The Wedding Photographer

Kishan Maheshwary, was born into a film family. He started his career in Bollywood as a controller of films and worked with directors like Ram Maheshwary, Mahesh Bhatt, Shyam Benegal, Asit Sen etc. He moved to Massachusetts in the 1980s and set up a career shooting American, and later Indian weddings.
"Creating memories for a lifetime..."

My typical ‘wedding shoot’ day begins after a sleepless night has ended. A wedding is a wedding in my definition, be it American or Indian; a huge affair with 500 guests or a very private one. I still cannot rest until I see the negatives of the shoot. After all I am creating a lifetime of memories with a machine (the camera). The day cannot be played back, and I will not have a second chance. 

I have photographed hundreds of weddings, but each wedding is preceded with meticulous preparation. My partner of 10 years Greg Vasali and I set up a studio at the venue, complete with a background, lights and camera. We shoot the wedding like a documentary. We go click-click from two different angles, never missing a moment. We take something like 400-500 pictures each time. We try to capture all the tender moments of the day—the planned, the unplanned and the spontaneous—through the lens of our cameras. A lot of times, the film making skills that I picked up in Bollywood helps me capture the best moods of the moment.

I have been a photographer in the New England area for the last 19 years. I started off doing big functions and American weddings. But the market for Indian wedding photography has burgeoned in the past 5 years.

There are many differences between an Indian wedding and an American wedding even from the photographer’s point of view. At American weddings, they expect you to arrive at a certain time and leave at the expected hour. A few weeks ago, I was invited to photograph an American wedding. I was asked to come in at 10 am. I reached the venue 30 minutes earlier, and they didn’t like it one bit. They expected me to arrive on the dot at 10 am and leave on the dot after the photography session. 

By contrast, at Indian weddings, if they want me to reach the venue at 9.30 am, they will ask me come in at 7.30 am. Even after midnight, they insist that I stay back to capture more moments.

Indian weddings are diverse too. Punjabi weddings are different from Tamil weddings in terms of actual rituals. But I would say that the basic mindset is the same at all Indian weddings.

Every wedding is a challenge. But certain weddings are more challenging than others. Usually at American weddings, I arrive at the venue for the rehearsal one day before the actual ceremony because I need to be aware of the limitations on my movements. At one American wedding I was asked by the priest not to use my flashgun. My hands went cold. How could I shoot effectively without a flashgun? After the ceremony, I went up to the priest and convinced him of how important the photos were for the bride and the groom. We did whole wedding again, this time for the camera!

I remember one Indian wedding where the outdoor setting was so perfect that I gathered all the 500 guests into the picture frame. I was shouting, begging everybody to lineup for the photo. But the result was well worth the effort. That photo is still among my favorites.

Each day is a learning experience for me. I try to improve my skills with each assignment. I have been lucky. Not everyone can make a living out of his or her passions. I have been blessed to live and work with my camera. 
-Kishan Maheshwary