Finally it happened. Ever since I had started taken photography a bit seriously, I always wanted to capture an Indian wedding – the colors, the emotions, and the grandeur of everything were the main attraction. Finally I got a chance to attend a wedding with all my gear – the camera, the lenses, the flash and the rest. Since the wedding I was attending happened to be in the family, wife’s cousin was getting married, it had pros and cons but the biggest advantage was that I but could be a complete freelancer without any pressure of delivery. I could experiment and do all that I wanted. I knew I was allowed to make mistakes and for a starter, knowledge of this allowance makes his mind free to be able to learn all he wants.
Ah well, I am not a pro. Pictures didn’t come all that too well. But there was a lot to learn. Here is the list. Why a complete rookie giving tips for wedding photography? Well, what stops Mr. Gangaram Srivastava from letting the world know what Mr. Narendra Modi should be doing as part of his foreign policy or what stops Pinky Pattaby from telling the world how Mahendra Singh Dhoni should be leading the Indian cricket? I know what you would ask. Who are these people? That’s exactly my point. Hence, I am giving some tips.
Come and click us!!!
Dress to shoot – Dress well. Especially if the wedding is in an atmosphere which qualifies as family of friends. Your attire must convey a message to others – he isn’t a hired photographer whom I anyone pull out anytime to click his ballooning tummy along with 20 member of his family. If you don’t want a group of drunken men to call you like, “Hey you. Come here. Take a photo”, dress well. Trust me, there is no bigger turn off than this – while you are about to click the moment when bride’s father is about to hug his beloved daughter with eyes full of tears, and groom’s cousin’s brother-in-law’s dad’s neighbor’s son pulls you away to click him with his wife’s sisters. To ensure such things don’t happen, you need to create an aura around you. Your attire must convey a message that leave this fellow alone. He is here to capture the moments to be cherished. Don’t let the rule of attire be limited to marriages of friends and family members. Even if you want to keep it all casual, dress up like a pro. Make sure your attire throws some weight around. Make sure it keeps the disturbance away.
Carry The Weaponry!!!
Carry the gear – I’ve always followed one principle – if you are going for a gunfight, make sure you carry all the guns you have along with the knives, hand grenades, IEDs and everything you can throw at the enemy. Whether you use it in the battlefield or not is a different issue but the regret running short of weaponry in the warzone will always be more than the pain of carrying extra luggage to the warzone. So I carried it all. I had done a bit of research on what lens to use. I knew 18-55mm kit lens would be too boring for an occasion like marriage, 75-300mm would give me good zoom but not enough broadening of the frame. I was mainly going to rely on 24-70mm and had borrowed 85mm from a friend. I kept clicking. I kept struggling. Nothing was coming perfect. Bokeh was boring. Pictures weren’t sharp. I wasn’t getting enough in the frames. Its then when I realized I also had 50mm and I took it out. Once I took it out, I didn’t use any other lens. It had been two years since I had bought that lens but couldn’t really understand the fuss around it and the real purpose of it. I always considered it as a useless investment till I used it during the wedding. Point I am trying to drive here is – it doesn’t matter that what exactly a 50mm lens is. What matters is, I carried it with me to the wedding. From rotting in some remote corner in my camera bag, it became my favorite equipment suddenly. The theory of carrying it all to the battlefield turned out to be my savior.
Candid is invincible!!!
Be quick – Wedding is an occasion of moments – you get plethora of them and almost entire range of them. And that’s what you need to capture. The moments. Problem is, nobody can anticipate them – when would the faces you are clicking would look like what. Problem is, you cannot wait for emotions to come on fore. Such moments go faster than the come. Problems is, well leave it. There are lot of them. One has to be quick to capture the moments. One cannot wait for them. Hence what does one need to do? Be quick on the push button. Every wedding place will have 4-5 areas where you would be taking photographs, assuming you aren’t a celebrity photographer shooting in Udaipur Palace, and they would have a standard lighting setup. Take a few sample pictures of each of these setups – take a mental note of camera settings in these setups so that when the need arises, you can quickly change it all. Remember, this is a wedding shoot and you are claiming to be a candid photographer. There is no time to calibrate the setting like you can do in a model shoot. This has to be quick. You need to have predefined solution for each of the problems you anticipate and deliver them. You need to prepare a bit in advance. All this is needed to ensure the real requirement – being quick to capture moments. After all they are moments. They don’t last for you to change the ISO or the shutter speed or the white balance. They come and go.
Miracles do happen.
Pray – Fun is in capturing the candid moments. Posing is boring. Challenge is capturing in candid moments. Posing is easy. You need to be lucky to capture the candid moments. You can make your own luck if you are asking the people to pose. What is needed to be done? In my humble opinion, just keep clicking. Click loads of pictures. Clicks different angles. Click different frames. Vary the depth of field. Use the flair if you are getting one. Bounce the flash from strange angles. Do it all you can. And in the end, pray. Of 100s of photograph that you would click, some of them would be deleted in camera itself. Even fewer would qualify for post processing. A very small number would make the real cut. But if you have kept trying and experimenting, chances are high that the balance of probability would give you enough number of photographs to worth it remembering. There are 647 photographs from this wedding in my camera. I clicked 646 of them. But according to me, the best picture was the one I didn’t click. It was clicked by my 4 year old son who snatched the camera from me and clicked without looking at anything. When I looked at the picture, it said everything. Have a look at it and see if you can read the message. Read it from a wedding photographer’s perspective.
So do disasters...
Fire all the cylinders but don’t jump the gun – LCD display behind the camera is a friend. It tells you exactly how a picture looks. But this is a friend of limited abilities. Its small size means you miss out on the bigger mistakes. While I was all too overjoyed by the captures of my 50mm lens, seeing them on a 15.9” laptop screen disappointed me. I had missed the focus on almost all the occasions. There was lot of camera shake killing the sharpness in the photos. All my joy disappeared in to a vacuum. Hence, try all you can in a photoshoot. Don’t leave any stone unturned. But, don’t be so sure about the results. They will go haywire in the chaos of the wedding. What to do? Go back to the previous tip. Pray.
Damage control – This is where processing tools come as a help. Process photos to ensure your wrongdoings are hidden as much as possible. How to do it? Use the tool. What else? Be creative. Make collages. Crop. Make the photos black & white. Use the contrast. Do everything to ensure that blurry picture isn’t a put off. But do ensure your creativity does that and not the blind cutting & chopping.
That ends this piece. To all you experts laughing at my picture, this piece isn’t a tutorial. These are my notes. I have made them to ensure that next time I go clicking a wedding, I take care all these points. I hope next time I make my notes, I am not repeating any of the above.