Pick your favorite celebrity wedding photos from the past five years and chances are they’ve all been clicked by Joseph Radhik and his team: Nick Jonas’ reaction to finding his name in Priyanka Chopra’s mehendi, Vicky Kaushal and Katrina Kaif sharing a quiet moment against the backdrop of a sunset, or Virat Kohli lovingly kissing Anushka Sharma’s forehead. Radhik’s unblinking lens ensured we were privy to some of the most intimate, unfiltered moments from these big Indian weddings.
“My photos are not art. The first reaction I expect from you is ‘awww!’, and that you smile. I see weddings as manifestations of love, and nothing else. And my only requirement is that you have a good time,” says Radhik.
Radhik’s photographs are not the laboriously posed, carefully orchestrated marriages that weddings have become famous for. Looks like they were clicked by a friend who is part of the gang.
Friend with benefits
“This is precisely the idea behind our efforts: what would your wedding look like if it were photographed by your friend? We are paid to be that friend! Radhik smiled, continuing, “When you dance in your baraat, I have to be a baraati, not a foreigner. I need to be part of the emotion to capture the emotion.
What makes all his images so perfect? “It’s the skill and the nerd in me,” laughs the 38-year-old photographer.
Radhik leads Stories, a 23-member team of 11 photographers and filmmakers he has hand-picked and trained. And their USP is those precious split-second moments. “We do not retouch our photos. They look perfect because of the emotions they capture. If you check, you will find a lot of imperfections,” he reveals.
“Getting the perfect moment is more important than creating a technically perfect image. Photography is 5% skill, 5% your gear and 90% being there. not to be there physically, you have to be completely there emotionally,” says Radhik.
Becoming a professional photographer had never been part of Radhik’s career plan. He grew up as a typical Hyderabad boy who after completing his engineering education went to business school and after graduating from IIM joined a corporate job.
“Photography has always been a hobby. I got my first digital camera while I was still studying engineering. It was a present from my father. I would only photograph sunsets and insects! he’s laughing.
But when his parents task him with finding a wedding photographer for his sister’s wedding, a world opens up to him.
“It was December 2008. I had been in love with photography for eight years, but I hadn’t even heard of a genre called wedding photography! Radhik shakes his head.
He clicked a few snaps at his sister’s wedding, but being the bride’s brother was the full-time job. However, it piqued his interest in the genre. “Between 2008 and 2009, I would go to my day job and spend the first two hours sitting in my cubicle looking at wedding photos. I was hooked!” said the nerd.
Then, in December 2009, Radhik took a photo at a friend’s wedding and uploaded it to his Flickr page. This single photo earned her her first wedding photo shoot. And that would become his turning point.
The shooting star !
Radhik quit his day job in October 2010 to become a professional photographer. A fortnight later, her story was on CNN IBN. Media coverage led him to share his story and vision at various seminars, and at one such conference he met a friend of Allu Arjun, who invited him to film the wedding of the Telugu idol.
“It was March 2011. Even being a Telugu boy, I had no idea how tall Bunny was; I hadn’t watched any of his films! laughs Radhik, who then filmed another extended family wedding, that of actor Ram Charan Teja, first cousin of Allu Arjun and son of Telugu superstar, Chiranjeevi.
Radhik convinced his brother, two years his senior and a business school graduate, to join him. Together they formed Stories. It was December 2012. By then, Radhik had photographed four of the biggest weddings of the year. But Joseph Radhik’s images didn’t become a household name until five years later.
“In December 2017, we shot Virat and Anushka’s wedding, and we became a kind of mainstream brand. Everyone in India had seen those images of Virat-Anushka, there was no escaping them. ! he’s laughing.
It takes a village
Today, the Joseph Radhik brand is not a one-man show; it is a strong army of 23 members! “I have a team shooting, it’s not just me. But there is standardization, ”he explains. In fact, the marriages of Jasprit Bumrah, Varun Dhawan and Rajkummar Rao were led by Shivali Chopra, the creative director of Stories.
Until a few years ago, “wedding photographers” were not taken seriously in India. In fact, the label “wedding photographer” was almost frowned upon. “A lot of people, seeing my work, have suggested that I shouldn’t call it wedding photography, but invent a term for it. But I don’t see what to be ashamed of. It’s my identity,” he says. .
However, not everything is fun and fun. “The misconception people have about my job is that it’s a glamorous job. It’s not! Whether it’s being in haldi’s line of fire, splashing water, sitting on a muddy area for that low angle shot, jostling in a crowd during baraat, it’s all part of our job,” he says. “It’s 30% of the rigor of a sports job and 20% of that of a photojournalist. But at least we work in beautiful destinations and air-conditioned rooms!” he’s laughing.
From HT Brunch, January 16, 2022
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