Blog2

A wedding in Nainital.

Ever since I photographed the wedding of my proudly 'Pahadi' friend Rahul, I had spread the word that I want to shoot more of them even by taking a cut in the my fees. I absolutely love the all time smiling and laughing faces, the great camaraderie among the family members and the colorful Sarees that the women wear. The energy just transfers onto you and in the pictures.

The loveliest part of the deal was that this wedding album was being gifted to Manika (the bride) by her cousins, one of them is an old friend from theater, while the family had hired their own regular photographer. It's uplifting when your friends believe in you that much. The first leg of the wedding was the Sangeet ceremony in Lucknow where Manika's father was looking after all the arrangements before the guests poured in.

I managed to get a picture of him in a somber mood before that guest actually started pouring in.

I managed to get a picture of him in a somber mood before that guest actually started pouring in.

Love this portrait of Manika which I managed to make in one of the empty halls of the venue.

Love this portrait of Manika which I managed to make in one of the empty halls of the venue.

 

The wedding was to happen in Nainital, but not before the best Haldi ceremony I have ever experienced.

I had a really hard time sifting through the enormous number of photos from this ceremony. Normally a good edit is the one which doesn't repeat similar photos too much, but here each picture was unique because of changing micro expressions of Manika all the time. Never seen a bride having so much fun at her Haldi.

I would break this post here and continue the wedding album of Manika and Sukarn in the next blogpost. Let me know how you like it till now.

Candid photography Vs. Traditional Photography and what it's all about..

I get a lot of calls from prospective clients for weddings and events, and one question or specification comes up almost without fail is, "Do you also do traditional photography?" or "We want candid and traditional both!" and each time I take a couple of seconds off to reply to these question.

I know where it comes from and how these innocent uninitiated clients have been led to believe that Candid photography is the more "high-end type" of photography with shallow depth of field, saturated colors, dreamy lights and expensive equipment whereas Traditional photography is the one with straight posed photographs with harsh head on lights. So let's clear this myth and make these conversations a lot more easier. If we check the dictionary, the word Traditional means 'a long established way' , and Candid corresponds to an informal, non-posed photo, which if I check the wedding album of my parents when the 'candid photography' wasn't in vogue,  have multitude of, and I am sure you will find them too in your old family albums. The so called candid photography in vogue which you see marketed extensively on online blogs and Facebook pages also have posed pictures of the bride and couple portraits, so aren't they traditional too?

A picture from my parents' wedding album which surely seems candid. The photographer would be called a traditional photographer today.

A picture from my parents' wedding album which surely seems candid. The photographer would be called a traditional photographer today.

One more example of a photo taken on the fly.

One more example of a photo taken on the fly.

I agree that a large chunk of the photos were posed, but not necessarily because of an approach but because of the limitation of lights and film speed back then, but that didn't mean, dead as rock subjects, it has a lot of photos which captures the revelry beautifully.

These photos are from the year 1984. I am getting an itch to hunt down these photographers who had captured the event so beautifully. They were called from Saharanpur to Lucknow for the wedding.

 

Now here are a few examples of posed pictures which I have taken during weddings . They were primarily taken during the portrait sessions and couple pictures which is an essential part of a wedding album. A purely candid photographer wouldn't do that and will try to capture those moments of the couple by keeping a keen eye and not letting them know when he takes the pictures, it may or may not translate into masterpieces depending on the proceedings on that day.

Wedding-11.jpg

 

 

One more very interesting trend that has cropped up is to use shallow depth of field which makes the background significantly out of focus and gives a look which is similar to what you see in the close ups of actors in movies. It is a very cool effect and pops the subject out from the background and gives a very dreamy feel. 

 

Shallow depth of field helps a lot to bring focus to a particular piece in a photo but is not the only trick of the trade to do so. I feel that overuse of shallow depth of field is a sign of a lazy photographer who doesn't want to work on his composition because placing a subject in context with the foreground and background is very important. A good composition will do wonders and much more while bringing focus on a subject. Ask any photojournalist about it and he'll take you out for a coffee. I happened to shoot a re-wedding of a photographer couple and during the makeup session I had this same conversation with the bride It was such a delight that she believed the same and I told her how I shot her husband's mehendi ceremony in f16 ( keeping everything focus) to acknowledge what was happening there, to give a feel of the overall environment of the day and the place, not just to make him good and isolated from everyone.

A scene where I felt taking everybody in account was very important because this is what he said, "Middle aged women groping you naked in full view of the public".

