From staid studio shots to clicking it as it happens, commercial wedding photography has come a long way

A red muslin backdrop, a surly yet proud looking man, and a demurely posing bride... That is a photograph you would find, shining in all its glory, on your grandparents’ mantelpiece, or in the exceptionally thick photo album of their wedding.

“Ready? Smile please!” is a phrase that only people of a bygone era can identify with. It is a phrase every couple of that generation heard from their photographer on their wedding day. Ever since, commercial photography has taken a drastic turn towards prioritising exhibition of emotions. Rigid poses and stiff family portraits have been done away with, and what we now have are digitised albums on compact disks or pen drives, with phrases like “Get closer you two; I need to see more intimacy!” being used by the photographer.

Also, gone are the days when marriage photography was all about a photographer being followed by a minion running around with the light equipment, with long wires trailing behind the duo, and the couple asked to pose in certain set ways.

In current times photography at weddings is all about capturing the emotions and candid reactions of the couple, their friends, families, and their surroundings. Lifestyle photographer Shreya Sen, who has been experimenting with wedding and maternity photography since 2009, explains the evolution of the art, “My favourite part of wedding photography is the chaos of it all. I shoot weddings like a story, and it is one of those times where you see all the extreme emotions -- joy of the baraat, tears of the bride at the bidaai, screaming and shouting of relatives when things go out of hand, moments of peace and love when the couple looks at each other. Wedding photography definitely is a lot more challenging because you never know what to expect; but like journalists you always have to be ready and know where the action will be, and capture the decisive moment.” For Ramit Batra, wedding and lifestyle photographer, it’s simply capturing couples in love that he enjoys the most.

Commercial photography sure has come a long way. So much so that brides-to-be now don’t think their weddings would be complete without candid photo shoots of the couple and their families. “I am a hard core romantic and I’ve always dreamt of having a dream wedding. That of course includes me posing with my fiancé, with breathtaking destinations as the backdrop to create wonderful memories. I am so thankful that I am born in an era where commercial photography can be combined with brilliant creativity. I have already set a date with a renowned photographer, as I’m set to get married in December,” says Aditi Srivastava, a gleeful bride-to-be.

Lifestyle photography is turning out to be a lucrative profession as well, with clients willing to pay massive bills. According to Shreya, the payment depends on the expertise, creative style, equipment and various other factors. But above all what keeps the customers happy is a unique display of creativity. She says, “Candid wedding photographers nowadays charge at a minimum of 50,000 per day and it can go up to two lakh depending on the expertise and the style of the photographer, or at times the size of their teams and other additional services, such as videos.”

Ramit Batra, who almost always works outdoors using natural light, says “Each client has his or her own preference. Before the shoot I get to know who I am going to be creating pictures for more closely and conceptualise the shoot accordingly. Sometimes plain white walls do the magic, and sometimes we fly to the white sandy beaches of Goa or scenic backwaters of Kerala to add more spice to the pictures. Sometimes I choose busy markets or even railway stations for shoots. Clients have certain specific things in their mind like the place where they met for the first time, or a family that wants to relive the fun they had in a previous vacation.”

Apart from wedding photography, maternity photography is also catching on. Shreya Sen says “…finally we are acknowledging the beauty of when a woman is pregnant. But of course maternity photography in India is still not as popular as it is overseas…my favourite in maternity shoots is to see the parents’ excitement and genuine unconditional love for their baby yet to come. Women today are still conscious about their bodies when they are pregnant but I always insist on them focusing on how they are feeling and the excitement of it all,” says Shreya.