How did you get into candid wedding photography? How long have you been a professional candid 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 candid 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.
How do you see your role evolving?
As a 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 a wedding photo book maker.
You shoot weddings all over the country. What is the biggest professional challenge you face in candid wedding photography since 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 every single wedding as if it 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.
What advice do you often give the couple? In your opinion what makes a successful wedding day?
I don't think it is the photographer's business to give 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 somehow capture the spirit of everyone's hard work and aspirations by using it within my story.
Many new photographers struggle to develop a personal style, without being influenced by the others. How do you think that you have developed your style and how has it has changed over the years?
'Style' is superficial. A candid 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 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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