A scene where I felt taking everybody in account was very important because this is what he said, "Middle aged women groping you naked in full view of the public".

And there was a time where I just wanted to focus on the bride's eyes.

And there was a time where I just wanted to focus on the bride's eyes.

Then why this demarcation? It might just be a case of wrong nomenclature here but can we just do away with this and know the type of photographers with their style apparent in their portfolios? Wedding photography is a mixture of many different genres of photography which includes photojournalism, portraiture, fashion, and lifestyle. The photographer or the team which is apt in more of these departments with an artistic vision more aligned with your taste(which is the most important part IMO) is better suited for your special day.

Many of my clients come with an understanding that a traditional photographer will shoot the group shots of the guests with the couple on the stage and a 'documentation' of the ceremonies as it supplements a candid photographer which in fact is quite opposite from the reality. Having too many teams create a tussle among the photographers for the best spot and hushed arguments during the ceremonies.. Even while trying a different composition, the other photographers would be in the frame and rarely would listen to step back a little for some time. It is optimal to hire one team to cover the wedding from both the sides of the groom and the bride, this way the shoot is more streamlined and well coordinated and the end album you get has a consistent look throughout. If not, it's better to introduce them to each other and ask them to cooperate. I have developed a practice to confirm it with the client that if they need group photographs at the stage, it's better that one member from our team cover it for them.

Having cleared that, I want toaddress the next biggest myth which revolves around the gear. It is quite prevalent in the industry and among the clients that higher end cameras and lenses are the basis for candid photography. So much so that everyone is busy upgrading to next big announcement by camera companies. What we should look at is upgrading our skills, vision, horizon and aesthetics. Sadly these can't be bought off the shelf and is tougher to achieve with no clear way in sight. Coming back to full circle, it should be the work of a photographer that should determine his capabilities. Terry Richardson, a leading fashion photographer uses a point and shoot film camera, much like we had in the 90's. David Burnett used large format film camera to shoot for Olympics, can you believe it? and here somebody's USP is Canon 5D mark4 within a month of it's release. I upgraded to a full frame camera because I wanted to go with wider frames and there aren't many wide angle lenses for crop sensors but before that my investment was first into the lights. Professional equipment makes a job little easier but it in-itself doesn't ensure professional grade results. So it should be immaterial in front of a portfolio.

I hope it clears some air around these terms and general confusion regarding wedding photography. Feel free to comment about your take on it and do share it with someone who would be getting married in near future and could make an informed choice.

 

 

Highpoints of 2016

2016 for me brought some mixed feelings. By far it has been the year which greatly brought my work to the forefront but also made me rue on the fact that I didn't take up as many projects as I had intended to I was fretting more on managing my finances while I work on my art. But the year has been great in terms of the recognition that it has brought me. I want to share all of that with you guys and a few of my personal favorite pictures .

 

One of the highest point for me this year was getting nominated for the EyeEm international photography awards in photojournalism (Click here to know more about it) . It was totally unreal so early in my photographic career. For a person like me who always questions himself and his craft, it was reassuring in a way to keep working at it. Here is the picture that got into the nomination.

 

This year I really got started into wedding photography and loved every bit of it. It wasn’t much of a challenge considering I already shoot a lot of street but lighting the scenarios is a new realm of world compared to that. This is the shot that really kickstarted that journey and gave me confidence to go about it. I am really proud of this one.

 

One of the most enjoyable projects was shooting for the Repertwahr theater and music fest. It was such a hedonic experience listening to the music of Parvaaz and Namit Das among others and meeting so many awesome artists. Here are some of the pictures taken during the music fest.

Wilson Kenneth on the bass with Namit Das and Anurag Shanker

Wilson Kenneth on the bass with Namit Das and Anurag Shanker

Namit Das & Wilson Kenneth

Namit Das & Wilson Kenneth

Parvaaz, in sync.

Parvaaz, in sync.

While shooting and recording the interviews of all these artists I managed to start a personal project of shooting portraits of these artists, always short of time, we managed to click these portraits under 30 secs each.

The ever cute Kalki Koechlin.

The ever cute Kalki Koechlin.

Anurag Tewari & Mynah Marie.

Anurag Tewari & Mynah Marie.

Prateek Kuhad.

Prateek Kuhad.

The goofy Jim Sarbh.

The goofy Jim Sarbh.

One of the most special events was getting my image exhibited at the prestigious International center of Photography New York.(Click here)

 

In conjunction to that School of visual arts, New York selected five winning images for Night photography as a human selection counterpart to the EyeEm's Virtual images selection algorithm, my image was one of those 5 photos selected by the SVA. (More details)

NIghtcrawler.

