3 questions you need to ask before hiring a candid wedding photographer

The wedding photography market is changing, and in many ways the transition from old-fashioned practices to the new age of doing business is still underway. This has also meant that couples hiring candid wedding photographers aren’t completely sure what has really changed. Does it have to do with the quality of images — in terms of creativity, originality, and presentation? Or is it just old wine packaged in a spanking new bottle? 

It is one or the other. Most often it’s the latter, if you hire a photographer without making sure your expectations are communicated or if you have jumped on the bandwagon of candid wedding photography only because it is the in-thing today. 

So, how do you make sure you know what you’re getting into? By asking these 3 vital questions.

What is your style?

The reason candid wedding photography has caught on like wildfire is that it doesn’t follow a “template” like the good old days. Because no two weddings are the same, the images need to be unique as well. That’s the basic premise of candid wedding photography, wherein photographers shoot like photojournalists and also bring in a great deal of creativity to make special images. 

However, the market has grown so big that not every candid wedding photographer operates the same way. Template offerings still exist, and they are often packaged as candid photography, and you might end up paying for “traditional” photography masquerading as candid photography.

To avoid this, make sure you spend some time going through the photographer’s portfolio and have conversations on what is unique about the images and how their style can be described best.

What is your business workflow?

With transformation, you need to be certain that business processes are modern as well. Ask your photographer what their workflow is like. Do they have a foolproof backup plan? Are their shooting and delivery processes smooth and customer-friendly? 

Quite often, candid wedding photographers of today adopt archaic practices, but brand themselves as contemporary photographers. That is contradiction at best. Make sure you hire a photographer who is not just creative and original, but also has processes that are constantly evolving.

How do your edited images and complete sets look?

It is easy to put out 20-30 good images from a hundred odd weddings. It is also easy to shoot and edit a handful of good images. In fact, you can also be misled into believing your photographer is good by just looking at these images — and not know if the photographer is consistent throughout the wedding day and is also good in any situation.

So, ask the wedding photographer you have shortlisted to send you a couple of complete wedding image sets. This will give you an idea of how good the photographer is in capturing a variety of images, and good ones at that. It will also tell you if the photographer only makes creative portraits, or also shoots photojournalistic or candid wedding images. Besides, a complete set will also give you an idea of the photographer’s editing style and quality. 

Before you hire a wedding photographer, have a conversation to understand how they can meet your expectations and photograph your wedding day the way you want. It is important that you hire a candid wedding photographer who is best suited to your tastes than hiring a photographer who may be good, but completely out of sync with your needs. 

Gautham and Jayalakshmi's Tamil Wedding | ITC Grand Chola, MRC, and Crowne Plaza, Chennai

Gautham rang me up sometime in the second week of June, and asked me if I had my dates available for his wedding in the first week of July. Personally, this has been the only occasion I booked a wedding with almost no time even for an in-person meeting. So, I had absolutely no idea what to expect and eventually, this wedding turned out to be the biggest surprise of my career.

For someone who sounded quite laid-back on the phone, Gautham was a revelation on the dance floor. Not only in terms of sheer energy, but also in skill. It was only on the day of the sangeet, which was the first event of a 4-day wedding, I was let in on the fact that he was training to be an actor. In many ways, I realized that sometimes going with an open mind and no mighty expectations can actually work wonders. If you're lucky, that is. This wedding was one of those times, and hopefully not the last. 

Nithin and Anusha's destination beach wedding in Pondicherry

To be frank, I couldn't contain my excitement when Anusha wrote to me for the first time describing her big day. A minimalistic beach destination wedding, with the closest of her friends and relatives, in Pondicherry. And a wedding ceremony that wouldn't last for more than 10 minutes, followed by a reception party. 

While destination weddings are always a big draw, I have forever wanted to shoot one that is honest to goodness, and most importantly simple. What I didn't factor in was that we would eventually end up shooting for a cumulative of 3 hours or so, on the day of the wedding and the following morning in the pool. That meant we had to work twice as hard to make more images than we usually would at a regular wedding.

Now, about the couple. Anusha and Nithin know each other since college, and they began dating a short while after. Through multiple hangouts in person and over phone calls, it wasn't hard for me to tell how similar they are as people -- in their tastes for TV shows, movies, and their idea of having fun. What I see working for them, and keeping them strong together as a couple, is their friendship. It extended to their mutually agreed upon idea of having an informal wedding that would only be about having a "good time" -- including the pool games that the entire family participated in. 

