Christian weddings in India's biggest city
To my mind, Bhagirathy Samudram, a talented photographer I happen to also be friends with, is a living sparkler. From her mischievous smiles to the wit and life she brings to each photograph she clicks, Rathy (as she loves to be called) is a veritable bag of tricks.
Rathy and I have been acquaintances on Twitter and then friends for more than five years now and someday, we hope to fulfil our wish of meeting in real life and being photographer and model to each other. Until that happy day, I do hope the readers of Bombay Brides find this Bridal Vendor’s services – that of professional wedding photography, worth a try and hire.
Operating under Ratzzz Photofactory and based in Chennai, Rathy is originally from Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu. An engineer (leather technology) by education, Rathy worked with a major corporation for more than three years before discovering her true calling – photography. Amen!
True to her gung-ho personality, Rathy pursued this newfound interest and worked and practiced hard for a year under established photographers. Additionally, she added content manager, social media executive, magazine marketing manager, content editor/head and column writer for three separate magazines to her bag of skills before dedicating herself to freelancing as a photographer with Ratzzz Photofactory.
When I am not photographing, I am either dreaming about new concepts or curled up in a corner with a book and deriving themes out of it. I think of photographs every waking/sleeping moment!
While wedding photography may be a recent area of interest for Rathy, she has photographed birthdays, children’s and modelling portfolios, product shoots, pets and portraits ever since Ratzzz Photofactory’s start. Her motto is to accept anything and everything – unless she is uncomfortable with a project.
Two shoots in particular stand out on Rathy’s photography page (and are her favourites): The Frida-inspired shoot she did with her stunning friend, Ashwini and an assignment documenting an ancient dance form called Karagattam in a village in Tirunelveli.
A further look at her online spaces is enough to convince anyone of the full gamut of her expertise and I strongly recommend y’all flip through her Facebook Page for Ratzzz Photofactory and her portfolio website. They are absolutely fun!
The early days for a novice taking up a camera for the first time are very important, and when I asked Rathy about what sparked her foray into photography, I had to smile at her reply:
I woke up one fine October morning with the message that my salary has been credited. I went to an E-zone and bought a Canon AS590 without a second thought. The camera was a hybrid Prosumer camera and a new arrival on the market. I burnt most of my salary.
As easy as that!
Rathy, staying true to form as a ‘amateur wannabe photographer’ back then, unleashed her camera on unsuspecting flowers and shots of the rising and setting sun.
Her first wedding shoot was a request from Rathy’s friend to photograph candids of his Hindu wedding. It may not have got her any clients, but it did teach her a number of valuable lessons; mainly, carry loads of energy bars/dry fruits and energy drinks along to her next wedding shoot! On a more serious note, her first shoot also allowed Rathy to collaborate with the other photographers and videographers present to produce the final album. It was great exposure, one to serve her well later in her career.
Four days of continuous shoot without much break, going to sleep after the bride and groom and waking up before them, well you know what that does to your body.
Couples these days look for photographers who can capture candid moments with skill and I cannot think of another photographer who treats this tricky area of bridal photography better than Rathy. Her candids capture the utter delight and mischief that’s present just beneath the surface of solemn wedding rituals and ceremonies. Her brides and grooms sparkle and grin when the world’s eyes aren’t on them and Rathy’s camera knows just the right moment to go click!
Rathy’s first Christian wedding shoot followed some months later. A short, private ceremony with select relatives of the couple, the bridal couple were strangers to Rathy – a fact she used to her advantage as it allowed her to direct them better. She has photographed ten Christian weddings in South India since then – seven of them Roman Catholic, two Syrian Catholic and one Protestant.
Her familiarity with Christian weddings has been on the rise ever since her first Christian wedding photography contract, and Rathy ensures that she is well-prepared for each ceremony as soon as she receives the contract. A meeting with the pastor of the church is her priority at this stage as he is the right person to explain the wedding ceremony. She has a look at the book of wedding rites too, as it tends to list the ceremony and the various psalms and songs.
A meeting with the bridal couple and their parents is next and Rathy ensures that she is able to discuss all their concerns before the ceremony and understands the parts of the nuptials and celebrations that they wish for her to focus upon.
So far, there has not been an issue with me belonging to a different faith. If anything, being female and looking young and small has been an advantage.
When hired for weddings where she isn’t familiar with the faith, Rathy performs a basic Google search and goes through shots from other photographers as part of her research.
For the duration of all her assignments, Rathy is pretty hands-on as a photographer. Being female, brides tend to hire her for the bridal photography and she is with them all the time. Upon some occasions, Rathy has found herself playing the part of a bridesmaid and at one point, she even stepped in for the stylist!
The stress the bride goes through is immense. There is a post-nuptials moment when the bride breaks down or has a meltdown. I have to keep aside my camera and make sure she is attended to, as everyone’s stress level in the family runs high. A tip would be to keep the bride’s best friend’s mobile number at hand and call her at this point. And hug the bride, she NEEDS it.
I definitely think I would be one lucky bride if I had a photographer at hand who seems to understand my emotional meter on the big day and acts with such aplomb.
On Rathy’s dream wedding photography wish list is to shoot a wedding in Jaipur, a tribal wedding in North East India and a wedding in Kolkatta. She is fascinated by the cultural diversity India presents when it comes to weddings and finds it deeply challenging.
Each city/community has a quirky custom of its own. Like, in North India, Hindu weddings take place closer to midnight. The bridal costumes too are so different. The North Indian bride has an option to choose between wearing a saree, a lehenga, ghagras, etc. South Indian brides however, have to stick to kanjeevaram sarees and traditional jewellery. South Indian weddings also have many rituals known as oonjal, thengai urttu, modhiram thedu, etc. to break the ice between the couple, which is not seen in any other communities.
For wedding shoots in Tamil Nadu, Rathy works with a dedicated team (2 photographers, 2 videographers and 1 technical person) to take care of the complete shoot; which includes conventional photography, videography and creative photography. The package is priced around Rs. 70,000 and includes 1 album and 3 sets of DVDs.
Rathy’s pricing for wedding shoots in Mumbai and elsewhere is Rs. 40,000, plus travel costs and accommodation for a 2-day shoot. This package involves hiring Rathy’s services as a standalone creative wedding photographer and she compiles an album of about 200 photographs selected from the shoot. For wedding photography assignments without an album, Rathy charges Rs. 20,000.
Readers of Bombay Brides, I strongly recommend Bhagirathy’s incredible talents as a wedding photographer and I think you folks ought to get in touch with her to book her services for the coming wedding season. Visit her website Ratzzz Photofactory and her Facebook Page of the same name to get to know her and her work better.
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