NIghtcrawler.

 

This is one of my favorite pictures, also it was taken just outside Sangeet Natak Academy where my theater journey began and kind of let me to this point in life. 

This month EyeEm has come out with their year book and four of my different images are a part of it. You can view the e-version of their collection of images from 2016 here.Below are those four pictures from the collection.

 

 

One of the very enriching experiences was to travel the length and breadth of Haryana and Punjab understanding lives and and stories of the female athletes of these two states as a team member of a research project for the new television series named, Meri Durga' on Star plus. It got me close to people who are like minded with the same attitude towards sports and athletics.

 

Finishing off, I look back at the past 12 months and it makes me realise that these exprience have helped me a lot in understanding my craft and the industry much better than I knew before. It also gave me much more than I had expected so early in my career but it also made me realise that true contentment comes from generating new ideas, images and projects, the recognition, the appreciation makes it all worthwhile but the real motivation to do better has to come from within.

 

Debasmita & Prasanna's PreWedding Shoot.

So I received a message at 3 in the morning if I would be up for a pre-wedding shoot of friends connected through 3 degrees. Staying at home because of a severe ankle sprain I wasn't taking assignments but it was quite sometime since I had done a couple shoot and was getting really bored otherwise, I met Debasmita the same day.  She is an amazing chirpy bright girl, who also happens to be a doctor,  the coolest part was that she told me straight away that she doesn't want any cheesy pictures of holding hands and forced poses. Prasanna, her fiance, who also is a doctor and her college senior is from Karnataka while Debasmita is from Bengal. She frequently referred to him as 'Sir' which was quite funny and instantly reminded me of a beautiful film and song 'To Sir with Love'.  They had this theme in mind of '3 States' in mind as the third state, U.P. is where they met and are staying in, so a prominent Lucknow motif had to be in place, and what better than the Imaambada. 

Once I got to know that Debasmita was a dasher in school, we just had to confirm it by running her around in those beautiful galleries. She calls these her 'P.T. Usha pics'. :)

while we were taking pictures we ran into some moral policing because taking good pictures is somehow offensive while taking random snap shots is somehow okay with the society. This did dampen our mood and made the couple uncomfortable during the day for no fault of theirs but in the end we are happy that we almost got what we went there for and will remember the day through the pictures. I will be adding more of their pictures on my Facebook page and wish a very enthusiastic life ahead as they already have.

Parshvi & Tushar's Wedding story.

Weddings are an awesome affair, exciting as it gets a photographer on his toes because of the music, lights and revelry all around and a slight nervousness to not miss any special moments nearby or afar( also when he's clicking another one). This season I didn't take many assignments, primarily because I injured my ankle on an early morning run which will keep me at home for good 2-3 months and also because the types of weddings I want to shoot are little far and apart to come by. That will be discussed later but I wanted to share one which I could manage because ofVimal, my go to second shooter with whom by my side I didn't have to get into foot stomping baraat and high up ladders. Though I did learn very important lessons this time regarding shooting a wedding.

The wedding day started with the bridal portraits, we could only meet the bride after she got ready at the venue, the makeup artist has a strong policy of not allowing a wedding photographer to shoot in her studio. As soon as I met Parshvi. the bride, she told me there would hardly be any place for the shoot so we decided to use the corridor to the stage for the same.

Instead of making the subject 'pose' I prefer to give them some directions in terms of what the situation is, what they are feeling and why to get a more emotive picture rather than just a body pose and angle.. Here I told her that the baraat was getting a little late in reaching the venue and she is supposed to be waiting to see Tushar for long.
 

And as the faint sound of drums and dance approached us, she lit in a half smile.

 

The baraar arrived and that's Tushar at helm of it. But the most energetic award of the night goes to his father.

The bride looks on as the 'baraat' enters the gate.

And then they finally meet....

20161127-853A7046.JPG

The sindoor ceremony.

I like how coyly Parshvi is holding her saree which reminds me of 70s Bollywood village belles.

Just don't get misled by this picture, this bride will not cry profusely at the Vidai, the proof follows.

In all I had fun shooting this wedding, I will be coming up with a post soon regarding wedding photography which will help future wedding photography clients clear some myths and doubts regarding it so that it helps us in creating in better pictures for them..

For more pictures you can visit the Khicchik facebook page and for my non commercial work you can always visit my Instagram feed. Would like to know what you liked, didn't like what you would like me to post next or just a 'Hi' , it will be highly appreciated. :D