Indian weddings are an elaborate affair and an integral part of them are the wedding photos. With changing trends though, wedding photos are no more restricted to the bride and groom awkwardly posing with relatives, half of whose names you won’t remember later.
In times when your popularity is defined by the likes and comments on your social media posts, couples are increasingly opting for fancy photo shoots with the aim of going ‘viral’ on social media. Take the recent example of a Kerala-based couple, Abijith PK and Nayana, whose pre-wedding shoot caught the fancy of netizens after a news website posted a video of their preparations and reason behind opting for a photo shoot, that was done in a speciallycreated pond in the photographer’s backyard, with makeshift sprinklers giving the feel of the rain.
The photoshoot costed the couple a whopping Rs 1 lakh and eight hours of the day! Now, we know what you must be thinking- ‘Why so much effort?’ or ‘That’s a lot of money just for a photoshoot!’- but hey, the couple wanted something different compared to other wedding shoots so that their photos could go viral!
This is also a reason behind many to-be couples shunning traditional wedding photos in favour of exotic photoshoots. Elaborate indoor and outdoor shoots in exotic setups with fancy outfits are no more things you would see in a Bollywood wedding. These are things couples are largely investing in, at times even more than the amount for the actual wedding.
Ayan Mukherjee, a wedding photographer in business since the last five years, agrees to the splurging and says that while millennials believe in minimalistic weddings, there is absolutely no compromise when it comes to photography. “My wedding photoshoot package starts from ₹1 lakh which is a fair amount considering it includes photos from both the sides, along with a cinematic video and photo album. But there are couples who want a lavish photoshoot and that shoots up the price to ₹2 to 3 lakh. This includes the cost of stay, the team payment, equipment cost and most importantly, the location that’s been chosen for the shoot,” explains Ayan. He also says that the cost of the shoot varies depending on the variables and at times can also go up to ₹12 to 15 lakhs depending on the couples’ demands and preferences. “The location plays a major role here. In a city like Kolkata, such expensive packages are less chosen, but in Delhi and Mumbai this has become the norm,” adds Ayan.
Besides wanting to look their best in the photos, today it’s all about showing off and, unofficially, competing for the best wedding photo online, according to some photographers. Navdeep Soni, a Pune-based wedding photographer who has been in the industry for more than 10 years, has seen the shift in the wedding trends. According to him, wedding photography was more about capturing feelings of the couple and it used to be more about their story earlier. “But now it just about lavish photos,” he says adding, “Ten years ago when I started shooting for weddings, the couples wanted more romantic pictures or photos that showed their strong bond. Now, it’s more about showing off. Couples want pictures like those they see on Pinterest and Instagram.”
Striving for beauty and lavishness has led many a couples to do photo shoots at exclusive destinations. Twenty-seven-year-old Arya Sharma who is tying the knot in December this year, says she has already started planning for her wedding photoshoot. Arya says, “Since the time my wedding date has been locked, I have spent most of my time on Instagram looking at wedding pictures and am conceptualising my prewedding shoot too. A lot of couples generally head to beaches and mountains for their prewedding shoots, but I am doing it in a desert. I am going to Jaisalmer for my pre-wedding shoot.” Arya is spending around ₹3.5 to 4 lakh on the shoot and says it’s because she has also invested in different outfits and a makeup artist. Arya adds, “People only get married once and its totally worth spending this much money. Most importantly, I want people to see my picture and want a similar one for their wedding done, just the way I feel when I see beautiful wedding pictures on social media. Yes, ₹3-4 lakh for a photo shoot is quite a big amount, and since I am investing this much, I also want the pic to go viral and give me reactions online. Maybe a wedding photography handle will also feature my wedding pictures,” says Arya.
It’s true that photos help preserve memories for a lifetime, much more than the wedding decorations and gifts, making them very dear to couples. So why worry about the money when you are getting memorable moments captured on your special day? Twenty-four-year-old Shweta Kumari, a to-be bride, firmly believes in this. She feels memories shouldn’t be weighed in terms of money because nothing is better than capturing the right moment and relishing it forever. Shweta is getting married in January and her prewedding shoot is planned amidst the picturesque mountains and waterfalls of Lonavala. Her budget for her wedding photoshoot is more than ₹1 lakh. “When it comes to weddings, parents take most of the decisions, even trying to get a photographer within a small budget. During their time, such things didn’t exist and so they don’t understand the importance of these photo shots. So, I made sure that the photography of my wedding had to happen according to me. For me, the photoshoot is not about money but about me and my fiancé. I believe the photos should look lavish to reflect a first-class bonding and marriage,” says Shweta.
According to Ayan, only two kinds of content goes viral on the internet- either it’s so good that people share and appreciate it, or it’s so bad that people share it to criticise. “Going viral mostly depends on the content and luck. A very good picture according to me cannot be a good picture according to someone else. So, going viral doesn’t define the worth of your picture. I feel you should be satisfied by the output and so should be the client. That’s my focus when I do shoots,” says Ayan.