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Wedding Photography Bootcamp 2016 Recap

The Arjun Kartha Wedding Photography Bootcamp 2016 Recap #makeitstrong

We were so overwhelmed by the amazing response and enthusiasm shown by all photographers during the last two seasons of our Wedding Photography Workshops, we just knew that we had to host a third one – but this time, we wanted to make it bigger and better! And sure enough, The Wedding Photography Bootcamp weekend was bigger, better, more power packed and comprehensive than before. It was an exhilarating experience, interacting with participants from different states and even from outside the country – the participants ranged from young budding photographers to professional wedding photographers with a few years experience!

As some of you may know, we love to talk about wedding photography. And photography in general. We love to share our experiences with fellow peers and our knowledge with those aspiring to do better. We want to reach as many people as possible to expand our market and make it better for everyone – hosting and conducting a workshop is one of the small ways in which we believe we can give back to our community. 

As far as workshops go, we wanted to make ours as demonstrative, interactive and hands-on as possible. While planning the sessions, we decided that we wanted participants to really get a sense of real weddings and shooting in real conditions – we wanted to create an experience that was as close to the real deal as we could. So the only way to do that was to hire a wedding venue, re-create a wedding setup, find models to play the bride & groom and simulate a wedding – right from the couple shoot to the wedding pheras. 

In addition, we had a lot of dynamic and interactive theory sessions to discuss photography styles, techniques and gear, the business of photography along with branding and marketing, simulated client meetings and how to convert leads to confirmed assignments. 

To plan the event, we tried to put in as much thought so that we could cover all our bases! We started with hiring the venue, the lovely Le Meridien Gurgaon, identifying the “ideal” Mandap design+lighting and finding a good Mandap Decorator to execute it for us, hiring good models, selecting the right outfits and accessories for them and, finally, arranging a priest to “conduct” the wedding ceremony. All in all, we put in almost enough work to plan and execute a real wedding!

The bootcamp was an intense combination of dynamic discussions and live shoots. We included 7 live-shoots and simulations, where we demonstrated techniques and gave each participant a chance to shoot their vision of every aspect of a wedding. 

Here’s the lowdown on what we covered and some Behind-The-Scenes photos.

Day 1 began with some general introductions and discussions about wedding photography myths, gear, techniques and couple poses. We simulated client meetings to demonstrate ways of creating a great impression on your clients, thereby increasing the chances of conversion. All of this was followed by the most interactive and dynamic discussions of all – positioning, branding and marketing. Almost everyone was stoked to learn about increasing reach and recall through marketing and social media.

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We also spoke about Album Design – why albums are important, how to make the selection and design process more efficient as well as good and not-so-good design practices. Praerna got her chance to wax eloquent on her favourite subject – using stories to create brilliant album design.

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Mr.Ranjit Yadav, CEO of Canvera, came in himself to talk about the changing trends in albums, the importance of design and process as well as everything that goes in to delivering a beautiful photo-book full of fond wedding memories. 

After all this theory and discussion, all the tips and tricks, everyone was raring to go out and shoot. We proceeded to the Aravali Bio Diversity Park, Gurgaon, for the first Live Shoot Session: The Outdoor Pre-Wedding Couple Shoot.

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We briefed the group on the basics of composition, posing and couple interaction – one of the most important aspects of a successful couple shoot is to make the couple comfortable enough to stop feeling conscious of the camera. It’s important to make them feel relaxed and natural. 

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Everyone was divided into groups and they all took turns, giving everyone a chance to try their hand and get feedback on their techniques and manner. 

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In addition to basic couple posing, lighting and techniques, we also demonstrated the use of props like coloured helium balloons, coloured smoke etc add some drama to the shots. The idea was to make the experience feel as close to one of our actual Pre-Wedding Couple Shoots. 

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Despite the heat of the sweltering day, it seemed like everyone had a great time and went away with some gorgeous shots of the couple in the beautiful surroundings of the Bio-D! 

Day 2 began with an intensive session on photo editing and post processing – using the images shot the previous evening of the Couple Shoot, we demonstrated the basics of photo processing, shared some tips and tricks as well as discussed good workflow for data. Because everyone had images from the previous evening, we could demonstrate the process live on the screen and give them a chance to replicate and learn on their own images with real-time feedback. 

