How did you get into candid wedding photography in India? How long have you been a professional Indian wedding photographer?
When I love or hate something, I love or hate it with a passion. There was a time, not very long ago, when I used to hate weddings to the point that I didn't find it necessary to show up for my own sister's wedding. Later, when I quit an oppressive job and became a photographer, it was apparent to me that the Indian wedding photography market needed some ventilation (to put it mildly). Weddings seemed more tolerable from behind a camera. And it felt lovely to be working with real human beings rather than corporate types. No regrets since 2006. Since then you've gone on to define the genre of Indian wedding photography and today I am one of the best wedding photographers in India.
Who would you say is the best wedding photographer in India? Or let me rephrase that question. Who would you qualify as amongst the best wedding photographers of India?
The Best Wedding Photographer of India! There's no such thing. I've gone on to say as much that there's no such thing as the best wedding photographer of India. I mean, this isn't the Olympics. Higher, faster, stronger. It's a creative effort. I can shoot only 20 weddings in year, and I push myself to deliver my best on that given day for those 20 couples.
We believe you are definitely one of the best contemporary wedding photographers India has seen in recent times. How do you see your role as a wedding photojournalist evolving?
As a wedding photojournalist or documentary photographer, I tell stories using pictures. Although I started as a candid wedding photographer, the scope of what I do has undergone creative expansion over the years. Today, I document Indian wedding culture and chronicle the personal stories of individuals behind it. Of late, I'm fascinated by the medium of photo books and the art of story-telling in book form. Therefore, I also see myself as an Indian wedding photo book maker. Wedding albums are a dime a dozen. Indian weddings deserve their stories delivered in the story book or wedding photo book format.
You shoot Indian weddings all over India and the world. What is the biggest professional challenge you face in candid Indian wedding photography? Is every wedding is unique and different from the other in many respects? Do you do a lot of research prior to the shoot?
The greatest challenge for me is, in fact, exactly that - to approach Indian weddings as if every single one were a unique experience different from anything I've seen before. I don't do any research or planning. I don't take client briefs. For me, everything needs to be a surprise experienced in the moment. The photojournalist's acumen kicks in to react to such moments. It doesn't matter that I miss several shots working this way. It keeps me on my toes and I'm able to create pictures that are momentous, fresh, and unpredictable. Indian weddings are full of such candid moments.
Destination wedding photography. What's your take on it?
I don't like to generally think of myself as a destination wedding photographer. The contemporary aspects of a society is more important to me when taking on an assignment. In other words, it's more important for me to be with fascinating people than go to exotic places. Of course, travelling is part and parcel of the job. I've been all over India as a wedding photographer and to over 40 countries as an artist. I don't want to be seen as a Kolkata wedding photographer or a Lucknow based wedding photographer or a candid wedding photographer in Kerala. My brand is global. My bags are always packed. Elegant Dubai weddings? Sweaty Goa wedding photographer. Ethnic weddings in Jaipur and Udaipur. Been there. Done that. But please, bring it on!
What advice do you often give the couple who are in search of the best wedding photographers of India? In your opinion what makes a successful wedding day?
I don't think it is the candid photographer's business to give candid advice! Weddings come to life thanks to the involvement of many people - mehendi artists, caterers, light & sound engineers, the big sister with ten hands, and not to forget, the dreams of the bride and groom. My job is to do justice to the great indian wedding by somehow capturing the spirit of everyone's hard work and aspirations and using it within my story.
Many new Indian wedding photographers struggle to develop a personal style, without being influenced by the others. How do you think that you, as one of India's best wedding photographer, have developed your style? How has your style of Indian wedding photography changed over the years?
What bullshit questions you are asking. 'Style' is superficial. A candid wedding photographer is better off honing one's world view - the broad ideals that define what we stand for as individuals. That will have a definite influence on the kind of candid photographs we take. I'm not very much into overly romantic imagery. I want to make dynamic images that not only tell the story of bride and groom, but also capture the state of our country in these interesting times.
I have only two 'prime lenses' in my kit: a sense of humour and a sense of humanity. Rather than industry trends, I draw inspiration from the rich traditions of documentary photography, like those of many Magnum photographers whom I've had the pleasure of meeting and learning from.
The vibrancy and clarity in your Indian wedding photography work is something that immediately stands out from the rest. Could you talk us through about how do you achieve this effect and secondly, if you retouch your photographs?
Of course, I work on photographs because I can't let the camera have the final say in what my images should look and feel like. My rule-of-thumb for post-processing is that it's like make-up on a woman - if you notice it, it's too much.
Super-rich colour is abundant in India. That's great for a real-world festive experience but not necessarily for photography. I use post-processing to control the palette from spilling all over the place. I follow this process for all photography, be it weddings or vacations. I'm essentially creating a whole new World of Colour that extends from my imagination.
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