There are many dilemmas that a couple faces while preparing for their wedding. There are tough choices regarding dates ( the 21st is auspicious but Deepa lands from NY on the 22nd), food selection - should I add the kaju katli to the menu or the cholesterol rich jalebi? and let’s not get started on the process involved in finding that perfect bridal dress.
These are old worries that have been troubling couples and their parents for generations. Now for the first time there is a new question that weighs heavy on the minds of couple looking at holy matrimony. Should I go for a candid wedding photographer?
There are a couple of things a couple needs to be aware of before they answer this question and hopefully the series of posts on this will help them with it.
Firstly, what is candid wedding photography?
Candid wedding photography (and close cousins like Photo-Journalistic photography) is a non intrusive method of taking pictures. There will be no posing or rearrangement of the event for the photographer, she simply bears witness to the event.
The style is respectful of the wedding and its importance to the participants and is a storytelling tool at its core.
Alright that sounds smooth and sophisticated, So damn what?
In the Indian context couples have gotten tired of photographers interrupting sacred ceremonies with requests for poses and reposes, album pages and pages of relatives standing on stage in taunt attention with the couple, and in general the large teams of photographers that disrupt weddings with their bright lights and events.
Candid wedding photography offers an elegant alternative with its quiet and meaningful coverage of an event.
Gone are photographers yelling at the couple to turn just a little bit. No more will relatives have to croone their necks looking over 3 photographers just when the mangalsutra is to be tied. And lets not get started on the array of lights that blind the couples like search lights hunting for escaped convicts.
Fundamentally, a candid wedding photographer approaches the wedding as a story unfolding and not an event to be covered.
So candid wedding photography is best no?
Nope. Not always and I’ll be the first one to tell you this.
An indian wedding involves large number of people who are important to the families of the couple. Often the couple has never seen or met them. So traditional photography is much better at comprehensively documenting all the people who turned up and the various events that happened.
Similarly a lot of families want to trace the various events that happen in the wedding and the gifts that were exchanged in those events. Again here traditional photography is better.
Traditional wedding photographers work very hard and often the demands placed on them are huge. We should recognise this. The only thing to ask is, what style works for you?
Now that you have some context around candid wedding photography let me give you some instances when I believe candid wedding photography delivers its best.
#1 Look away and you miss moments
The emotional nature of the wedding melts even the hardest hearts. Mamas you thought were tough grown men cry, old friends you haven't seen since school turn up to be there for you and even the pandit surprises you in the middle of a ceremony with life-choice-2-roads-diverge-advice!
These are important moments a candid wedding photographer is ready to capture. Often I ask the couple to introduce me as a friend in the wedding. This makes the families comfortable and I freely move about the event capturing just these moments. By choosing to use the flash sparsely, I end up clicking a lot of images that the participants are themselves not aware of.
A delightful experience for me is when a mother of the bride or a relative sees an image of themselves wiping a tear or bursting into laughter and then they remember that particular moment! This is what they would be grateful for - capturing a fleeting moment they were in. This is what they will cherish.
#2 Those friends from far far away
We all have those school friends who we haven’t seen in years. Add that close chaddi buddies who you seem to have been born with. Then we have our gangs from college or school who used to order 3/6 tea at the bakery outside campus.
Well you haven't seen a lot of your friends in a long time have you? A wedding is basically one big sync up where your friends come from both LA and Lucknow come to be there for you. Craziness and nostalgia are known side effects in these situations and a candid wedding photographer captures that well.
I have tales to tell of friends who hounded a groom to go out on a night drive like good old times hours before the Muhurth. Brides have gotten make up smeared when they group hugged their friends from primary school. These are melting moments and the friends totally adore when they get these pictures, often the only pictures of you guys together ( there weren’t cell phone cameras in your childhood years!).
I am often with the bride or the groom through out the days of the wedding and I capture in touching detail reunions of old bench mates and opposite-balcony-friends. The youngish age of candid photographers makes these friends comfortable and often they aren’t conscious around us. This is the recipe for for truly touching candid moments.
3# Behind the Scenes
Mehndi, Sangeeth, Muhurtham and Unjal are beautiful aspects of traditional Indian weddings. They are moving ceremonies with beautiful setup and deep religious meaning. There is another side to the Indian wedding that often goes untold and uncaptured. The preparations.
The bride getting ready for any one of these moments is a simple example. Often an army is required to get this done. The make up artist, a patient sibling to look after the gold valuables, a cousin who doubles as a driver in case of any emergencies and the impatient father who keeps wondering whats taking so long.
Covering the bride getting ready is my favourite part of candid wedding photography. There is something I find deeply moving about capturing a girl getting prepared for her special day. As a woman photographer I get access to the bride’s room and unobtrusively hover around when she gets ready. My background as a fashion writer helps me with getting those perfect shots which capture the transition from simple girl to gorgeous bride.