Three contemporary wedding photographers talk shop about taking candid pictures,fighting tradition and survival tricks.
Bengaluru-based Anup J Kat likes to call himself a ‘wedding photographer’. Since he began about four years back,he has extracted many unconventional photographs across Bengaluru,Dubai and Thailand,of couples and their wedding parties – the romance in the pictures is impish but still lovey-dovey; the wedding venues are fun places where boisterous guests don’t shy away from striking funny poses. In his albums,there is never a dull moment,never a staid pose. “I try to make every wedding look fresh. I never stand at one place,I keep moving around. Because people have different reactions,you know,uncles,grandparents,ex-boyfriends,” Kat laughs.
As far back as one can look,wedding albums have been formal affairs. The brides are coy,the grooms look uncomfortable,and everything is posed and mostly unsmiling. Then,the idea of doing it all differently dawned. “The idea of candid wedding photography has been around for say a decade-and-a-half. It is more popular abroad,but with NRIs coming here,the western influence has gradually taken hold,” says Pune-based photographer Anshum Mandore.
Through The Angle Productions,Mandore and his partner Saulat Zuberi indulge in what they call “artistic photography” at weddings. They make special efforts to get to know the people involved,meet parents,build a rapport. “But what people don’t realise is that food gets over,but photos remain,” Mandore chuckles. “People allocate minuscule budgets for wedding photography. Most things are still decided by parents and they can’t grasp what we are doing differently.”
For those looking for inspiration,there are some gleaming examples available. Mahesh Shantaram and Sephi Bergerson are two very influential photographers who have led the way in developing the Indian strand of ‘wedding photo-journalism’. For these photographers trying to re-define the wedding album,the aim is to give the process a different perspective. Our approach is,you are hiring us,so let us decide, says Mandore. Kat adds,Every wedding is a different experience,though I personally like the feel of Christian weddings,you have more time to click,more time to think.
So these wedding photographs often show the couple leaping in the air after the ceremony; them shopping at a supermarket still dressed in wedding finery; ‘pre-nup’ pics of the couple and the family sharing laughter; portraits of the bride giving final touches to her make-up; and more.
But India is barely crawling up the radar of candid wedding photography,so the camera-wielders who indulge in it need to develop tricks to survive well. “I generally ask them to hire another photographer for the posed photos,I don’t like being told what to click,” says software engineer Kushal Das,who has also been a “people’s photographer” for the past six years,with assignments mostly in Bengaluru and West Bengal. He is based in Pune but hasn’t clicked at a single Pune wedding so far. “I get many e-mail inquiries,but they don’t want to pay,” he laughs. Kat agrees; “I don’t shoot groups of some random uncles meeting some other relatives. That puts me out of the flow.”
One of the biggest snags can also be the cost of hiring specialist photographers. “There is still much resistance to it. Most people get married only once,but still don’t like it if photographing it is more expensive,” says Mandore.