How we made "When Two Worlds Collide" - our IPA 2016 winning wedding series

Photograph one: The Lift

  Aesha & Alon at The Leela, Udaipur

Aesha & Alon at The Leela, Udaipur

The preparation for the picture

We'd made a note of the location earlier in the evening when we had taken a couple of shots of Aesha & Alon on and around the lake. We'd spoken to the staff of the Leela, and were told that the stage would be lit up with small lamps once the musicians started performing later at night.

However, to make the shot, we had to pull Aesha & Alon out from the festivities at the precise moment when the musicians would take a break and we would get about 5 minutes to make our shot.

Aesha & Alon were the perfect couple any photographer dreams of - they were always up for giving us time whenever we requested it. We quickly took them to the location, and we knew that we wanted a dynamic pose, but didn't want to do a twirl - we wanted something different.

The philosophy

It was then that it struck us - this was the first function of a dream wedding that had been planned for a long time. As a bride, Aesha must feel on top of the world. 'Can you lift her up?' we asked Alon. 'Sure', he said and did what we asked. We tried the lift in a couple of ways, and what you see here was the best, most aesthetic way we captured it.

Technical & compositional details

The picture looks epic because we shot wide (16mm), including the entire background and the lamps spread across the stage. Also, there are multiple lines that lead from the edge of the frame to the couple who is bang in the middle, which ensure that your eyes are always drawn to them. The symmetry in the picture is the cherry on top.

Closing thoughts

Weddings are larger than life. So along with the usual portraits, we love to make couple shots with wider angles, placing the couples in situations to give their story a larger context.

When we made this image, we knew we had something special, and decided that we would do our best to give Aesha & Alon a special series of images across all their functions. We believe this is where "When Two Worlds Collide" began.

We always make pictures with the intent of them being a lasting memory for the couple, pictures which will live across generations. While it feels great winning an award for our pictures, it is always an outcome, never an input. A wedding photographer should always stay true and honest to the spirit of the wedding, and the pictures will speak for themselves.

Coming back to the AeshAlon wedding, the night ended on an amazing note. We were prepared for the next day, which was going to be an amazing one with a very unique party, more from which to come soon!

Photograph two: The Dance

  Aesha & Alon during the guests welcome at the Ananta Udaipur

Aesha & Alon during the guests welcome at the Ananta Udaipur

The preparation for the picture

This picture was one which we made in a split second, capturing the moment exactly as it unfolded before us. The preparation for pictures like this is the hours and hours of practice a photographer puts in, such that when the moment arrives, he/she is ready to catch it in a split second.

Thanks to my street photography (visit my street work here), a genre in which a moment arrives and is gone in a flash of a second, I have a high awareness of anticipating a special moment and getting it in frame exactly the way I want it. This is exactly what happened here.

The guests arriving at the Ananta Udaipur were being welcomed with a traditional Rajasthani dance, which included one of the guys dancing with the horse seen here. The entire wedding party loved to dance, so they were joining in with the folk dancers whenever guests arrived. In one such moment of dancing, Alon took the horse from one of the Rajasthani dancers, and everyone formed a circle around the couple.

The philosophy

The philosophy in this case, is therefore about always being prepared and having such a high level of comfort with your camera, that it becomes an extension of yourself. You can have the most advanced camera in the world but if you can't use it well, what's the point?

We are at a point today where we can operate our Canon 5D/6Ds or Fujifilms blindfolded. We are THAT comfortable with our cameras.

Technical & compositional details

The picture too, is shot wide (16mm) and with a high depth of field because we wanted to include the context of what is happening. The people around Aesha & Alon and their expressions add immensely to the picture - you can see the look of surprised joy on everyone's faces. When you look at the picture, your eyes first go to Alon, then to Aesha (as Alon's gaze and the horse leads you to look at her), and back to Alon as you slowly take in the people around the frame. This keeps you looking at the picture for longer.

Closing thoughts

Since this was a candid picture and not a posed one, we only discovered the true strength of the frame while editing. While we knew we had the moment, we weren't aware of how powerfully it translated into our composition in camera until we saw it on screen.

Try to avoid looking at the back of your camera (also referred to as chimping) when you've taken a picture. We've seen photographers miss moments because of this. If your camera settings are fine, then focus on what is happening in front of you, and leave the review for the editing process.

Photograph three: The Kiss

 Aesha & Alon at their Mad Hatters Party

Aesha & Alon at their Mad Hatters Party

The preparation for the picture

After the guests welcome, everyone went back to their rooms at The Ananta to rest and get ready for the Mad Hatters Party. The theme turned out to be one of the most unique ones we've ever seen! The party took place poolside, which Manisha & her team at Floral Stems had turned into the amazing world of 'Alice in Wonderland'. It was a riot of colours and fun as everyone brought their A-Game to the theme. There was an amazing array of some really mad hats there!

As with all parties, it was just a matter of time before everyone let loose and began to dance. We knew that people would inevitably start getting into the pool, and so we had to make our shot before that.