As we said our goodbyes the morning after the wedding, we realized everyone was exhausted -- after all the partying and games and some good old-fashioned family time. 

Photography: Alpheus and Srini

Makeup for the bride and groom (special mention): Anusha herself


Choosing a wedding photographer — how you're doing it all wrong: Part 1. 

It has been a busy day. Like every other work day. Yet, when you pick up a box of milk, you never fail to check the date of expiry. Why is it so important? You’re spending a tiny fraction of your earnings on something you can always discard if you realize later that it’s past its expiry date. Why then do you take so much care? 

You have perhaps caught a whiff of where I’m heading. Let me dissect it for you if not. Do you pick a wedding photography studio because it’s the coolest thing in town today, and that all your friends are talking about it? Or, do you spend time figuring out if they can, as wedding photographers, give you what really matters — images that are imperishable and pictures of your wedding day that aren’t just trendy today and awkwardly boring a year later. Like a mannequin challenge, for example. Or the shot with the bride screaming, mouth cupped and all, and everyone around her shutting their ears. Only if couples would practice the same blocking regime for photographers and pictures that will hold little emotional value a few decades from now. 

Weddings aren’t a formality. So, why should choosing a wedding photographer be?

I’m pretty sure weddings aren’t just a formality. Not just a rite of passage. Shouldn't choosing a wedding photographer be more than a formality then? What I’m trying to say is you are making a decision for life — and for more than a lifetime. So, don't just "hire" a photographer, "choose" them. 

Your grandchildren should be able to look at your wedding images and know a bit more about the life you lived. About how one of the most important days in your life was so beautifully celebrated. About how intensely people loved and connected. Isn't that something you’d like to pass down to your children’s children who may live in times when love and social bonding would be in short supply? 

A personal choice

Choosing a wedding photographer should also be very personal. Like your taste in movies, music, or food. If you commoditize wedding photography, it is a certainty that you’d end up with wedding pictures that are just like everyone else’s. You could just swap the heads and the story will remain the same. 

Choosing a wedding photographer should also be very personal. Like your taste in movies, music, or food.

In reality, no two stories are the same. No two couples are the same. Your wedding day is unique. And only a photographer who is able to relate to your story, and connect with your personality, will know the difference. And capture it true to life. Not with a template, but with a vision. 

When you look at a photographer’s portfolio, don't go by how cool the images are. Your decision should be based on how you’re able to connect with the images. You should be able to look at a wedding set and learn a thing or two about the couple that’s featured in it. 

If you love movies and music that are offbeat, and the photographer exhibits a taste in abstractness and eccentricity, chances are that you have found a match. If the photographer’s images aren’t shallow and you as a person are intense as well, you’ve found a match. 

Take it a step further and give the photographer a call. If it’s logistically possible, set up a time to meet in person. You might have a budget, but don’t make it a monetary decision alone. Consider what we’ve discussed and I can guarantee you that you’ll have wedding day images that are timeless. 

Achu & Deepika's Tamil Brahmin Wedding in Chennai

I have known Achu for a few years now -- he is a BBC commissioned photographer and has a great eye for street pictures. But shooting his wedding was never on the cards, and I wasn't expecting a call from him considering they had another photographer for their engagement. 

I must say it was by pure chance that Deepika gave me a ring one day. I hadn't met her before and it was only mid-way through our conversation that she told me she was Achu's fiance. Over the next fifteen minutes, we chatted up about the wedding, Achu, and common friends as well. Looking back, it was a great first call. In the following few weeks, we worked out the formalities and in a few months from then, I was going to photograph their wedding.

Tamil Brahmin weddings always bring in a lot of enthusiasm. There's just so much to photograph -- rituals, emotions, and unadulterated fun. Achu and Deepika's wedding had all of it.

An intimate wedding with family and friends, it was two long, exhausting days but the sheer number of high points throughout the ceremony meant that I had so many keepers. The most memorable of them all was the overwhelming flood of emotions during the "taali" or the sacred thread ritual -- all of Deepika's aunts, along with her mother and even her brother teared up. To be there to witness such intense love and the bond the family shares is always a privilege. 

