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Hindu Wedding Photography & Being a South Asian Wedding Photographer
There’s nothing more exciting than the colors, the chanting, the wild dancing, and the occasional horse, camel, or elephant that comes with a Hindu wedding. Photographing these ceremonies requires experience, energy, and a whole lot of memory cards. In fact, Hindu wedding photography—and all photography for South Asian weddings—is often more expensive due to not only morning-til-night hours, but the need for so many more photos and moments caught. Everywhere you turn during an Indian wedding, there’s something happening that needs to be photographed.
I love photographing adventure elopements, campground weddings, luxury celebrations, and more–and South Asian wedding photography is definitely on that list! The food, the smells, the action–nothing quite matches it. As a colorful, vibrant wedding photographer, how could I NOT love them?!
As a Hindu wedding photographer, I work for multiple days capturing the various celebrations and traditions, which range from mehndi ceremonies to baraats and rice throwing. With Hindu wedding photography, because of the many traditions and constant action at Indian weddings, Indian wedding photographers always work with other photographers—sometimes 2 or even 3. It’s a ton of work, but it’s darn fun! Editing it takes months, however.
I Photographed My First Indian Wedding in India!
I photographed my first Indian wedding in 2012 (that’s almost a decade ago…can you believe that?!) in Rajasthan, India. Since then, I’ve been a creative wedding photographer and South Asian wedding photographer everywhere from Arizona to Chicago, and New York to the Dominican Republic. In fact, I’ve been a Hindu wedding photographer for longer than I’ve been a Western wedding photographer! Most of the time, my Hindu weddings are in NYC, New Jersey, or the Bay Area—but I’ve photographed them all over while working with friends, colleagues, and assistants of mine.
Some Hindu weddings last 5 days or more, and with 2 or 3 photographers shooting up to 16 hours a day…well, you can imagine the thousands (sometimes over 15,000) shots there are to go through. Most people only attend the sangeet and wedding day, but there are so many smaller ceremonies involving warding away evil spirits, saying goodbye to the old home, cracking coconuts for blessings, and much more.
This is what everyone thinks Indian and Hindu weddings are like from photos:
But in reality, this photo encapsulates MUCH more of what it’s like:
This is no one-person, let’s-take-a-leisurely-hike-and-say-vows day of wedding photography. I love that too, but this is a WHOLE different ball game.
Ceremony day, there’s lighting under the mandap, sweets exchanged, processionals, calling upon the gods, incense burning, blessings, and so much more. As a Hindu wedding photographer, you know that the most important shot is often something Western cultures may not be familiar with, such as fabric tying or close-ups of a foot on different objects.
As is traditional in Indian weddings, family portraits and friend portraits are practically nonstop. If a Hindu wedding is 3 days long, there will likely be a need for family portraits every day. Everyone is wearing different sarees, suits, kurtas, and lehengas every day, and thus the memory space goes quickly.
The baraat, the couples’ portraits, and the dancing are my favorite parts of any South Asian or Hindu wedding. As a creative photojournalist, my Hindu wedding photography is candid, unique, emotional, and darn fun. Indian wedding photography has a long history of being more posed and expected, but because I’m a creative wedding photographer with years of experience, I have to put my own twist on wedding photography (naturally!).
I have even done adventure sessions and adventure engagements with my Indian couples, which, by the way, are quite beautiful. One client told me it was as if she was living in a Bollywood movie, having photos taken while she was standing in a pond in the middle of the woods.
One of my favorite Hindu wedding moments (and moments for many Indian weddings in general) is to photograph is the wild, crazy moments that aren’t as predictable. Getting IN the ocean, stealing the groom’s shoe, releasing smoke bombs during the baraat, surprise performances…being a Hindu wedding photographer is pretty darn awesome. With up to 600 or 700 guests, you’ve got to be prepared for anything.
It’s traditional for the bride to wear red on her wedding day, but in 2021 and here in America, there are fewer rules to follow. Hindu wedding photography is deeply rooted in tradition, but today’s incredible luxury weddings are all about blending tradition and unique interests of the couple’s. Think baseball teams hidden in the bride’s henna, arcade games for guests to play, Dippin’ Dots given out DURING ceremonies, and more.
There are also combinations of weddings: Indian fusion weddings, Sikh-Hindu weddings, and more. I have been photographing more and more fusion Indian weddings which is awesome–mostly to see how family members react!
This is one of the BEST expressions. Feel free to message me if you’re curious as to why he’s making that expression. Hint: It’s for a good reason that I can’t say here.
Throughout COVID I’ve been lucky enough to photograph a bunch of intimate weddings, adventure sessions, outdoor engagements, and of course elopements—but I have truly missed Indian wedding photography. As a Hindu wedding photographer, I cannot wait for this pandemic to be over so we can go back to the blaring music, frenetic dancing, laughter, incredible food, rituals, and celebrations of love all around.
I just can’t wait!