Published: Verve Magazine, Nerve, September 2010
The most ignored aspect of a wedding is the one you would ideally want to do right for posterity – the pictures! Verve looks at various options for the album
Ehsaan Faridafsar’s photograph on the adjoining page has been taken from a photo essay in Verve’s iconic black-and-white issue – there is something blissfully happy and memorable about the imagery. Having a photographer willing to render the moments of the most important day in your life in a unique fashion apparently is not something everyone hankers towards. It is surprising, considering how much money is bled into the most spectacular invitations, back presents, sets, jewellery, clothes…and yet wedding photography remains the unfortunate step-child.
Mumbai-based artist, curator and gallerist, Bose Krishnamachari traces the evolution of marriage in India to the extravaganza popularised by the maharajas of yore – and in those times, posed portraiture was the norm. As canvases evolved to bulky and expensive camera film and to the digital varieties of date, the traditional form of posed imagery still remains a part of the wedding legacy. It is only rarely – and more abroad than in India – that the photojournalistic style of wedding photography is popularised, where candid shots are taken and irreverent moments captured to add a sense of realism to the wedding album.
Matthieu Foss, photography curator and gallerist (Mumbai) feels that weddings have been restricted to a more conventional and conservative form of photography when creating the family wedding album. From the point of the photographer, Foss points out, they are using this form to merely make a living, not as a creative act. While it would be interesting for a photographer to capture moments from a poignant and radically important time in someone’s life, it appears that the subject’s lack of interest in something different would naturally stem the photographer’s creativity, making it a space that is a mere commercial stepping-stone to more absorbing pastures. And if the photographer were doing something different, it may well be in the space of satire and kitsch. Foss gives the example of French artist Jean-Christian Bourcart, whose first job as a wedding photographer led to him being ‘fascinated by those moments of joy in a crude or absurd reality,’ which later defined his other distinct photo projects.
It is not unnatural to take wedding photography a step further and explore moments in the nature of fashion photography: styled shoots inspired by high-fashion glossies; think a more involved and personal version of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City: The Movie snapped before her disastrous wedding in bridal fashion, documenting her pre-wedding preparations for an international fashion magazine. Many an aspiring socialite or fashionista would create a wedding album that looks like something out of the pages of a fashion magazine – to feel like the ultimate diva. Of course, this involves a good amount of post-processing of the images and possibly a touch up here and there!
At the other end of the glamour spectrum, with digital cameras and phone-cams, every other person considers himself/herself an amateur photographer, and impromptu and often unfortunately-candid shots of the wedding-in-process have been documented – much to the embarrassment of the couple-to-be. Loosely termed ‘contemporary wedding photography’, the professional version o f this irreverent clicking serves to capture the imagery of the wedding from the beginning to the end, without predetermined poses but with strong visual appeal.
While tradition is great when saying your vows or taking a turn around the fire, capturing eternal moments is an art and should be considered as such. With couples willing to give enough importance to the form, it may evolve into a universally appreciated aesthetic medium.