Srini, a close friend of mine and one of the best partner photographers you can find, and I made sure we perfectly complimented each other and we landed some great images I'm sure. 

Can the Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art be used to shoot more than just portraits?

 A wedding photographer that I am, the 35mm is my mainstay. So, when I laid my hands on the highly coveted Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art lens, it was as though a machine gunner was handed a sniper rifle. 

What if you want to shoot the 85mm with the street-like approach that you’re accustomed to? 

Make no mistake: if you shoot most of your images with focal lengths not exceeding 50mm, you’ll need to refashion your approach with the 85mm. That’s the ideal scenario. But, what if you want to shoot the 85mm with the street-like approach that you’re accustomed to? 

That’s precisely what I wanted to figure out. 

Getting started wasn't as easy as I hoped. How do you find the space and the distance to substitute an 85mm for a 35mm — and not make standard portraits of people? When a friend suggested we go to the beach for an early morning workout, I realised right away therein lay my answer. 

I knew I’d find my subjects jogging, sauntering by the surf, and some, well you know, just sitting on the benches soaking in the warmth. The challenge would be to create images with context, and frames that aren’t just about bokeh. 

So, that’s what I did. 


I had predefined a few parameters for my test. The most important one was “speed”. It may not be a key criterion for those who use the 85mm-100mm focal lengths predominantly for portraits. But, my requirements were a whole lot different. 

I wanted to make dynamic images — of subjects that were not standing still and staring into space or beyond your shoulder. And, I wanted to shoot them at 1.4. 


To assess a portrait lens primarily (as a secondary parameter, it might make sense) for speed of focusing may sound a bit unreasonable. However, I believe a lens’ true strength lies in its versatility — being able to perform at its best in a range of situations.

Did the lens live up to my expectations? Damn sure it did. I even managed to fire a few frames of my friend running towards a murder of crows and most of the images were as sharp as they come. 



Sharpness means different things to different people. For me, it’s all about how the subject stands out in a frame. I wouldn’t read results off a resolution chart — it’s simply about how I perceive the image. What that also means is, I’d have to take into consideration a bunch of things: contrast, handling of light and textures, and so on. 

All of the images during my test were shot on a rare summer day when the sun decided to take a break. It wasn’t cloudy, but it wasn’t a day of directional light either. So, I knew my test results would be skewed. 

Despite the conditions, the lens showed great promise in terms of contrast even with little directional light, though the highlights (both in the bokeh and the subject) were occasionally a tad flat for my taste. Not something I’d lose sleep over, however. 

I understand that stopping down would have helped my cause, but personally my purchase decisions are usually driven by a lens’ limitations more than its strengths. For example, even in the hands of a highly-skilled photographer, a lens with autofocus issues is not going to yield a 10/10 hit rate. 

Pixel peeping did show great point-of-focus sharpness even at 1.4.

In the case of this lens, pixel peeping did show great point-of-focus sharpness at 1.4 that’s as good or even better than most popular portrait lenses. Even for the contextual images that I was creating, the perceived sharpness was way more than just satisfactory.  

Artistic quality

This is an Art lens, for heaven’s sake. 

If you waited forever for this lens to arrive, primarily for its strangely intangible quality of making good images look even better, you’ll be thrilled. Sigma has been consistent in this regard, and the Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art is no exception. A whole lot cheaper than its competition — the incomparable Canon 85mm 1.2 or the Nikon 85mm 1.4G — the lens holds its own and makes for a better buy if price is the deciding factor. 

Why I still wouldn’t buy this lens

It’s huge — beating even the heavy Canon 85mm 1.2 in both dimensions and weight.

The Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art is a beast. Not just in terms of performance, but also in girth and weight. You have to hold it to believe it. It’s huge — beating even the heavy Canon 85mm 1.2 in both dimensions and weight. Now, picture yourself lugging this behemoth around your shoulders the entire length of a wedding day. Painful, right? 

Maybe, and I say maybe, I’d consider using this lens regularly someday when I can afford an assistant who can do the literal heavy lifting for me. Until then, I’m better off desiring but not giving in to the temptation of owning this wonderful piece of glass. 


Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art: The Indian wedding photographer's new BFF?

Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art: The Indian wedding photographer's new BFF?

