Click click click...smile please!
In her sixth entry Divya Nair discusses the embarrassing things conventional wedding photographers and videographers ask newly weds to do and wonders whether or not she is ready to let them invade her privacy. Illustration by Uttam Ghosh
Two weeks ago, Papa asked me if I had decided who the wedding photographer was going to be.
Although the choice was an obvious one, let me tell you why making the decision was difficult for me.
When I was young, I remember watching wedding videos and albums of random Keralite neighbours and cousins, because we thought it was a great way to while away time in the afternoons and also introduce each other to our extended families.
I never remembered the names of people who featured in those videos, but as a first-timer it was exciting to watch the bride’s sari change colours, the groom’s smiling face appear on her henna-dyed palms, and the backdrop change to locations in Paris and Switzerland while the bride and groom held hands.
Not to mention, there would be plenty of colourful flowers, butterflies and a lot of sky, grass and birds, enough to give old Bollywood filmmakers a complex.
As I grew up, I got bored of these gimmicks and began to hate the videographers and disapproved of what they did as part of their job... following you everywhere you went, from the dressing room to the food area, with a powerful flash-light that made you go blind in seconds.
Or click you in awkward poses -- with your mouth open, while you are eating or having a private conversation.
Despite the advancements in technology and photography techniques, old school photographers have found even more ways to be irritating.
They still ask you to tilt your neck, position your chin, and fold your hands and pose in a particularly awkward fashion -- the very thought of it makes me uncomfortable.
Forget weddings, even to get a passport-size photo clicked, I cannot sport a genuine smile when I'm concentrating so much on ‘the perfect pose’.
I remember how uncomfortable my cousin felt when the photographer asked her fiance to put both his arms around her so he could get a ‘romantic pose’ during their engagement ceremony.
Even though ours is a love-cum-arranged marriage, the thought of those awkward kisses and cosy poses worries me.
We still laugh at some of the funny things photographers ask newly wed couples to do.
After a cousin's wedding, the photographer travelled with the couple to Ooty! The bride was asked to run down a lonely road waving a dupatta in the air, all of which was captured in slow-motion, a la Pehla Nasha style.
The invasion of privacy is such that at two weddings I have attended, there were more photographers and videographers on the mandap jostling to get the best shot, than there were relatives and friends.
Worse still, in the last few years, relatives and friends armed with digital cameras, smartphones and handycams further add to the crowd on the stage, sneaking into all possible empty spaces near the wedding area, while people seated in the audience wonder why they were invited in the first place.
The reception is equally taxing. Before guests can even greet the bride or groom, the photographer orders everyone to take positions.
You stand like a statue with a set of people on stage, while the camera pans from left to right, all subjects smiling, not knowing where exactly to look.
My already-married friends had warned me: You will have to smile so much, at the end of the day, your jaws will ache.
So, last week, Papa and I visited one of the most famous photo studios in our neighbourhood. The photographer uncle who owns the shop had clicked pictures of me when I was three and my younger brother when he was just a few months old -- a framed copy of which adorns our living room today.
Standing there, browsing through the sample wedding photographs that featured some of my best friends from school and college, I wondered whether I was really ready for all this.
A few days later, I logged into my Facebook account and saw that one of my best friends, now a mother of a three-year-old daughter, had shared a photograph from her wedding with the caption: "Beautiful moments I treasure".
I immediately called her to tease her about uploading that photo now.
The 20-minute conversation about how life had changed for her post marriage ended with this advice: It may all look awkward and unnecessary now, but a few years later, when you are older and maybe put on some weight, have kids, you will want to look back at these moments and cherish them.
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