Definitive Guide for Dressing While Shooting an Indian Wedding
There’s no rulebook that says you have to dress up when shooting a wedding. But we suggest you do. Here’s why.
As wedding photographers, we all tend to think that, because we are artists, our art and skill are the only things that matter. So what is this brouhaha about clothes, dress code and dressing up at a wedding? Why is it even a topic of discussion?
As many of you know, the Wedding Photographer community in India is pretty connected – we like to talk to each other a lot, in person or through the digital medium. Would you believe that we have found this to be one of the most recurrent topics of conversation on the Wedding Photographer Facebook & WhatsApp groups that we’re a part of? From the basics of what to wear to the specifics of which brand and style of shoes are considered the most comfortable to shoot in all day, is the gamut of questions we ask each other all the time!
But you’re probably wondering: I’m not a guest at the wedding. So why is important for me as a wedding photographer to dress up?
Let us break it down for you.
Your client has trusted you with capturing one of the most significant days of their lives. It is a HUGE deal! It is your responsibility as professionals to respect them and their wedding by showing up nicely dressed. You would never show up at your corporate job in a wrinkled shirt or flips flops, would you? So treat this one just the same.
How you dress up is also a reflection of your brand. It is not a hidden fact that society judges us on how we dress. In this context, dressing up smart at a wedding becomes all-important because of two things.
First, if you’re looking smart, you’re more likely to get referrals from the guests. Impressions are important, and your first impression at the guests must be that you take your job seriously.
Second, people’s attitude toward you at a wedding will change based on how you dress. If you dress like a professional, they will treat you like one. Sure, you’re not bound to, but it’ll be easier to merge and mingle with the people if you look like one of the guests.
“Considering this (wedding photography) is a creative field and our work is heavily aesthetically inclined, it only makes sense that your appearance also speaks about your taste,” says Richa Kashelkar, a wedding photographer based in Goa.
“While weddings are all about having fun, as photographers we are cognisant of the fact that we have a responsibility towards the couple and how we dress and behave reflects on them. The couple we are making memories for has invited us to their wedding and into their life, so we dress accordingly,” adds Prasheila Lookhar from Going Bananas Photography.
So now that we’ve convinced you to dress up and look sharp, what should you wear to a wedding? The answer is multifold and depends on the kind of wedding it is, your style and brand as a photographer, and the client you’re working with. Finding that delicate balance between dressing sharp but functional can put you in a tough spot. So here are a few style tips that our fellow photographer’s swear by, to get you started.
The one thing that all wedding photographer’s we spoke to agree on is – it is extremely important to blend in at a wedding. It is natural for people to get conscious in front of a camera and more so when they realise one is pointed it at them. Our job as candid and documentary photographers becomes difficult if the subject is hyper-aware of our presence.
“Candid photography cannot really be candid if the people notice you,” says Simran from Bhumi and Simran Photography.
When choosing an outfit to photograph a wedding in, keep in mind that team members often come into each others’ frames. Wearing loud or bright colours could make that much more obvious, so neutrals are always a good choice. If you’re inconspicuous, your job as a documentary photographer at a wedding is half done.
Dress smart but comfortable
Having shot hundreds of weddings in their career, most wedding photographers have their default outfits planned. But if you’re someone who’s starting out and are worrying about what to wear, don’t fret.
Vivek Sequeira, a wedding photographer based in Mangalore, keeps it functional in a plain, dark blazer for most wedding events. He says he tries to keep it formal, but “not too formal”, as shooting comfortably is important.
It is also extremely important to invest in a pair of good, solid, comfortable shoes. You know you’re going to be on your feet for hours at an end. You will run, jump, crawl, and climb for that perfect shot and you need to be comfortable doing it.
Delhi-based wedding photographer Karan Sidhu says that he likes to dress as if he were a close friend of the couple. His go-to is well fitting Kurtas and Nehru jackets, and he swears by his Toms for comfort, “I don’t wear anything apart from Toms.”
Dress according to the event/situation
It is always a good idea to consult with your client about the themes and structure of their wedding events. You don’t want to turn up dressed in green for an all-black colour theme party. Blending in also means dressing up appropriately for wedding events, for example wearing kurtas and jackets for the more traditional events and maybe smart blazers (for men) and a dress (for women photographers) for the cocktail evening.
Richa sums it up perfectly,“ … in weddings, if blending in means dressing up, then so be it”.
Consider a dress code or theme for your team
This may seem contradictory to when we said it is important to blend in, but having a similar style for your entire team is a good idea. It need not be anything overtly noticeable, but in case the family needs to get to you urgently, a themed dressing style might help in locating you or your team members quickly. You could have colour coded elements in the team’s attire, for example, same coloured bandis/blazers/kurtas or even go one step further to brand your camera straps/bags with your company logo. Some sort of uniformity to establish you and your team members as one goes a long way in brand recall.
Choose the right accessories
Now we don’t mean bling yourself up with jewellery or those ray-bans you love so much. But having a few functional accessories can make it easier for you to move around to shoot. You can get custom-made pants or kurtas with multiple pockets to carry around extra batteries, memory cards and triggers.
Women photographers, you can count on Simran’s advice to carry wristlets, ‘potli’ purses or even small sling bags to be able to store personal basics as well as photography accessories. Find accessories that work best for you, to be able to marry convenience & efficiency with comfort.
As we said, there is no rulebook to dressing up as a wedding photographer. But after having spoken to peers in the community, we can safely say that there are certainly lots of advantages to it. The way we dress and behave reflects our brand and personality. Not only is it a great branding tool but also is a small step towards ensuring client delight in their overall experience with their wedding photographers.
Have any style recommendations for us? Let us know in the comments.
Cover Photo Credit: Karan Sidhu Photography