The demand for women photographers who specialise in shooting wedding ceremonies is on the rise
There is a flurry of activity in the room. At one end, a young woman is sitting in front of a brightly-lit mirror with four other women fussing over her. One is applying the makeup, another is doing her hair, yet another is laying out the clothes and jewellery that she will presently don. Every few minutes there's someone coming into the room, slowly filling it with sweets, chocolates, flowers... This scene is unfolding in the bride's dressing room, which is the nerve centre of all the pre-wedding preparations. But wait, amidst all the action, there's one woman, hard at work. She's the official wedding photographer, entrusted with capturing the buzz, the fun and the tender moments that make up the big fat Indian wedding.
The male dominance in the world of professional photography is diminishing, thanks to a growing clan of women professionals who specialise in candid wedding photography.
Women wedding photographers are natural partners for brides, who sometimes feel shy, awkward, and at times even embarrassed while posing for male shutterbugs. The women photographers also bond easily with family members and get complete access to the bride's dressing room and other areas of the marriage venue so that they can unobtrusively immortalise on film all the landmark moments of the big day.
Most women, who make up this select group, come from professional backgrounds ranging from graphic designers to computer engineers. They have chosen to give up their stable, well-paid jobs to pursue their passion. Take Rakhee Yadav, 40, who is now based in the Netherlands. After working as a graphic designer for almost two decades, this mother of a six-year-old daughter is now freeze framing the true essence of an Indian wedding which she considers "so colourful, vibrant and full of emotions".
Yadav took up wedding photography because "marriage is the most important day in a person's life". She prefers to employ a documentary style while she shoots. "There is so much emotion when it comes to Indian weddings. This is one occasion when not just the immediate family but distant relatives also come under one roof, something that is rare everywhere else in the world. It is not just the emotions of the big day, even the build up to it is momentous," she elaborates.
An avid traveller, Yadav, who is currently in India, likes to document every small incident and activity leading up to the wedding day: The dinner mess left from the night before, the mother directing the domestic help; the bride speaking to a friend on her mobile phone as she is being dressed by two other women; the father rushing around to complete one of the million chores that just have to be done.
Like Yadav, Priyanka Sachar, 35, a computer engineer based in Gurgaon, has switched careers recently. She was looking for a way to escape her nine-to-five routine so she left her secure job in 2009 and took up photography full-time. Sachar decided to take the plunge because she was sure of her talent – she had spent hours taking pictures as an amateur, quite a few of which had been sold at exhibitions.
In the last year-and-a-half, Sachar, who sees her photographs as "fine art", has already travelled across the country to shoot weddings. "The marriage season, from October to February, is crazy, “she says.
Sachar takes niche, arty pictures that convey an array of emotions, from nervousness to excitement to laughter. “No 'sanitised' group shots on stage for me; those are done by studio photographers,” she says. Incidentally, according to Sachar, studio photographers are often very curious when they spot a woman photographer around, and many assume that “we may be there because of the leverage and accessibility that we have, vis-à-vis the family”.
For Hyderabad-based wedding photographer Madhavi Kuram, too, posed pictures are out – precisely because, like Sachar, she believes those kinds of pictures can be taken by any studio photographer. According to Kuram, who lived and worked in the United States as an IT professional for 13 years these days it has become easier for women to take up photography as a viable career because they enjoy greater freedom of choice. (WFS)
Keywords: women photographers