When Bangalore couple Rahael and Kirit Rosario look through their wedding album, they won’t see pictures of themselves with forced smiles, posing on stage with every guest, or staid portraits of their families straight out of a Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham-like poster.
Instead, they will see their grouchy little flower girl caught off-guard; Rahael in anticipation as she stepped into the church, and later, heaving a huge sigh of relief when she thought no one was looking.
But someone was. That someone was Mark Swaroop, their wedding photographer, who lurked around, looking to capture rare moments that would define the most important day in the lives of Rahael and Kirit.
Swaroop is part of a growing tribe of new-age wedding photographers whose flash mantra could well be ‘Candid is cool’.
Catching wedding couples off guard is not what Bangalore-based Swaroop does for a living — by day he is the National Art Director of Time Out magazine and by night, a wedding photographer and that too, by choice. He started off by clicking away at friends’ weddings. Soon, word spread that here was a photographer who would frame a wedding memorably.
“A wedding has a plethora of emotions and an assortment of people in one place — it’s a visual artist’s dream,” says Swaroop, who has photographed eleven weddings so far, two of which he has charged for.
Admitting that the money is a big attraction, Swaroop says he charges Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 an hour — far less than than more established photographers would. He spends anywhere between five to 25 hours on a wedding, depending on the requirements.
Well-known fashion and film photographer Jitu Savlani, who recently joined the clique of high-profile wedding photographers, admits candidly, “I do weddings because it’s good business. The money is brilliant and you can build a bigger database of clients.” However, Mumbai-based Savlani does only select weddings. Not everyone can afford him either — Rs 50,000 per day is his base fee.
Clients get value for every rupee spent, believes Swaroop who, like Savlani, doesn’t hail from the old school of photographers who would stand on a stool and click. “I’m running all over the place. I see something happening in the far corner of the hall, and I have to rush to capture the candid shot in time. It’s really time-consuming and tedious,” he explains.
It’s also a very intimate process that involves meeting the family, especially the bride, six months before the wedding. Says Swaroop, “I need to become their friend, make a note of who the important family members are and understand what they are going to smile at. At the wedding itself, I interact with the people present, so that they don’t stiffen up when I put the camera in front of them. Otherwise, I resort to stealth photography.”
Savlani likes to “build a story” with his pictures. “I like capturing candid moments like a doting mother applying haldi on her daughter, a look between the bride and groom, laughter in the family,” he says. His USP is creating a coffee-table book filled with glossy wedding photographs.
“It’s the age of digital imaging,” declares Anirban Biswas, 37, a photographer who recently turned to weddings for the money. “Young Indian couples have a global outlook. These couples want candid imaging that is stylistically international for their wedding photos,” he says. But Biswas, who has been a photographer for eight years now, says, “You have to be ready for every moment. How else will you click the bride blushing?”
Many of the photos are worked on too, with Photoshop. While black-and-white is favoured, sepia-toned photos are also popular. They also like highlighting interesting colours, objects or people in a photo, desaturating colours, and playing with light and shade. But however much the photographs are treated, says Swaroop, the ultimate goal is: “The photographs should be true to the emotions.”