It is noon and the sun is at its peak, but P. Murthy looks relaxed styling up a groom's mustachio, removing pimples from the bride's face and zooming in and out until he is satisfied that the couple look their best.
While he is still giving finishing touches on screen, a customer interrupts Murthy about the status of his worn-out photograph. “Those dark spots need to be removed and make me a little more handsome,” says the man while positioning himself behind Murthy to see how he works wonders on Adobe Photoshop.
With the digital revolution, the role of a photographer has changed dramatically. People expect much more than merely capturing an interesting moment in their life. “But work is certainly more than the old film roll days,” says Murthy. He works with Foto India as photographer and also freelances — the audio launch of Raavanan was his last assignment.
Mobile and light-weight cameras have taken away the pride photographers once commanded working in the dark room. Now, even the computer illiterates should learn to work on computers. Otherwise, it is virtually difficult to survive on films as the chemicals are not easily available in this era of instant photographs, say photographers.
K.L. Raja Ponsing, who has been a photographer for the last three decades, recalls enrolling with a computer institute some 12 years ago, where his first task was to get a grip of the mouse. “Waiting to get the print in the dark room was a thrilling experience. Technology has simplified everything but camera cannot give the creativity, finally it is you,” he says.
Event photography, especially concept weddings, is one of the well-paying assignments. But it means running helter-skelter and going all out to convince shy couples to strike some hundred poses. “If the muhurtam is early in the morning, we make sure we are present in advance to acquaint ourselves with the couple and relatives. There is a lot of homework to be done,” says M. Sri Ram of Raman Bros. Work then shifts to the studio, where it involves short-listing photographs, getting the nod from the customer and finally bringing the album ready.
Photographers say if the couple are slim and cooperate, work is easy. Dance photos or pictures that need to be clicked without flash are a few areas that are challenging in the field.
Although film processing, which once brought in business for studios, has taken a backseat, photographers are re-inventing themselves with value-added services such as coffee mugs with photograph. “In fact, scope for a photographer has increased with growing spending capacity and awareness. For a thematic wedding, the average charge is Rs.2 lakh,” says Mr. Ponsing.
Though the field is dominated by men, a few schools and colleges have women shutterbugs. Punjab Association Group of Schools has around three women photographers who cater to all their in-house activities.