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After responding to the myriad questions regarding post-processing, we moved on to the real deal. The “getting ready”, boudoir shoot and bride+groom portraits. Le Meridien had secured their Presidential Suite for us to be able to demonstrate how this shoot takes place in a “real” situation, i.e. the bride & groom getting ready in a hotel suite, with the ambience to boot. 

A quick briefing on posing and lighting formed the prelude of this session before we let everyone take turns in getting their shots. 
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Aaaaaand, we jump right in to the action. This is one of our personal favourite parts of a wedding shoot and it seems that all the participants shared our enthusiasm. 

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It was followed by some couple portraits in all their wedding finery and, finally, the exciting wedding ceremony shoot – complete with mandap and priest! We realise that the mandap forms the centrepiece of any Hindu wedding and never forget to appreciate the hard work that goes into creating a beautiful mandap. We tried to create one which would make a lovely backdrop to the wedding ceremony without intruding upon the real story, that of the bride and groom. We carefully chose a minimal design and enhanced it with soft lighting and our beloved mirchi lights! We truly think that these inexpensive but beautiful lights are every photographers’ favourite! 

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We briefed the priest to demonstrate all the high points of a Hindu Arya Samaj wedding without actually marrying the model couple off! 

akp-44 As always, we divided them up into groups and gave them all a chance to experiment with getting their shots and shared live feedback, tips and tricks with them.

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We rounded it all up with a full group photograph of everyone who attended and was a part of making the Wedding Photography Bootcamp 2016 a great success. 
akp-28We had a wonderful time and can’t wait to host and conduct more of these Wedding Photography Bootcamps! To know when the next one is scheduled, subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the top right corner, and stay tuned to the Facebook Page for updates and details.

Here are some of the actual photographs we took over the two days of the workshop.

DAY 1 – Pre-wedding Shoot!

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DAY 2 – Boudoir Photography

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Couple portraits before the wedding!

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And last but not the least, the actual wedding ceremony!

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We thank everyone who came, everyone who helped put it together and, of course, our lovely partners, Le Meridien Gurgaon and Canvera.

All behind-the-scenes photos credit Vidhi Bharadwaj/Thoda Strong. 

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Credits – Day 1

Venue: Le Meridien, Gurgaon (Delhi NCR)
Pre-Wedding Couple Shoot Location: Aravali Bio-Diversity Park Gurgaon

Models: Priya & Sahil
Outfits: Mad Sam Tin Zin (for Priya) and Dhruv Vaish (for Sahil)
Jewellery: Malleka from Nimai , Shahpur Jat
Makeup & Hair: Kabir and Sangeeta – The Beauty Brigade

Credits – Day 2

Location: Le Meredien , Gurgaon (Delhi NCR)
Models: Priya and Sahil
Outfits: Mad Sam Tin Zin (for Priya) and Dhruv Vaish (for Sahil)
Jewellery: Vasundhara Mantri from Nimai, Shahpur Jat
Makeup & Hair: Kabir and Sangeeta – The Beauty Brigade

 

Event Partners:

Venue & Hospitality Partner: Le Meridien, Gurgaon (Delhi NCR)
Print Partner: Canvera

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Arjun Kartha Photography organises Wedding Photography Workshops and Wedding Photography Seminars from time to time. To stay updated with future events, subscribe to our blog (using the box on the top right corner) or subscribe to our Facebook Page

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Basics of Photography session with IBM

Photography Session with IBM

Talking about photography – especially to photography enthusiasts is always fun! In case you didn’t know, before opening up a photography studio and starting my photography business – I used to work in the marketing department of the famous IT biggie – IBM. When IBM got in touch with me recently to come in and give a session on Basics of Photography to amateur and budding photographers in the organisation, I knew it would be something interesting. What better than being invited to your old working space to talk about what you love the most!

It was overwhelming to go back to my old office and meet old colleagues and some new lovely people too!
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The session was lively and energetic and it was great to receive so many questions and queries about photography from the IBM people and had great fun discussing them.

