adhu Reddy from Hyderabad struggles to avoid tripping over her Mekhla Chador as she makes her way through the marriage hall, bulky camera in hand. This is an Assamese wedding, so Reddy's outfit is not out of place - except she's not a guest. She's there as a professional photographer.
The bride getting mehndi applied at home, sharing an emotional moment with her mother, staring pensively into the mirror, the groom struggling with his tie, laughing with his friends – Reddy's portfolio is full of these small behind-the-scenes moments. "This is what they have hired us for, in addition to the studio guy," says Reddy, adding, "being a woman, I get easy access to such moments, like say the room where the bride is getting ready." Priyanka Sachar from Delhi echoes this and says, "The challenge is to capture any situation artistically, without turning the subjects into bunnies caught in the glare of headlights."
Madhu Reddy and Priyanka Sachar are part of the growing tribe of women photographers who are sought after to cover weddings. Even if they work on other kinds of assignments, it is wedding photography that they find most challenging and satisfying creatively. The pressure may be on them to be constantly alert to emotions and situations, and nothing is in their control while shooting a wedding. However, it is not just all hard work. Sachar is happy doing this since "it involves travel, glimpses into diverse cultures and colourful traditions and also meeting a lot of new and interesting people." They also thrive on the admiration and awe that they generate among young women at these weddings.
Women photographers are more capable of bringing out the drama in a wedding ,particularly the parts of the wedding that the couple themselves misses.
When Mita and Gautam Brahma were looking for a photographer for their son's wedding, a small and intimate affair, they wanted someone who would do it "in an unusual way." Having seen Sachar's work at her photography shows, the family zeroed in on her without any hesitation. "The highlights of the wedding album she shot for us," says Mr. Brahma, "are things that a conventional male photographer would have never thought of capturing – say, the flowers in a child's hair, the bride's jewellery spread out on the bed, the peacock design on the sleeve of her blouse."
Madhu Reddy captures the small behind-the-scenes moments
Down in Bangalore, Pavithra and Viren Joseph had similar expectations from their wedding photographer. The one thing they were sure about was that they did not want traditional "stand and pose" photographs. "Women photographers are more capable of bringing out the drama in a wedding, particularly the parts of the wedding that the couple themselves misses," says Reddy. The Josephs agree, revisiting the dozens of candid images that Reddy captured at their wedding.
For both the Brahmas and the Josephs, what really helped was the time that these women professionals spent with the bride and groom before the day of the actual wedding understanding their plans and expectations. Here again, being a woman came in handy, as building that initial rapport with the family and putting the couple at ease came easily to them, "and this shows in the final output," as Mr. Brahma remarks. It also translated into the gift of the Mekhla Chador from the bride's mother to Madhu Reddy.