The philosophy

The one thing we love most about destination weddings is that every single person at the wedding means something special to the couple. The family & friends at a destination wedding are usually extremely emotionally involved in the wedding. In moments of celebration like this party was, you could clearly see the joy on their faces. We wanted to capture this feeling of collective joy. So it was clear we had to make a photograph with a lot of people in it, celebrating this union of two souls.

Technical & compositional details

To get the context of the celebration included in the portrait of the couple, we quickly rounded up people we could find, with the bar in the background and the couple closest to the camera. We shot this one with a narrow depth of field compared to the second photograph, but just enough so that you can make out the people in the background.

We made sure everyone had a drink in their hands and asked them to raise a cheer for the couple. The extended hands become lines that guide your eye to look at Aesha & Alon, embraced in a beautiful kiss, composed at the right of the frame keeping in mind the rule of thirds.

Closing thoughts

A good photographer aiming to tell a wedding story from close quarters truly needs to become a part of the event. Without this, it is impossible to get pictures with emotional content. This emotion could be happiness, sadness or celebration, as in this case.

When a good photographer spiritually taps into the energy of a wedding, he/she is able to express that feeling into a picture. Along with technical expertise, a photographer needs a great sense of empathy to be able to do this.

Photograph four: The Rain of Flowers

The preparation for the picture

Everyone at the wedding was dressed beautifully in an off-white & beige/yellow colour scheme for the Phoolon ki Holi function. The yellow marigold petals were really going to stand out as a result. We had asked the bride & groom to let us know exactly when the flower shower would start. There was an element of planning involved, so that everyone would start throwing the petals at the same time. I shifted to my wide angle lens and Ekta stayed on her favourite 50mm to get an alternate angle.

The philosophy

For every wedding, Ekta and I always talk to the couple to understand each of their functions in detail. When Aesha & Alon told us about the concept of the 'phoolon ki holi', we knew it was going to be great from a photography perspective.

As with the picture at the Mad Hatters Party, we wanted this picture to have a collective feel while also giving the flowers the importance they deserved. In this case, the flowers were going to be the hero of the frame.

Technical & compositional details

I took an angle such that I was shooting with my camera pointed up. I knew the yellow marigold petals would come out best when framed against the blue sky. Since Aesha & Alon were surrounded by people, the angle also helped me make them stand out from the crowd. As mentioned earlier, I shot this really wide (16mm). I kept Aesha & Alon in the centre of the frame and fired a burst when the flower petals started raining down on us.

Closing thoughts

A little bit of planning goes a long way into making a memorable picture. But this is only possible when your photographer knows the details of various wedding events. As a couple, giving the photographer your time and taking the effort to brief us in detail is always worth it.

Ekta and I naturally gravitate towards couples that right from the beginning, want to have a deeper conversation about their wedding story and tell us about their events. It shows us that they really value what we bring to the table. And when we find couples like this, we go beyond giving them our best. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves with what we are able to create for them!

Another important aspect for a wedding photographer is being physically fit. At times you have to put your body into stressful positions to get the shot you want, such as this photograph. Your body needs to be able to take this. Indian weddings while being a lot of fun, are possibly among the longest weddings we've shot. Imagine being part of them one after another during the wedding season, and your body not being able to keep up.

Photograph five: The Chair Dance

 Aesha & Alon being hoisted on chairs during the  Hora -  The traditional Jewish dance at their reception

Aesha & Alon being hoisted on chairs during the Hora - The traditional Jewish dance at their reception

The preparation for the picture

Similar to the phoolon ki holi function, Ekta and I knew the schedule for Aesha & Alon's reception, and were prepared for the Hora (the Jewish chair dance). Again, I chose to shoot wide while Ekta got an alternate angle with her favourite 50mm.

The philosophy

While the other functions were a fusion of both cultures, this was one where the entire reception was completely American.

We wanted to preserve the Western look and feel of the reception. By this time, we had taken care to ensure that along with portraits of the couple, we were also getting pictures of collective happiness across the various functions. This one was no different.

Technical & compositional details

This one was tricky because I had to get a wide angle photo with clear differentiation of subjects (while including as many people as possible in the frame), ensure that the photo looks clean (from the point of view of composition, no tilted horizon), capture happy expressions on Aesha & Alon's faces, all in lighting situations that weren't exactly ideal, since the reception was being held outdoors.

Since the couple were going to be hoisted up, I shot with my camera at eye level. A high depth of field with a high shutter speed demanded a high ISO, and my 5D Mark III is a powerhorse in that aspect - for example, this picture was shot at ISO 3200.

Closing thoughts

Even with a wedding celebration drawing to an end, a photographer must always be as excited for the last shot they would take in the wedding as they would be for the first. Closing functions of weddings are an interesting mix of emotions, and each culture has unique ways of celebrating the bride & grooms union, inviting the bride into the family & so on. 

We would like to summarise our thoughts on this series by saying that as photographers, we have the ultimate responsibility of capturing a memory in its purest form in an image. Unlike wedding films which need to be viewed as a whole, a photograph needs to stand and say something on its own, without accompanying music or motion. It is a slice of life, a flash of a moment caught in a second that lives on across generations. Every wedding story deserves epic photos.

Hope you had as much fun reading about this series as we had while creating it.

For booking related questions or to talk about life or photography in general, get in touch with us through the Contact section of our website.