By | Abhijit Bhaduri | Founder, Abhijit Bhaduri & Associate
I have never been to a photography conference. I am at the PEP Conference being held from16-19 March 2018 at Nehru Center, Worli, Mumbai. I am slightly intimidated at the thought of being among 1500 photographers who have travelled from 80 cities across 9 countries.
Joshua Karthik and his brother Joseph Radhik are the organizers. They look really calm. I get introduced to Erika and Lanny Mann just as Erika is going up on stage to speak. She is the number one wedding photographer in the world. What? Really… and she is here?
A wedding photographer’s life
Let’s face it. Being a wedding photographer is tough. There is the ceremony and the rituals bit. Then there are a truckload of relatives and chaos (at least in Indian weddings). There are heartbreaks and fights. Relationship built over a life time get strained. New ones are formed that get stronger over the years.
The Monsoon Wedding captures it all, remember that film?
Does the world’s number one photographer get bored? Erika must have read my mind. She opens her talk by saying that, “weddings are boring…” and then goes on to qualify it. “That happens if you have a format in mind and every wedding has to fit into that format. Rituals are the scripted part. The real wedding takes place between the scripted parts.”
“Weddings are boring…”
Photographs must tell stories
Photographs are all about telling stories. That is just what makes Erika’s photos so unique. She speaks of a photo that shows a bride sitting on her bed wearing her bridal gown and reading a letter that her mother wrote to her. The letter was written by the bride’s mother three years back just before she lost the battle to cancer.
Allow the magic to happen
Stories are told when the photographer captures that moment. But what if the moment is lost? That’s what it means to be human. True magic happens when it becomes normal for us to fail. Remember what she said about looking out to capture the stories that come through between the scripted parts…
“The best moments are in transitions. Look for the moments between the moments. When you see that moment, don’t just watch it photograph it.”
Shoot a lot – then cull out the best
“In one day we shoot a LOT with 20,000-35000 photos in a day. That helps us to tell multiple stories in one frame. Each frame is an improvement over the previous. We shoot through the moment and deliver the peak of the moment. I will cull out 4000 photos from the 20,000 in 6-10 minutes. To do this you have to be emotionally uninvolved. Because during the wedding you are fully involved. And then I cull out 1000 images from the 4000. That takes longer.”
It is hard for me to say what impressed me most – the beautiful stories told in the photographs or the lens with which she views work. It must be both. After all that is what makes her click.