This is a real-world shoot experience with the Sigma 24mm F1.4 Art paired with the Nikon D750. The lens has been tested for autofocus, color and contrast, and other image quality parameters. 

Ankur and Shreevi's Tamil Brahmin Intimate Wedding in Chennai

Are you looking for a candid wedding photographer in Chennai who can eternalize the most fleeting moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

Bhargav & Meghana's Telugu Wedding | Vijayawada

Are you looking for a candid wedding photographer in Hyderabad or Vijayawada -- one who can eternalize the most fleeting moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

Subhash & Jemima's Christian Wedding | Chennai

"The couple on a mission" -- that's what I call Subhash and Jemima. To be honest, I'm not using the word "mission" lightly. These are two of the most responsible people I have ever met -- they draw their motivation in life from the belief that there's more everyone can do to make the world a better place.

Jemima works with the International Justice Mission - a human rights organization that works toward freedom from bonded labor, oppression and human trafficking. Subhash works in the Middle East, but actively participates in spreading the message of love to those in need of it. A match arranged by parents, this was a marriage that was destined to happen. Two people who believe that, together, they can do a whole lot more good than individually. 

Jemima called me in June, a couple of months before her wedding date. As you would expect from a person like her, there was no dilly-dallying. She communicated to me what she wanted -- and when we got on the same page, she booked me right away. I'm glad it worked out. Not just because I came back with some great images, but also for the fact that I got to meet two people who are an antithesis to the society we live in today. They care. And they do something about it. Hopefully, I can get inspired and do something more selfless too!

Are you looking for a candid wedding photographer in Chennai who can eternalize the most fleeting moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

Sindhu & Nishesh's Destination Engagement in GRT Nature Trails, Yercaud

For the life of me, I can't remember how I missed blogging this super-colorful, super-eventful engagement at Yercaud sometime last year. But as they say, better late than never. 

Sindhu reached out to me a couple of months before her engagement. Her marriage to Nishesh would bring two fun-loving, kind families together. But, that was something I hadn't known right from the start -- all I knew then was that the location was Yercaud and I looked forward to a break from the searing heat in Chennai. 

South Indian engagements aren't big on song and dance, and are mostly a formal affair. When Sindhu spoke to me a week before the event, she asked me if I could shoot her cocktail party as well, which was to happen the evening before the engagement. That was when I knew this engagement wasn't going to go the mundane way. Boy, was I right!

The two families danced..and danced..and danced. From the cocktail party to a mini baraat, the moms and dads and uncles and aunties all shook a leg. With so much action, all I had to do was be there and do what I do best. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I did capturing them. 

Are you looking for a destination wedding photographer who can eternalize the wildest as well as the mellowest moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

Shira and Anoop's Destination Wedding | Blue Bay Resort, Chennai

There are some weddings you never forget. 

In the winter of 2015 -- or should we say during the peak of Chennai's unique monsoon cycle -- the city faced its most serious catastrophe ever. For over a week, it was inundated by the worst flood in a decade. Some parts of the city had over 20 feet of water, and stepping out of your house involved a fair amount of risk. 

But for wedding photographers in Chennai, it was business as usual. There were interesting reports of couples traveling to the "mandapams" in boats, some of them rolling up their trousers to get married in knee-deep water.

Thankfully, my predicament wasn't half as bad. 

Broken bridges and inaccessible water-filled roads meant I had to take a detour to get to ECR from my base in Pallikaranai. The location was the scenic Blue Bay Resort on the way to Mahabalipuram. 

A beach wedding, finally! Or so I thought. 

When I got there, half a dozen guys in shorts were working round the clock pumping out water from the far end of the resort. The beach end.

The bad news: there was going to be no beach wedding, unless the couple was prepared to move the muhurtham to another date. That wasn't an option!

The good news: there was going to be a wedding - rain or shine. Only that Arabian huts in the parking lot had replaced the far more attractive beach stage overlooking the horizon. We hoped there would be no more rain, because there was a sangeet planned for the evening and the Shamianas weren't good enough for a downpour -- the Arabian huts had barely enough cover for 10 people. 

But there was rain. And lots of it. The 200-plus guest count quickly dwindled to 50. It took a lot out of the family to make the bride smile. This wasn't the dream wedding she had planned. But brave that she was, Shira decided that the show had to go on. So, with 50-odd people as the audience, the small bunch of cousins and uncles and aunties put on a show for more than an hour. 

