How to find the Best Wedding Photographer in India?

With every passing year, the magnificence of Indian wedding continues to grow and the rapid emergence of global Indians has entirely changed the way weddings are being organised in India. Photography is no exception. While a decade back the wedding photography was limited to capturing memories, in recent times many highly educated, well-travelled professionals have jumped the bandwagon with each one of them offering their own style of photography. Few years ago, the precious thing which was restricted only to the elites, is available widely to everyone. Looking at the moolah involved, many of the fashion photographers too, who detested wedding coverage earlier are ready to do the job at a right price.

So, if you're planning to hire a professional for the wedding coverage, the first thing you'll need is commitment. Most of my clients keep photography on high-priority and don't mind going an extra mile for the unforgettable memories. Photography is a very comprehensive process and the fairytale photos need reciprocity and commitment from both sides.

Before we discuss the other elements, it is important to understand what makes a good photo? Many things. The subject, posture, ambience, venue, colours, lighting, outfits, background, equipment, timing and to top it all the creativity and technical knowhow of the photographer. Since many of these things are controllable, a good photographer will always try to understand your expectations and suggest changes (if required) to deliver the optimal result.

Now, let's look at some of the questions I encounter frequently, which may be helpful to you too.

Who is the right photographer for me?

Nobody can answer this but you. Every photographer has some unique style to capture, take time to go through their work, ask questions, do comparisons, do a reference check and then commit. Most of them have a web site and Facebook Page which will help you evaluate the work. Just make sure that you don't take too long as they have multiple queries in peak season and you may lose the opportunity of your favourite photographer working for you.

What is Candid Photography? How is it different? What are the other styles of photography? What is contemporary Wedding Photography?

Candid Photography

Taking photos of people when they have no idea what the photographer is doing it is called Candid Photography. The beauty of this kind of photography is being able to catch someone in the act. You'd generally see this kind of photo in the magazines.

Since most people get conscious on camera, Candid Photography gives them comfort of not posing while the photographer does the job. A Candid Photographer is always on hunt to capture moments which make your wedding special.

Stage Photography

Typical photographs of the bride and groom surrounded with friends/relatives on stage. Though, most of my clients want candid clicks, this traditional style can't be ignored.

Fine Art or Contemporary Photography

A Contemporary or Fine Art Photographer tries to capture unique things which make your wedding exceptional. Most of them focus on details and would expect their creative space.

Can't just one photographer do everything? It's too much to ask for. Since multiple activities take place simultaneously, it's better to have dedicated photographer to cover each activity.

What camera should my photographer be using? Which is the best camera for wedding photography?

Generally the professionals prefer a full frame Nikon or Canon Camera, so most likely they would be using Nikon D800, Nikon D700, Canon 5D Mark III or 5D Mark II. These are some of the best cameras for wedding photography. Sony does have some great cameras like Alpha 77. More than the camera what matters is the man behind it. A creative photographer can produce outstanding results with a modest camera.

What is a RAW file? Should I get a RAW photo or a JPEG?

The photographers generally click RAW photos which gives them higher flexibility to retouch them later. Your computer may not be able to open a RAW file which needs specialised software. To keep things simple, ask him to give you JPEG photos.

What is studio set up? What should it contain?

To produce high quality image, the photographers carry lighting equipment which is called studio set up. Generally it's a pair of pedestal lights with soft boxes or umbrellas. Based on the requirement, the photographers also carry reflector, diffuser, additional lights and other accessories.

Why should I hire a photographer who's many times expensive than the studio?

Mostly studios in India are old fashioned, run by someone who didn't have a better career option. They play on volumes and quality is rarely the priority. They cover multiple events in day through the staff who are creatively challenged and low to moderately skilled. Most of them offer all-in-one package which includes video, album, LED display etc.

A professional photographer hardly covers 4-6 events in a month. The quality of work is the highest priority for him because that gets him the next job. He takes time to understand your taste and requirement and the most important thing: You'll have better chemistry with him. Many of these photographers have partnered with Cinematographers and they will be happy to take the responsibility of both photos and videos. The bottom line is: You get what you pay for.

