Getting to know your myShaadi.in photographer: Arjun Kartha
myShaadi: Tell us a bit about yourself and your company
Arjun: We’re a small husband-wife driven boutique photography setup – neither of whom ever dreamt we would become well known all over India for wedding photography when we first got married! We’re a small family business – and we enjoy working with other families helping deliver wedding memories that they will cherish for a long time.
Both of us left our full blown corporate careers to take on full time wedding photography, and we’ve never looked back. I started my career in advertising before moving to retail consulting and finally IT Marketing with IBM India before realizing I had always wanted to be a photographer. Similarly Praerna has always been a creative professional with a bundle of talents at her disposal, which makes her the perfect companion on a wedding shoot. With over six years in the advertising industry behind her, she uses all her talents to be able to direct a wedding shoot, sniff out moments from behind the scenes and be able to put a bride at ease for that perfect portrait shot. When not shooting a wedding, Praerna is a talented food blogger, photographer and food-stylist. She runs a food blog called Food-dee-dum, and can also be found in the AKP studios chasing after that perfect shot of a waffle!
We started by offering just bespoke candid wedding photography, but soon learned that couples wanted much more. Today, we have a team of professionals who take on the traditional aspects of still photography, and wonderful documentary wedding directors who can create stunning wedding movies – each of which is a guaranteed blockbuster!
myShaadi: How did you get into wedding photography?
Arjun: I’ve always been a hobbyist and part-time photographer –and when we got married in 2010, we realized that there was a huge gap between how wedding photography happens in India, and the kind of quality and innovation that exists abroad. We started like most people – by shooting weddings for friends and family pro bono – and that’s when the light-bulb moment happened. We realized that this was something that we liked doing - and we started juggling wedding photography gigs in addition to our corporate careers. As things progressed, we discovered how much fun wedding photography was – and we said adieu to our corporate jobs and took up full time wedding photography.
myShaadi: What is your favourite part of the wedding day to capture?
Arjun: Well, Indian weddings are so much more than just the wedding "day" per se. There are so many little moments that lead up to the big day – some of these could be on the same day, or even days before hand. Of these, I’d have to say that smaller and quieter functions like the "haldi" can be great fun to shoot! This is normally a time when the inner family teases and has a lot of fun with the bride or the groom – inevitably accompanied by wild jokes and squeals of laughter! As a photographer, times like these can be really rewarding with awesome behind the scenes memories that lasts forever.
In addition, another period in the wedding that I ALWAYS enjoy is the moment the bride walks in. I've said this a million times – but there’s nothing like the moment when she first comes in – there’s an audible hush with the eyes of the entire crowd are on her. Wedding photography magic moment!
myShaadi: What is the most awkward moment you've experienced while on the job?
Arjun: I'm happy to say that all the weddings we’ve shot have gone off rather peacefully. However, we once averted disaster when shooting a wedding in Delhi where the couple had decided to have a traditional wedding studio cover the wedding in addition to us. Sometimes the junior photographers tend to get a little carried away and act aggressive – something that can be a little awkward for us, as we’re fairly peaceful sorts and don’t really want to spoil someone’s day. Luckily a few stern words in the right direction helped, and the show went on!
myShaadi: What's the best thing you ever ate at a wedding?
Arjun: Dessert, always the dessert! Well seriously – after you attend a certain number of weddings, all the food starts looking the same. However, the good part of our job is that we get to travel to the far corners of India. When we’re down south, we freak out on "sadhya" style meals (where you sit down on the floor, eat on banana leaves and have all sorts of goodies served to you). When we’re up north, there’s nothing more heavenly than the chaat and street food. We’re crazy foodies – so we love the variety. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the dessert is always my favourite part of the wedding!
myShaadi: What is one of the most favorite venues you have a shot at and why?
Arjun: While we love shooting destination weddings in Jaipur and Udaipur (oh, what lovely palaces!), I'd have to say that nothing beats shooting on a beach. ANY beach. If I'd have my way, I'd ask ALL couples to ditch the five-stars and opt for a simple ceremony at the beach during sunset! Shooting by the beach is simply magical – the soothing sound of the waves, the gentle sun during sunset and a couple very much in love usually makes for some awesome wedding memories.
myShaadi: Nikon or Canon?
Arjun: Haha, if only I had a penny for every time I've been asked this – I’d be a millionaire by now! To be honest, if you’d have asked me the same question a few years ago – I would have vociferously argued in favour of Nikon, brought out spec sheets and online forum links that support how Nikon is a superior system to work with. However today, I think I've attained "photographer nirvana" – the real answer to that question is that it doesn't matter! Any photographer should be able to pick up ANY camera body (as long as it’s a professional camera) and be able to complete the assignment. I own a complete Nikon system – but that’s only because when you go one way, there’s no going back!
myShaadi: What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?
Arjun: I would LOVE to shoot a wedding in the Maldives! Or Madagascar. Or Mauritius. It’s purely a coincidence that all these locations start with the letter "M" – but I think it’s fairly obvious that I love shooting by the beach. Coupled with the kind of mind-blowing sunsets these places have, I think I’d go bonkers shooting a wedding in any of those places. (Note to couples: if you’re getting married in any of these locations, let me know and I just may shoot your wedding for free!)
myShaadi: What is the biggest lesson you've learned and would like to pass on to other budding candid wedding photographers?
Arjun: Well, quite a few actually. Here are a few things I’ve learnt the hard way:
Don’t get overconfident: Shooting a wedding is a big responsibility! Intern or assist another photographer at least ten times before taking up a wedding of your own. It’s important to remember that a handful of good shots don’t make you a good wedding photographer – a professional photographer needs to deliver AT LEAST 300 usable and FINAL shots at the end of the day. Make sure you are able to do that.
Master your gear: This sounds simple, but it actually isn’t. It took me thousands of hours of photography to be able to operate a camera with my eyes closed. During a wedding, you won’t have time to operate menus and fiddle with buttons – you either get the shot, or you don’t.
Know the ceremony (or have someone along who does): Indian weddings have so many sub-cultures, it’s amazing. For instance, a marwari wedding differs so greatly from a south Indian Brahmin wedding – you may as well be shooting in a different country. Unless you know the significance of the rituals, you won’t be able to tie them in together. Make sure you study before hand!
Learn to work in changing light: Shooting weddings outdoors while it’s bright and sunny outside is easy. The same wedding in the evening with a variety of light sources is the challenging part. You’ll suddenly find yourself stuck with incandescent light coming in from a traditional video shooter, fluorescent light from wedding decorations and a mixture of other light sources, which can make manual white-balance settings a nightmare!
Have a shot-list: Try and walk into the wedding with a few concepts chalked out in your mind. You may suddenly be called upon to take a few portraits…and you may not have time to come up with new ideas. Have a plan, always!
Lastly, don’t do it for the money. Do it for the joy of giving a bride and a groom a body of work that’s immortal. Do it for the fact that you’re playing a key part in someone’s life. Do it for the satisfaction that genuine appreciation from real people will bring to your life.
Images Courtesy: Arjun Kartha
About Arjun Kartha:
Arjun Kartha is a 'non-wedding' wedding photographer with a candid, contemporary and off-beat approach to shooting Indian marriages. With years of rich experience, Arjun is one of the finest and most sought after wedding photographers in India. Working as a husband-wife team, Arjun and Praerna are candid wedding photography specialists - and veterans of the fledgling wedding photography genre in India. With a penchant for making "fun" photos, they love creating behind the scenes memories that will last a lifetime. Arjun is also a category winner of the prestigious Kodak Wedding Photographer of the Year 2011 award.