After the Sangeet, driving back in the night wasn't an option, so the team of photographers and cinematographers found a couple of spare rooms closer to the beach -- spare, because you had to wade through hip-high water to get to the rooms. We prayed for sun in the morning, before fatigue took over.

The morning after wasn't sunny -- a peep now and then, that's all. Thankfully, there was no rain. But the moisture made shooting difficult - haze was a constant problem. In spite of all that, I'm happy that the images turned out pretty good. Mostly because the couple decided the rain and the washout wasn't going to dampen their spirits. Glad they chose to be that way, on the most important day of their lives. 

It was indeed a wedding I'll never forget.   

Are you looking for a destination wedding photographer who can eternalize the most fleeting moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

Agnel and Yvonne's Christian Wedding | Pondicherry

“So, how did you guys meet?”

When I asked Yvonne and Agnel this rather uncreative question, before they could answer, it hit me how absent-minded I was for the past 8 months. Yeah, that’s how long ago I had my first correspondence with Yvonne. And I had never asked them this question earlier.

All they said was, “it’s a long story.” Because we were on a tight schedule, we didn’t exactly have all the time in the world to chat up. But over the course of the day, I learnt that they’ve known each other for just over a year. And that, it wasn’t love that brought them together in the first place, but their families meeting and “arranging” for it in the traditional Indian way.

A Sri Lankan girl from a family that cherished its South Asian roots in all of the years they’ve lived in Canada and a guy from the laidback Indian town of Pondicherry…coming to think of it, I’d say it doesn’t appear unusual. But I must admit I was shocked to know that, initially. And this I credit entirely to the beautiful equation that Yvonne and Agnel share!

To build a bond so unbreakable within a year, despite several giant-sized hurdles, it takes a lot of love and staying strong together—and the belief that they are doing it for each other. And it isn’t easy when you’ve grown up in a generation that is iffy about commitments. But when you see two people holding each other tight and telling each other they’ll never let go, you know for sure it’s a story for the ages. Witnessing it on day one of their long journey, I consider myself very fortunate. God bless this lovely couple!

Are you looking for a candid wedding photographer in Chennai who can eternalize the most fleeting moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

Daniel and Dina's Indo German Cross-Cultural Christian Wedding | Chennai

A guy and a girl meet at a concert, chat up for a few minutes and go their own ways. And by own ways, I mean two different countries in two different continents, separated by thousands of miles. As fate would have it, they remember each other's names. So, when they meet again, over social media several months later, no introductions needed to be made. 

They hit it off, of course. Several conversations later, they get engaged to be married.

This is no story, this is a fairy tale. One you won't hear often. Isn't that why human marriages are so fascinating? Out of contradictions, out of the most unlikeliest of scenarios emerge such beautiful relationships that you keep thinking about them for a long, long time. This is one wedding I'll remember for a lifetime. And as a photographer, I consider myself lucky to witness a wedding so serene in person. 

Are you looking for a candid wedding photographer in Chennai who can eternalize the most fleeting moments of your wedding day? I think we should talk

The spotlight on the groom, for a change!

I love photographing the groom. As much as I love photographing the bride!

In a lot of ways, making portraits of the groom at Indian weddings is more challenging if you ask me. The colors on his person are subtle or non-existent if he is wearing a formal suit. There are fewer flattering poses to play with. Besides, we just have to admit that at a wedding, most eyes are on the bride. This gives the groom enough excuses to take the finery down a notch.

Bagging good pictures of the groom has always given me a lot of satisfaction, because each of them took quite some effort to make. Perhaps, that’s why I love it.

My approach has been pretty simple. Use a variety of lighting tools and techniques, and work on the composition. Everything else falls in place, even the pose in most cases.

I have had a lot of favorites among the keepers. But, there’s one that has been till date my most favorite portrait of the groom. It wasn’t planned, but it wasn’t a lucky capture either.

I had on me — a speedlight/flash, gels, triggers…none of which I used, though it may appear on first glance that a gel did the trick. I wasn’t really planning on using any of those anyway. The light from the window was great, and I could’ve made easy-peasy window light portraits. But, this was not one of the many ordinary days I have had. This was one of those eureka days, when a little observation goes a long way.

