The first edition of SILK INSPIRE festival, that took place in Goa this October, hosted over 200 photographers from all over India and was a huge success. The SILK PHOTOS team is already at work preparing for SILK INSPIRE 2017, and you can expect some big surprises, but let us start at the beginning.
Organising a wedding photography festival is no less hectic than organising a real wedding, Sephi Bergerson realised this fall as the architect of SILK INSPIRE, India’s first ever wedding photography festival. It was stressful but the end result was as exhilarating, and of course there were many many photographs to commemorate the occasion.
The festival also saw participation from internationally-renowned photographers from outside India, including from UK, France, Spain, Canada and Dubai. These photographers were the mentors and panelists during the festival and also formed the high-powered jury for SILK AWARDS 2016, that recognised the documentary wedding work of five Indian wedding photographers.
The four-day long affair included workshops and talks, and also saw the announcement of the first SILK awards winners.
Sephi, who is the brain behind the event, came to India from Israel in 2002. He moved to Goa after spending a decade living in Delhi working as a photojournalist and also occasionally shooting weddings. The body of work he produced around Indian weddings was later developed into a book, “Behind The Indian Veil – A Journey Through Weddings in India”, which captures the variety and vibrancy of Indian weddings, documented over seven years.
“Weddings are not just about a couple getting married,” according to Sephi, “It is a bigger social event, it is a window into society.” Indian weddings reflect the rich diversity of the country and each one is unique in its own way.
Sephi has seen the Indian wedding photography scene explode, having observed it at closely over the past decade, with many more young people taking up photography not just as a hobby but a profession. This trend is a reflection of a changing mindset in Indian society, especially among the educated urban population, about what are acceptable career options. “Today there are a large number of people who want to find more creative ways of making a living, other than being an accountant or engineer,” Sephi noted.
Shooting weddings is seen as a stepping-stone into the world of photography. It is relatively lucrative and promises a steady income. After all, there are always going to be weddings, whether there is a recession or a boom.
“If u r a photographer and not here in Goa for #silkinspire2016 , u r doing something wrong. Drastically wrong :)” – Puneet Desai
Wow !!! What incredible speakers. I am a wedding photographer for 20 years!!! Covered more than 1200 weddings so far !!! Won many awards, but after listening to these great awesome speakers one thing I came know that …….’I KNOW NOTHING ‘!!! Thank you SILK , Sephi, Shefi !!!” – Vivek Sequeira
“Still in daze thinking about what shook us out of our little comfort zone we had built all these years! These 4 days were nothing less than a series of miracles!” – Bhagvati Adithya
In this age of social media and instant photography, clients are also more aware of what they want. One thing the veteran photographer has realised is that clients do not want just a random assortment of photos but a story about their world and their special day. This was the reason why unlike other international wedding photography competitions, SILK AWARDS were focused on wedding series rather than individual photographs.
Entries were to consist of a series of 8-12 images shot by an individual photographer. SILK AWARDS 2016 was only open to Indian photographers, but there is talk of opening it up to international participants in coming years. This year, more than 300 entries came from over India, vying for five prizes, to be decided by a jury consisting of the internationally-acclaimed wedding photographers and panelists of SILK INSPIRE festival. Sephi was also on the jury.
“I gave less importance to technicalities like lighting, compositions because these are things that can be improved,” Sephi said about selecting winning entries, “what we were looking for is the ability to recognise a story and to tell it,” he said. “We wanted to see a photographer with a vision.”
They found that vision in Chenthil Mohan, 36, who submitted a series on a Kashmiri Muslim wedding that took place in Bangalore last year. “Not many people have seen an interesting Muslim wedding,” he said in an interview,” it is also different from shooting other weddings since there is less of visual imagery.” It was an unusual choice for a wedding series entry, but Chenthil took the chance. We will be talking to Chenthil about his choice and how the winning series came about next week.
As the first place winner, Chenthil received an award of 35,000 rupees in cash, and an additional 35,000 as credit for post-production by Oodio, the festival print and design partner. The other winners were Pon Prabakaran (2nd prize), Raj Lalwani (3rd prize), Soumak Mukhopadhyay (4th prize) and Abhimanyu Sharma (5th prize). Apart from the monetary award the top three photographers, are invited to be a part of a mentorship program at SILK PHOTOS, the commercial wedding photography agency.
The festival will now be an annual event, and the SILK INSPIRE team is already gearing up for SILK 2017. “We want to make SILK INSPIRE the biggest wedding photography festival in Asia,” Sephi said.
Watch out for our interview with SILK AWARDS first prize winner Chenthil Mohan next week. Stay tuned for more exciting updates from the world of wedding photography and SILK INSPIRE 2017.
“Those four days were magical and yesterday was one of the best days of my life. Thank you for making me feel so special.” – Rimi Sen
More pictures from SILK INSPIRE 2016 are posted on the Facebook group page