When my parents got married, there was no ‘candid’ photography, there was no ‘couple shoot’ and I’m pretty sure they don’t know what any of those terms really mean. My mother’s mehendi and haldi ceremony was not documented, nor was there a cinematic video created around my parent’s big day. When they attend the weddings of my generation, they are usually stunned at the attending team of photographers. All they had, was a photographer, his assistant and
a simple, straightforward documentation of their wedding. While their wedding album is a passable documentation of their day, I remember one image, shot right after my father had whispered something into my mother’s ear, causing them both to break out into big smiles of happiness. This makes me wonder, are these photo shoots truly representative of two people’s love or is it just a set of pictures to put on Facebook? More often than not, couple shoots ape a Bollywoodesque, fantastical representation as opposed to more ‘real’, natural photographs.
The Couple Shoot – Do We Really Have To Do It?
When Priyanka Jayaram and Varun Mohan got married last November, they knew that they wanted a no-pressure shoot. “After the chaos that follows a Tamilian wedding, those few hours away from everything were precious. And since our shoot was after the wedding ceremony, there weren’t as many pressing things to attend to.” Couple shoots can be a fantastic way for the couple of an arranged union to get to know each other better.
Raj Lalwani walked through the bylanes of Bandra with them, essentially being in their space while allowing them the space to be themselves. “The biggest challenge, for me is to try and discover who those two people really are, and letting their individuality make the photos, rather than me as a photographer using my visual bag of tricks. With Priyanka and Varun, I was the third wheel. Sometimes a distant observer, at other times, a goofball participant. This organic approach doesn’t come easy every time, but honesty, comfort and trust help me along the path.”
Sephi Bergerson believes that it is the best way for a photographer to explore his creativity. “Weddings are when we document what is happening. A couple shoot, especially one after the actual ceremony is over, presents a chance to do something different. When I shoot a couple, I try to give them a good, fun time out where my little interventions in their interactions create a mix of a natural, and somewhat posed images.”
Amar Ramesh echoes the sentiment, “I want to be better today than I was yesterday, and even better tomorrow than I was today. I want to be challenged. And I always make sure that the shots are complicated but not the setup itself. While they may seem elaborate, they’re usually the couple, an assistant and me.”
An Opportunity To Be Creative
Shooting a couple in that intense period around the wedding is magical for Amar. “They’re in a different space. They’re in love, everything is magical and a shoot is a nice way to preserve this time.” Sephi says, “Love changes. Time changes a relationship and it’s always nice to remember the newness of a marriage. My wife and I never had a shoot like that, we never thought about it. But, it would have been beautiful.”
On the flip side, there are couples who simply don’t see the point of a shoot. “We aren’t comfortable being in front of the camera, let alone posing for it. A planned photoshoot just didn’t seem to represent our happiness or who we are. It feels more put on for us.” say Zinnia Ray Chaudhari and Sharad Raghavan who got married in April.
Another bride to be, Monali Dey, who is to marry her fiancé later this year adds; “Purab and I have been together for so long that we have a ton of pictures of us together. Unless we are planning to get images for save the dates or something like that, I don’t think we want a couple shoot.”
Can photographs made in a controlled setting represent the love and emotion shared between two people, or is it merely herd mentality – everyone’s doing it so why not? What I realised is that at the end of the day, it all comes down to what the newlyweds want to remember their special day by, and what the photographer can bring out in them. Be it a fantastical representation of their story or a more natural setting, is up to the creativity of the person behind the lens.
For Zinnia and Sharad, Monali and Purab, all the photos from their wedding day spark a lot of joy. For Malvika and Rohit, Priyanka and Varun, a fun set of images apart from their ceremony is what they cherish. For my parents, it is that one frame where my mom’s blushing and my dad is looking on. It is a photograph filled with a special kind of happiness.
And what about you? A couple shoot can be a wonderful opportunity to produce great emotional images, fun, happy and memorable, or it can easily be just another chore and a complete head ache. Share your experiences, expectations and thought with us. We would love to hear from you in the comments below.