Most-favorite groom portrait, and for good reason

I noticed the hanging lamps above the bar counter, and positioning the groom between the window and the counter would give me two light sources to work with. One cool, and one warm. Just like using gels. All I had to do was pose the groom so his face is lit by both sources.

Because the white balance was set to Tungsten or thereabouts, the window light turned blue (or cool), while the light from the lamp stayed warm.

At times, I challenge myself to go beyond the ordinary. Because modern camera technology makes experimentation a lot easier, all you need is a vision and some prior practice. Like the following example, where I used the multiple exposure feature in my 5d Mark III to transform a “regular” portrait into something more attention-drawing.

A portrait using multiple exposures

Simple composition techniques and the use of color contrast can also introduce some variety to groom portraits.

 Really, why should brides have all the fun?

That light!

I am obsessed about light. Like every professional photographer who loves the art of making an image — one who is not just clicking away and hoping to snag keepers. But there's something you must know about obsessions. Your life will no longer be the same, and how you see the world will change.  

Long before I knew anything about photography, walking into a room and sitting there meant nothing but doing just that. A cloudy day was just a cloudy day, perhaps stretching my imagination as far as to think that there might be a shower.  And, the function of a window was to stay open or closed, depending on what time of the day it was.  

I hadn’t met light then and I wasn’t in love with it.  

Strangely, most of us don’t pick up our first camera and start obsessing about light. Isn’t that ironic, since light is the essence of photography? I was riding the same wave…for a very long time. At some point, you realize that you don’t really love your pictures anymore. Not that you aren’t putting any effort into making the picture, but it becomes clear eventually that it is all effort and no deliberation.  

The more you try to figure out what’s wrong with your pictures, the sooner you’ll realize it’s the absence of the most important ingredient in a good picture. Light.  

Watching the work of some great photographers can break your confidence. It isn’t a bad thing. Personally, the fact that I knew I have a long way to go turbocharged my drive to be a better photographer. I wasn’t willing to sit around and wait for good pictures to happen. I wanted the same joint they were smoking. I wanted to be addicted — to light.  

When you’re obsessed about light, among the first things you learn is its variety. This characteristic is what makes it so fascinating. Light a person from the front and you have a well-lit picture that tells you how he looks. Light him from behind, and you’re now adding mystery to his character. Light him from below, and there’s an ominous tone to his presence.  

What I love most about wedding photography is that I get to be the storyteller. And, I get to choose the tools that help me write the story. For all the variety that light offers, you’ll never run out of perspectives.

The image above is one of my favorites. For the simple reason that I didn’t just walk into the room and click away.

A pullback of how I set up the scene. In the actual image, I had closed the curtains even further. 

I am equally comfortable with artificial light (speedlights, video lights, and such) and daylight. But, given a choice, I’d choose the light that streams in through a window…any day. Not daylight in the open, but daylight that I can control to a large degree.  

The window in the groom’s room had two curtains — the regular thick, opaque one and a soft white diffusing layer beneath. I had a choice of opening the curtains entirely and letting beautiful light diffused by the inner curtain fall on the groom’s face. That would’ve been an easy picture to make. The diffusion would control the contrast, and I could control the amount of light by moving the groom closer to or away from the window.   

But then obsession took over. I had a different picture in my head. So, I closed the opaque layer until just a sliver of light fell on the groom’s face and body. Also, by controlling the light and shadows, I made sure there was three-dimensionality to the image. By moving the groom closer to the window, the light falling on the wall behind was also pretty minimal.    

I love the image because I chose to make it this way. By using beautiful light. 

How I shot this: Fast shutter speeds in shade

Water splash

I cherish this image for a lot of reasons, not the least the fact that I made conscious, deliberate choices. In fact, I must and I absolutely must borrow this line from Colonel Hannibal Smith in the movie "A Team": I love it when a plan comes together

Why do I find it special?

In ordinary circumstances, when I'm shooting outdoors, I choose a low ISO...because I'm outdoors and there's enough light for a decent shutter speed. Even if it's outdoors under an awning, in shade, or any place that is indirectly (usually by walls, pillars, foliage) lit by the sun. 

A visual spectacle, turmeric-water cleansing is an important ritual in Gounder or Kongu Vellalar weddings. It is also perhaps the best opportunity for photographers to make publish-worthy images. 

