A vaadyaar checks his FB account on his smartphone right in the middle of a wedding ceremony. And Vinay Aravind has ‘caught' him in the act. “But he was only the minor vaadyaar ,” Vinay hastily points out. He says he would hate to get the junior priest into trouble.
Vinay is a wedding photographer. He was not always that. He was a corporate lawyer first. After six-and-a-half-years in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, he decided that was not the life for him. “I did not know what I wanted to do. But I knew that if I sat around waiting for the answer, I wouldn't get anywhere, so I jumped into the deep end.”
Vinay bought a camera and offered to be the photographer for a friend's wedding. That was the starting point. A year later, he is 24 weddings old. “Remarkably painless,” is how he describes his transition from the boardroom to the mandapam. “The National Law School stint did not go all waste as it provided me a great network. And, though I am definitely not anywhere near buying a personal jet, I get by quite comfortably,” says Chennai-based Vinay. Vinay does concert photographs too. But weddings are his favourite.
“I love wedding photography because you can get to capture real feelings, and they make for very powerful images,” he says. He shares a favourite picture. It is of a bride. About to be driven off, she looks out from her window. Tears mess up her kajal. The black-and-white photograph is suffused with emotion.
Food is another reason Vinay loves his job. “Whether I am shooting in Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata or Bhubaneshwar, I get to eat great food. For instance, in Bhubaneshwar, I discovered that the local seafood is terrific.”
Unlike other types of photography where one creates to a brief or to a client's preference, here one is left quite alone, says Vinay.
“Before I take up a project, I set out terms and conditions to ensure that I have full independence. I like it this way. But as it is in the case of all types of creative work, it's challenging. And it is always a pleasure to crack a problem. No one shoot is like the other, no one venue is like the other, the light is never the same, and every shoot I do, I end up learning valuable lessons.”
“My favourite focal length range is between 50 mm and 80 mm. At this range you're close enough to the action to really ‘smell it' and that closeness is reflected in the perspective that you see in the photograph. At the same time you're far enough to get shallow depth of field and beautiful blurred backgrounds. Someone said that shooting from farther away (such as say 200mm) can create beautiful images, but it's a bit ‘pervy', simply because subjects are evidently unaware of your presence.” The subjects should not be self-conscious. They should be comfortable in their skins, he says. “That gives the pictures the right perspective and a naturalness that is essential for quality wedding photojournalism.”
The only time Vinay is unenthusiastic about his job is when his feet are killing him after an all-day and nearly-all-night shoot; or when clients forget to arrange for his transport and he has to hunt for autos. “I sure as hell feel grumpy about it. I now insist there is a car to ferry me to the shoot location and back. I could also complain about weight gain because of the food, but that's nobody's fault but mine.”
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