My friend has a DSLR and he clicks good pictures, should I ask him to cover my wedding?

If you want to take a chance, go ahead! However, keep in mind that a professional photographer is committed to deliver result and he has years of experience doing it. He deeply understands the rituals and customs, knows how to manage the crowd, and to work in chaotic environment for long hours. Your friend may just get bogged down with so many challenges.

The best approach is to hire a professional and in addition let your friend click photos. If you like some of your friends photos, ask the photographer to accommodate them in to your album. Most of them will be glad to do that.

Coffee Table Book or Album?

The main difference between the Coffee-Table book and the Flushmount album is the way they are printed and the material used to create them, but both serve the purpose of displaying the collection of photos.

Most of my clients prefer Coffee Table Books because it's light-weight and easy to carry. You have endless paper options and the cover can be personalised to any extent. Canvera, Sapphire and Kodak Collections are popular album makers in India.

The premium albums can be ordered from Europe or USA. Some of the popular companies are: Photo Granth, Graphistudio, Blurb etc.

When should I expect the album to be ready?

It depends. After you give the final pictures, give your photographer 45-90 days to deliver the album. For example: Canvera takes 20 days to deliver after the final design is submitted. Designing an album is a critical and time taking process, so if you push him too hard, expect less time spent on designing which will reflect on quality of the album.

Who is the best Wedding Photographer in India?

Photography being a creative field, it is unfair to compare the work of one person with others. India is yet to have a credible rating agency, though some magazines do rank photographers based on various parameters.

The best way forward is to do a comprehensive search. You may also take help from the friend who got married recently in case you like their wedding photos.

Price and Inclusions

Some photographers give a complimentary album with a minimum commitment while others charge you separately for the album.

A quality photographer would charge between 500 to 2000 USD per day. If it's an out-station assignment, then he would charge extra for accommodation and travel.

Terms of Payment

It varies. Some photographers charge 100 per cent advance while some would expect 50 per cent in advance and 50 per cent immediately after the work is done. The booking amount is generally non-refundable, but in case of change of date, most of them would accommodate your request without any extra charge.

Photography Agreement

A professional photographer would always insist for agreement which makes things clear for both parties. You should be happy to sign it since this tells you clearly what to expect. If you are uncomfortable with any term, please feel free to discuss that with your photographer.

When should I book a photographer?

The sooner the better. If you like the work and know who he is, don't waste time. I have seen many people dilly dallying and finally losing the opportunity and ending up signing someone who they were not excited about.

How many photos should I expect in a wedding?

Generally a good wedding coverage with pre and post events has 300-500 final photos. To produce this number a photographer generally clicks 1500-5000 photos.

You must discuss this with photographer before signing up.

Pre-wedding Lifestyle Shoot

A pre-wedding lifestyle shoot not only adds variety to the album but also helps in story-telling. The photos reflect altogether different mood and tone and generally prove to be best items to be framed for living room decoration.

With assistance from your photographer, you may decide a place which can be your home, a shopping mall, a monument or the places you frequently visit. It's a good idea to carry a few extra garments to add spark to the Coffee Table Book. If you can, go for the shoot right after the sun rise or just before the sunset which is called golden hour for photography.

Most photographers consider it a half day shoot which lasts for 3-4 hours. If you want a very detailed work, you may ask for a Make Up Artist, which costs extra. This session costs between 400 to 800 USD i.e 20000 to 40000 rupees.

I'm confused, what should I do?

Relax! It's not as daunting as it appears. Give yourself enough time and just go with the flow. Trust me, you'll find it worthwhile every time you flip the pages of your Wedding Album. You can't leave anything up to chances because in India, wedding happens only once in a lifetime.

Copyright: Vivek Singh 2013. All rights reserved. The views of the author in this blog is personal.

Vivek Singh is a Contemporary Wedding Photographer based in New Delhi, India. He can be reached at viveksingh@watergroup.co.in

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