Capturing wedding wows

Joseph Radhik on what makes a great picture and his journey from IIM graduate to celebrated photographer

Updated - October 18, 2016 12:48 pm IST

Published - June 09, 2016 03:36 pm IST - Chennai

Wedding photographer Joseph Radhik Photo: Special Arrangement

Wedding photographer Joseph Radhik Photo: Special Arrangement

Joseph Radhik is a confident presence on stage, animatedly talking about his passion for photography and the process. Speaking at The Royal Wedding Expo 2016 by at ITC Grand Chola, Radhik is in his element. One of India’s most celebrated wedding photographers, his pictures tell ‘stories’ that preserve the moment, and its intimacy, but, he emphasises, require a deliberate method to capture.

The journey from being an IIM graduate to a celebrated, multiple award-winning photographer has been fun, says Radhik. His search for a photographer for his sister’s wedding back in 2008 bore no luck, but he ended up “on a journey of wedding photography around the world”. While he says he simply started with good photography back in 2001, his endeavour today is to “try to make an image that speaks without my watermark”.

For Joseph, the ‘story’ in a wedding is derived from observation and intimacy with the people he’s photographing. To do wedding photography, whether they be “real moments” or “timeless portraits”, one must love people, he says. He emphasises that the photographer must “feel the moment”, rather than see it, so as to capture the emotions at play. “The story then makes itself.”

According to him, it’s important for the photographer to meet the couple on a regular day, so you get to see the side of them you wouldn’t otherwise on their wedding day, when they’re perhaps more stressed to complete their fantasy. “Meet them in reality, shoot them in the fantasy,” he says.

The photographs themselves have a vibrant colour palette, which Joseph says, is “a consequence of the fact that we’re Indian wedding photographers. We’re not the white gown, black tuxedo types; we’re the sherwani, lehenga, Kanjeevaram saree type. We are orange, red, yellow, blue; we’re anything but black and white”. Having photographed celebrity weddings like those of Shahid Kapoor and Mira Rajput’s, Radhik insists that the photographer should be known for the images rather than the subjects — the objective being to get the viewer to spend as much time on the image as possible.

He believes they’re more challenging to shoot than regular weddings, since “you’re going to shoot somebody who’s always used to being in front of a camera. They’re not as ‘real’ as normal subjects”. With a chuckle, he adds, “but they look good”.

Talking about good photography, Radhik has an honest take on the current purveyance of amateur photographers: “Don’t believe that social media success is success,” terming social media an “amplification of friendships”.

He believes that the only way to understand great photography is to compare your pictures with the works of photographers who are successful outside of social media. “If you’re able to recognise the gap, you are, for sure, going to become a good photographer yourself. If you don’t, then there’s a problem,” adding that he goes back to the photographers who inspired him, every time he wants a reality check.

So, where does Radhik see his story going from here? With Stories, the Mumbai-based team of wedding photographers and cinematographers that he and his brother manage. He adds that five of them stand on their own now, with clients specifically asking for them. He’s also keen on getting more photographers on the Stories level by imparting education, “to maybe distil down how we did this”.

Working on a concept called PEP — Portrait and Event Photography — to break down the process and give it away, Joseph says with a smile, “If you’re good enough, you’ll catch it. If you’re not, you wouldn’t have gotten it anyway.”

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