plans for the immediate future include an exhibition on village weddings.
From HT Brunch, January 22
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