“The day you think that you’ve learnt all that there is to learn, that’s the day you stop succeeding”
“Wedding Photographer of the Year” is an award to be proud of. Tell us your journey from an advertising man to be known as the National Award Winning Photographer.
Wedding photography is just something that gradually “happened”. Rewind to when I first became a photographer, shooting weddings hadn’t even crossed my mind. When Praerna and I first met, a lot of people we knew started getting married (as it is when you’re in your late twenties!). During this time we realised that most wedding photos were fairly standard, and largely templatised. Nobody was focusing on the storytelling and images were largely posed and mechanical. On a lark, we started carrying our camera along to weddings – and in time, discovered that our photos were in huge demand!
We realised that there was a huge gap between how wedding photography happened in India at that time, and the kind of quality and innovation that exists abroad. When we got married, candid wedding photography as it is today didn’t exist – and we were fairly disappointed with the wedding photos our professional photographer took. Mind you – they were technically sound – and there was nothing wrong with the photos – it’s just they completely missed the fun we had at our wedding, and had no element of our story in them. We just knew we could do a better job had we done it ourself – and that’s when we started seriously thinking of doing it full time. We started juggling wedding photography gigs in addition to our corporate careers and as things progressed, we discovered how much fun wedding photography was. We reached a point where there was just no way we could juggle two careers together – and decided to bite the bullet and do wedding photography full time. The rest is history 🙂
Why, among the different photography fields did you choose Wedding Photography?
First and foremost, I truly believe that wedding photography as a genre in India today has truly come of age! With the world becoming a small place, and with global trends in storytelling and high quality imagery being so easily accessible through the internet, Indian couples today want the best day in their life documented in the best way possible. As couples started to seek better options, the wedding industry started to grow with them – and that’s why today Indian wedding photographers are amongst the best in the world. This is probably one of the reasons I chose wedding photography – it’s a vibrant and energetic field. When you consider that an average day in the office for a wedding photographer is at the happiest day in someone’s life – it’s a great place to be in!
What is your favorite part of the wedding to photograph?
While most parts of the wedding are equally interesting, I’d have to say that smaller intimate ceremonies like a haldi ceremony are great fun to shoot. It’s a relaxed time, with only close family members present – and it ALWAYS breaks down into riots of laughter with all sorts of shenanigans going on! It’s great fun to see Maamajis and Chaachajis doing their best to paste haldi on each other while the bride looks on!
What are the challenges of being a wedding photographer?
If you consider the vastness of our culture. North Indian, South Indian, Christian, Muslim and the multiplicity of cultures and rituals within each type really makes Indian weddings seem to be more challenging than Western ones. A few things that stand out for me:
• Indian weddings normally stretch anywhere between two and five days (or more!) with an abundance of traditions and rituals, unlike their Western counterparts. While they’re great fun to attend, working in an Indian wedding can sometimes be exhausting!
• Most ceremonies that form a part of Indian weddings, especially Hindu ones, are dictated by a mahurat/ auspicious time. Coupled with the fact that nothing and no one in India seems to begin or arrive on time, there’s always a mad rush between the baraat, milni, jaimaala and the pheras. There isn’t really a minute to catch your breath! And I can tell you that it doesn’t get easier with time.
• Sometimes when both sides in the wedding decide to get their own photographer, or when the traditional photographers and videographers hired work in large teams with a lot of equipment, tangle of wires on the floor and harsh lighting – there are many (literally) obstacles in the way of a good shot.
• There are always many members of the family and friends who love sharing their opinions on how things should be done – very often causing a lot of confusion.
All-in-all, there’s enough to keep the photographer on his/ her toes!
What does your Camera kit contain?
We use all types of camera systems to get the perfect shot. At the moment, we are predominantly using Nikons – along with myriad array of accessories like lenses, straps, lights, flashes, triggers, stands, pods, cards and everything else that goes along with it!
There is a trend of editing images post shooting to enhance them. What tools are generally used for such editing work?
Selection, culling and editing are an integral part of the photography workflow. We primarily use Adobe Lightroom as our tool of choice for post production. It helps us manage large number of files and helps us in getting the right images to the client fast!
Tell us your idea of a perfect picture and have you clicked one?
Never! I am a perfectionist – and would never label any of my images as “perfect”. On retrospection, there is ALWAYS something wrong – always something that could have been made better. I would never want to consider an image of mine perfect – that would mean there is nothing to do better the next time!
What advice would want to give to the aspiring photographers?
When you start your journey as a commercial photographer, it’s important to decide what genre you’d like to specialize in. Of course, you can take your time doing this; spend the first couple of years working with mainstream fields like fashion, editorial, food, wildlife and so on. But after you spend sometime exploring the various choices available, it’s important to choose a field and stick to it. Remember, it’s nice to be a jack of all trades – but it’s also important to be a master of one!
Further, if you’re looking to make photography your primary source of income – it’s also important to learn how to market yourself. Apart from the art of photography, you need to be able to build a business around it. What this means is that you need to learn client servicing, accounting, vendor management, post-production, complaint management and all the other things that go around managing a business.
Lastly, always keep an eye on the world around you. It’s easy to get lost within your little bubble; have a look at what contemporary photographers across the world are doing. Read books, magazines, journals, blogs and almost anything you can get your hands on to stay abreast with technology, styles and workflows. Remember, the learning NEVER stops. The day you think that you’ve learnt all that there is to learn, that’s the day you stop succeeding.
To see more of Arjun’s work, click here