When I started out dabbling in commercial photography, it was oxymoronic to tell people that I specialize in Wedding Photography.
Till about 5 years back I used to despise everything associated with the traditional Indian wedding. It all started with the fear of weddings as a kid, the chaos, oppressive heat, big egos, family feuds and much more. Over the years, weddings were public occasions where your academic progress would be digged into. It would piss me off to no end when you meet this total stranger or the really concerned relative shaking their head with disbelief “You got only 880 for 1100 marks?” and would look upto my parents and say “Yenna , Doctor..Tution illaya?”. With my dad around a wedding, damn, it used to be a sure sign of bad luck for me, coz the bad temper and finger pointing would continue for a few days post a wedding. “Look at his son!! How well he is studying!! You are INDOLENT”.
By the time I finished school; I became a complete anti-social element and couldn’t handle any social gathering. Weddings were the worst of its kind. In social gatherings, kids either were trophies to be paraded or skeletons to be hidden secretly. As we grew up it was occasions for personal gloating or the reverse. For me after years of “Social” gatherings, my fear turned to pure hate toward anything “Social” and was bordering on hatred to the human species.
Years later in 2005, after many misadventures, the travel bug bit me which eventually led to my current passion and profession. But in the initial days, I still remember quite vividly, that I used to hate any human presence in my frame. Like an ignorant kid claiming that his life ambition is to become a “Jet Pilot”, when I started out with photography I also claimed that I would only shoot “Nature and Wild Life” and would practically abhor human presence.
Over the years, photography has taught me quite a bit about life and the way you “see” it. One by one, thanks to photography, I started addressing my deep dark fears, prejudices and other forms of insecurities. Actually the situation warranted for me to change and I didn’t have too many options.
Thanks to friends and their belief in my skills, and the many miles travelled, I switched gears and started capturing the various facets of the human race and actually enjoyed it. With every shoot either commercial or pro-bono, I started addressing specific situations and became better both as a photographer and a human being. In most, if not all, scenarios, the issue/problem would always lie within my head and would be nothing related to photography or its technical aspects.
With thirty years of baggage on me some things are hard to change. Earlier this year I was quite conscious that I was avoiding anything to do with family and relatives and maintained a degree of aloofness. It’s like a paralyzing fear that you are about to be stripped naked and will be paraded in the streets. This used to accentuate especially when I have to visit my hometown (Kovilpatti). Technically, it’s not even my hometown. My parents were born there.
I thought; Why not address this insecurity through photography too? I passed myself the tough assignment to capture the essence of “my” hometown as it is. The people, the places, the moods, the food etc., Initially as a part of my Project 365, every time I travelled to Kovilpatti, I used to make it a point to shoot something very Kovilpatti. As the time flew, I started seeing results in my frames and over time, I became a lot more equanimous to things around me.
I had a cousin’s wedding coming up in Sivakasi and I decided to bite the bullet. I decided that I will attend the wedding however dreadful and I shall take pictures however unpleasant. The thought process was, If I can survive this wedding with a smile, I could survive anything!
The result was quite stunning. The moment I started distancing myself and watching the world through the camera, the whole experience of shooting in between the chaos, the heat, big egos and the family feuds was like being placed bang in the middle of a complex South-Indian “Mega-Serial”, only here that you watch the different characters play their part in front of your eyes. I actually started appreciating people for who they are, their trials and tribulations and how they move on in life with an air of nonchalance. At the end of the wedding, though it was not a commercial shoot, I ended up with some stunning frames of the family. From then on, I’ve moved on. Now, with a camera in hand, I am ready for my next big challenge.
As the saying goes, “Photography is a great excuse for seeing things you ordinary wouldn’t.”
Be Happy !