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All yours for a crore - Feb 3rd 2011
Canvera Wins Asia Pacific & Japan Award

Not very long ago wedding photography was just a black and white affair with enthusiastic relatives wielding unwieldy film SLRs. But things have changed with photographers being paid up to Rs 1 crore to cover a single wedding

Happiness is priceless. And to preserve it wealthy Indians are coughing up almost that much. The culprit is the usual suspect, the great Indian wedding. Young couples planning to tie the knot are not leaving any stone unturned to zero in on a shutterbug with reputation, choose the perfect setting for their big day and script a fairytale romance on silver bromide.

On an average, nearly 10-12 million weddings take place in India every year; of these, six to seven million use the services of professional photographers, according to estimates. The market for wedding photo books alone may be roughly worth $1 billion, say wedding management advisers, though there is no authenticity to such a claim.
On the flip side, in a country like India, where surprises bludgeon logic, these numbers can be grossly understated. Indian weddings are a Rs 80,000 crore industry and expected to grow by 25 per cent per annum, according to estimates. And the number of big fat weddings that have a significant part of their budgets dedicated to photography is increasing every year, claims another set of wedding managers.

In the 1980s, when our dads got married, photography, and that too at weddings, was a black-and-white affair. Unwieldy film SLRs and snappy point-and-shoot Kodaks did duty along with well-meaning enthusiastic relatives who clicked away at precious moments. But things have changed — mainly due to a sweeping trend in the west. New phrases like wedding photo journalism and candid wedding photography are snapping at the heels of traditional ones like mainstream photography and fashion photography.

Award-winning photographer Pradeep Sanyal from Bangalore, who specialises in wedding portraits and destination weddings, says wedding photography in India has come a long way from its amateur days. "Earlier, parents used to pick the corner photography shop in the neighbourhood to cover a wedding in the family. These days the bride and bridegroom themselves approach us. Social media is a big factor in spreading awareness. Our parents had never asked who the photographer was. Now the reputation of the photographer and the quality of his portfolio are important factors in the couple’s decision making," he says.
Sanyal, an IIM Bangalore graduate, has spent a considerable part of his life trotting across the globe and clicking wildlife. He decided to get into mainstream wedding photography some four years ago when he saw people abroad spending small fortunes on documenting their weddings. "It's an art form there. Here some people are still scared to be called wedding photographers."

Some budding professional photographers, cornered to say if they would like to venture into the world of wedding photography considering the huge money involved, said no. Says Delhi-based fashion and commercial photographer, Bibhuti Bhattacharya: "I don't know if I would be comfortable standing in a crowd and photographing guests at a wedding. I don't know if you can call it art." But according to people in the industry, scores of ace fashion and agency photographers have their own private and covert websites hawking portfolios of weddings.

That perhaps explains the numerous websites on the internet advertising the skills of wedding photography specialists., and are but a few of the many smart ones waiting for a call from people getting married. was launched by the husband and wife duo of Vinayak Das and Snigda Sheel last year. Says Sheel: "The response has been unbelievable. We are completely booked for this year. We have provided services to NRI weddings, church weddings, Muslim weddings, Jain weddings, Bengali weddings, Tamil weddings, Coorgi weddings, Kannadiga weddings, Maharashtrian weddings and Arya Samaj weddings."

Most professional wedding photographers refuse to reveal the amount they charge to cover the different stages of a wedding, like mehendi (henna on the palms of the bride indicating that she is ready), arrival of the bridegroom and bidaai (a tearful bride leaving her parents’ home).

They are also cagey about naming their clients. But 59-year-old Raju Sultania from Kolkata with a hefty 30 years of wedding photography experience behind him said the fees of well-known photographers hover at around Rs 20 lakh to Rs 60 lakh. And the grapevine in the industry also buzzes with the news that some of the top celebrity photographers in the scenario are being courted with ridiculous fees close to nearly Rs 1 crore. "I am leaving for Guwahati soon. From there I will be travelling to Aamby Valley, Jaipur, Udaipur and Goa. It’s more or less a cross-country complicated affair these days. You cannot afford to not bag the big ones. And we get the assignments mainly through references," he says.

However, money is just one part of it. Serious photographers like Raghu Rai believe that there is a lot more to do with photography than just money. "Let's talk about Page 3 photographs. They can be revealing and give a glimpse of society and human behaviour if the photographer has the patience to watch, understand and capture the characters of the people at the parties. What we get instead is people hugging each other and posing with their drinks. It’s not about clicking as many photographs as you can to raise the bill. It depends on how deep an understanding you have of your subject," he says.

Confronted with the same argument, Sanyal pauses for a moment to think. "I would click pictures that a couple would love to see after...let's say...15 years of marriage. I don't want to see unknown people with gifts. A little bit of laughter, joy and that soft glint of a tear in the eye are what weddings are all about," he says.

In other words, wedding photography is all about capturing the emotions.

Now, how much would you pay to preserve those emotions? Considering that the itch sets in after the proverbial seventh year, it would perhaps pay to pay a little more.

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Canvera is an online photography company providing mass customized printed products and e-commerce solutions to professional photographers. Canvera's products and services are used by professional photographers to both deliver a high quality experience to their clients and also to market themselves better. Canvera's coffee-table-books were twice awarded the Best Photobook in Asia Pacific & Japan at the annual HP Digital Print Awards in 2008 & 2009. Canvera was also given the Best Innovation in Technology award by Asian Photography magazine for "bringing professionalism and innovation to an unorganized market" and the Tie-Lumis Award for "Entrepreneurial Excellence" in 2010. As on date Canvera has serviced the needs of professional photographers in more than 300 cities across India. Canvera entered the market in July 2008 and was founded by Dr. Dhiraj Kacker (CEO) and Peeyush Rai (CTO) who have previously worked at numerous successful startups in Silicon Valley. Canvera is financially backed by Footprint Ventures (, DFJ ( and Mumbai Angels (

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