Photography is one of the best jobs that I have stumbled upon. It's less of a job and more of something that I love and can buy food with it too without getting grumpy doing it. You can believe me because I have switched many jobs over the years. It has not been very long that I started photography professionally but once I did it started with some documentary assignments for NGOs, one for Star Plus on which the tele serial Durga is based on, and some events. I never really planned where it will take me. The first wedding I did was bang opposite my house in a park and was a 'Saamuhik Vivah', a group wedding of several couples facilitated by a charity organization. the article on it used to be on my older website, sometime I'll upload it here. It was one of the most unique and beautiful thing I had experienced photography wise, it was funny at times too.
Over the time I have infused more energy into understanding the genre and look for different and unique weddings to come by. There haven't been many but heck, it's just a start. I want to be known for my wedding work seriously like the recognition I have got for my street photography. But it also comes with its own perils. Shooting commercially brings a pressure onto you and a rough shot list which you have to cover anyhow. That spoils the opportunity to look beyond what's happening at the forefront. I do have a second shooter for that but still it was a while since I shot a wedding just for myself. I wanted to have fun, photograph only when I found something picturesque, to be relaxed, and not shoot if I didn't feel like or didn't find anything of interest. I required this excercise to confirm if my instincts are still sharp or not.
The opportunity came by quickly. An old friend, Rahul whose hostel room in FTII I have sprawled in for days to download their movie database for days and shared stage with in one of the plays while holding my toughest not to laugh during the rehersals because of the disdain look he gives to my character, invited me to his wedding.
I was told that a special folk dance will be performed at the Baraat which is known as called "Chhaliya" and I planned to meet up with this team of folk dancers. Since I was there I took my camera along, a very simple setup, with just one lens and no lights. The intention was more to move around, observe, meet people, experience a wedding after a long time and shoot only when I felt like it. It wasn't a job you see.
So here is Rahul Bora, beautiful and goofy as hell. But he'll be quite sober here all the time.
And here are his feet. :D
The pretty Daadi.
The customary tilaks for all the ladies.
Those lovely noserings.
The group of Chhaliya dancers getting ready to lead the Baraat.
There's a little back story that the leader of the Chaliya dance group shared with me, in the olden times the folk dancers used to accompany the war parties and lead them with a white flag and would be tailed by a dancer with the red flag. After winning the war, they would lead the procession with a red flag and tail it with white one. In current scenario, there's no civil war here, thankfully, and Chaliya dancers have been adapted into weddings where the Baraat is similarly led by these flags. The white flag here is a signal of the Baraat reaching the bride's place and while returning with her the flags would swapped in a similar fashion. Not politically correct now, but that's the way it is and the tradition is preserved this way.
A slightly different version of the story can be read here on Wikipedia.
Unfortunately I couldn't shoot till the end but I thinnk I achieved more than what I had expected to. I got to shoot a wedding without a checkllist in mind, or the usual set of lenses and flashlights that I carry on assignments and still could manange to follow a picture story of all the proceedings. Next time when I do this I intend to do this with a film camera, about which i do have a story to tell. Till then, please spread the word and help me shoot more weddings. :)