I started off my photography career shooting weddings, and only weddings! Before I had kids, I had the physical and emotional bandwidth for weekly 10 hour shooting days for most of the summer and early fall and truly loved it; the range of emotions, fast paced (and sometimes slow…) nature of ceremonies, and variety of events, lighting, and energy on a given day sky rocketed my comfort with manual settings and thinking fast with my gear and eye!
Given my trip to India in 2010 was the catalyst for my desire to pick up my camera more, it’s no surprise that I LOVE capturing Indian fusion ceremonies as it brings together multiple dimensions of my own identity and so many aspects of the day are deeply familiar and personal to me. A “fusion” Indian wedding often involves the blending of two cultures, between the couple and within an individual who feels they want to honor multiple parts of their identity as a second or third generation immigrant and South Asian American. What I really love about these weddings is observing what elements of a Hindu/traditional Indian ceremony will be “fused” or brought together with more western traditions, such as the choice to have the wedding on a farm or vineyard (NOT a hotel...where many more traditional Indian ceremonies take place), or modifying outfits (such a lengha/dress blend), having a first look, and hiring a DJ that alternates between bhangra and billboard dance songs.
One difficult dimension to being a wedding photographer is often feeling separate from the event and in a clear outsider role. I do not feel this way when I am hired to shoot Indian weddings as I’m often immediately and frequently mistaken by guests as a good friend or family member doing a favor for the couple – an erroneous assumption that I welcome as it symbolizes a sense of belonging I’m already feeling when I’m there. Plus, there are sooo may details and cultural nuances I'm usually already familiar with, which often relieves the couple from having to explain or prepare me for the many expected and unexpected parts of the day, such as…time delays…assertive aunties who want family pictures…where to stand during a baraat or how to weave my way into an unmovable crowd…time delays…making sure I am front and center when the garlands are exchanged (equivalent to rings being exchanged)…and so so much more!
One of my favorite fusion weddings was Garrett and Krishanti’s wedding at Unionville Vineyard in Ringoes, NJ. The bride is a total bad ass – plays in a femme-punk rock band in Brooklyn! This wedding was small and honored Krishanti's Tamil and Hindu roots while also reflecting many parts of their shared alternative NYC lives.