India’s wedding photography industry has seen a surge of creativity in recent years.

From IT to shutter speed corporate professionals are changing Indias wedding photography Photo courtesy Oru Photo
Features Photography Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 18:30

At 18, Chennai-based wedding photographer Mahesh Subramanian, of Oru Photo, pursued a degree in engineering like every other student of his generation in South India. But a couple of years after a post-graduate degree in Singapore, he realised that he wanted more out of his profession.

“I have always been a photographer and I experimented a lot with my camera during my IT days. It just grew on me. The viewfinder is the rabbit hole to my wonder land. I feel like a super hero, freezing moments in frames,” Mahesh says.

“Not every hobbyist can become a photographer, of course. I invested time learning the fundamentals at Canon. I learnt lighting with Ravi Menon. I travelled wide and far to learn theoretical photography. Of course, most of my initial assignments were unpaid,” he adds.

A decade ago, wedding photographers were not high on the (vast) list of expenses for a big, fat Indian wedding. Neighbourhood photo studios were usually chosen to shoot the wedding, their job being to hand over a wedding album that was more or less a register of who had turned up and who had not.

Today, it’s an entirely different scenario as a new generation of wedding photographers have given the industry a major facelift. So, what is the difference between then and now? A much-needed dose of creativity, Subramanian says.

From corporate employment to wedding photography

“It’s not about instructing the couple to look up, down or smile into the camera. It is about capturing moments when they are being themselves,” says Teju Nookala, a photographer from Hyderabad/Tirupati, who quit his job at a multi-national corporation to take up wedding photography.

“You need great people skills. The bride and groom need to have a connection with the photographer.” Interestingly, neither Mahesh nor Teju considered photography as a career when they were younger. But after exploring their passion for the camera, they decided to switch to a profession they loved. 

Though there are some reputed wedding photographers who have carved a niche for themselves in the Southern metros, there is still enough space for budding photographers who have good camera sense to enter the market, both Nookala and Subramanian agree.

Indian weddings

With its riot of colours, expressions, tears and general chaos, Indian weddings are a photographer’s treat. But with crowds come challenges in capturing moments from the right angle.

Fifteen years ago, weddings and photography stayed within the walls of traditional halls. But the creative potential of today’s wedding photography has couples opting for Instagrammable photoshoots at beaches, jungles, hills and lush fields.

Couples often do pre- and post-wedding photo shoots and films. These shareable photos and movies are rapidly replacing text as the preferred form of storytelling on social media.

Importantly, there is an emerging population of brides and grooms who are willing to pay for their weddings all by themselves. Earlier, parents bore all the expenses and photography may not have been a priority for some middle-class parents. But that is changing today.

Pros and cons of this offbeat career

While photographers build a reputation, the career can be challenging, with clients often asking them to work for free. Saying “no” when you are trying to establish yourself is difficult, particularly when you need to build a network and a portfolio.

With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and client networks, it’s easier to get recognised and book future assignments. A friend of a friend may like your work, which he or she sees on Facebook, and get in touch with the photographer.

But like every other business startup, there is a lot of uncertainty and many wedding photographers hold on to their day jobs because they are scared to make the jump.

What’s the next big thing in wedding photography?

“Theme based wedding shoots,” says Mahesh who recently did a Rajnikanth-themed wedding video for a couple who are die hard Thalaivar fans.

“There are superhero themes, period themes on the cards. When there is no constraint, we travel wide and far with the couple and shoot them throughout. We are also exploring the option of having creative copy writers to do captions for each picture in the album. And because of modern day photographers who deliver dreamy pictures, families like yours and mine are willing to explore the idea of weddings in resorts and other visually amazing locales.”

(All photos courtesy Oru Photo)

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