At this particular wedding, I was shooting the ritual in "shade". Without getting into the exact EXIF info of the shot, I can tell you that I had decent shutter speeds at 200ISO to make sure there's no blur in the image. Including the splash. 

But, I wanted to freeze the motion of the water...and bring out some detail and shape. So, without any second thoughts, I cranked the ISO up by a couple of stops and shot the scene with 4 times the original shutter speed. Enough to get what I wanted. And what I got was pretty good. 

Emotion vs. perfection: what comes first?

It's a constant war, but only in my head. I'd rather not discuss it with my fellow photographers--creative conversations are more important when we get together, not debates. 

My approach to photography has always been centered on aesthetics. So, in the beginning, my focus was almost always on making right exposures, framing and cropping per the rules, and you know, the whole nine yards. This is me saying in a subtle way, I was shooting images that were boring. No emotion, unless it happened by accident. 

This is was when I primarily shot animals, nature, landscapes...everything but people. It was only in 2012 that I realized making pictures of people isn't boring at all. Yeah, that's how skewed my perspective was before, all the while assuming landscapes and pictures of water birds digging up bugs were interesting. I'm not saying they aren't, but they rarely evoke any emotion, do they? 

When I did start shooting weddings, again my focus was entirely on aesthetics. Until I started reading. Reading a lot. About the best wedding photographers, their approach to photography, why they shoot weddings...and I knew in time what my pictures were missing. Emotion. The most important ingredient in wedding photography, and I was ignoring it completely. 

I was also following several Indian wedding photographers, who perhaps have the most challenging of photography jobs. Everything about India spells chaos, it's always difficult to execute plans, and most wedding venues are photographer nightmares. Poorly lit, crammed. 

Initially, I said to myself: to heck with aesthetics and technical brilliance, let me just capture emotion to the best I can. After all, most of my peers were successfully pulling it off. I had begun to subscribe to the philosophy of: emotion trumps technical perfection. 

To a large extent it is true, emotion trumps technical perfection. Any day.

But when you look at wedding portfolios of people like Jerry Ghionis, Ben Chrisman and his fellow studio photogs, Joe Buissink, Cliff Mautner, I realized one thing...it's absolutely right what people say about emotion being more important. But, technical perfection is the unspoken rule. 9 out of their 10 pictures are technically perfect, and one of them might be a compromise under extremely difficult shooting conditions. 

It's what I call it the perfect marriage of emotion and technical perfection. That's exactly why their images are so damn good. 

It's what I believe in now. As photographers, we have a lot of things to think about while making a picture. Light, composition, white balance...it's a pretty long list. Why is it so difficult then to make a picture that's both emotionally overwhelming and technically mind-blowing?

Right (or creatively right) exposures should come naturally to professional photographers. Other aspects of photography too. All they need to add is capturing emotion. 

It's not a change of focus. I believe it is never emotion vs. perfection. It should be emotion + technical perfection. That for me defines an exceptional picture. 

This is one of my favorite images. To capture just the emotion, I could've easily let the camera choose the settings for this scene. Depending on where I metered, I would've ended up with clipped highlights (from the side-lit portions of the face) or an underexposed image (if I had metered for the white shirt). I made sure I'm making the picture, not the camera...and I got it right. 

This is one of my favorite images. To capture just the emotion, I could've easily let the camera choose the settings for this scene. Depending on where I metered, I would've ended up with clipped highlights (from the side-lit portions of the face) or an underexposed image (if I had metered for the white shirt). I made sure I'm making the picture, not the camera...and I got it right. 

Business differentiator 1

Destination wedding photographer - India, everywhere


Destination wedding photography is a fancy word to throw around. But, for me it is the simplest way to convey that I can travel anywhere you want me to, and photograph your best day just as energetically as I would in my backyard. If you'd like to see how I photograph my destination weddings, here are a couple of examples.

Business differentiator 2

Naturally expressive


My biggest inspiration, Jerry Ghionis, once said — it’s very tough to be the best or the first, so instead be different. Be “you”. 

I may not be the best wedding photographer in India. But, I’m pretty sure I am like no other. Just like there can be just one of you in the whole wide world. This belief also helps me see and shoot every wedding for how unique it is and as naturally as possible,in my own distinctive style.