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Seeing the spread of the popularity of Photography and DSLRs becoming cheaper and easily accessible, we decided to start with the history of photography and how cameras came into being and then went onto discuss the basic functions of the camera.

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With the demonstration on the camera, we discussed the basics like exposure triangle,including ISO, aperture and shutter speed.

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To explain the basic elements in detail , we also conducted a live shoot and explained the basics of off-camera lighting! We were lucky to have a pretty model in the audience 🙂

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We also discussed the importance of Composition and Framing in detail and additional fun things to do with the camera and different lenses such as forced perspective!

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IBM Basics of PhotographyIBM Basics of PhotographyIBM Basics of PhotographyIBM Basics of Photography        Talking about the upcoming Wedding Photography Bootcamp 2016!IBM Basics of Photography
IBM Basics of PhotographyA little token of appreciation from the IBM folks!
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Of course, no session on photography is complete without the group photo in the end! 

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Its always great fun to share my knowledge and experiences with new enthusiastic people! Hope to spread the love of photography amongst more and more people 🙂

 

All photos credit-  Ashu Kalra/Thoda Strong. 

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Wedding Photography Bootcamp 2016: New Delhi

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Indian Wedding Photography Bootcamp 2016

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Cost: INR 17,500 (Special early bird discount INR 15,000*). Update: Early bird discount tickets sold out! 

Duration: Two days – 24-25 June 2016

Status: Registrations Open!

*Early bird registration fee valid for the first 5 registrations only. Use coupon code EARLYBIRD during checkout to apply the discount. 

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[button color=”RED” url=”http://imojo.in/dymgu1″]REGISTER HERE[/button]

I am proud to announce the third annual Indian Wedding Photography bootcamp 2016! This one-of-a-kind workshop is now going to be bigger and better – and is going to be the BIGGEST wedding photography workshop in India – ever! We’re going to put our heart and soul into telling (and showing) you everything we know about wedding photography and are going to help you become better photographers. 

Watch the video!

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Gain from this unique workshop

  • Gain invaluable knowledge and practice while learning from one India’s best wedding photographers 
  • Profit from an intensive jam packed 2-day schedule that will cover everything from the evolution of wedding photography to how to run a successful wedding photography business 
  • Learn on-the-job while shooting live with Arjun Kartha 
  • Motivate and take your creativity to the next level with this collaborative session with a room full of wedding photographers 
  • Open your mind with no-holds-barred style interactive Q&A sessions 
  • Practice your skills with simulated sessions that will cover all parts of an Indian wedding 

What to expect 

  • Wedding Photography in India – origins, trends and styles associated with the industry
  • What does it take to shoot a wedding? Gear needed, and how you can gain experience
  • Working with off-camera lights, and how to use minimal lighting to gain phenomenal results
  • Seven live shoots with real people with individual shooting time per participant with hands on coaching by Arjun
  • Working with a couple – and how to ace a couple shoot
  • Post production and workflow basics – how to go from thousands of photos to a carefully curated story
  • Album design and production – telling the story
  • The fundamentals of running a photography business: from freelancer to business owner 
  • Marketing 101: How to build a wedding photography brand 
  • …and much more! 

Who should attend? 

The bootcamp is open to all photographers! If you’ve never shot a wedding, or have been toying with the thought of wedding photography as an alternate career, this is a must-attend for you. Over the course of the two day workshop, you will learn about the fundamentals of shooting a wedding and understand the rigor and effort it takes to successfully create a wedding story. You will understand that wedding photography can be one of the most strenuous and challenging genres of photography – and why you need to have a solid foundation in the principles of photography to be able own the responsibility of shooting the most important day in someone’s life!


Registration 

Payments towards registration needs to be made in advance. To register, please click on the link below.

[button color=”RED” url=”http://imojo.in/dymgu1″]REGISTER HERE[/button] 

WE have LIMITED SEATS! Register soon to ensure you block a seat at the event. 

[box title=””]To manually register, or for any questions please contact the Bootcamp Helpdesk. 

Phone: Ashu Kalra: +91 7838-997237

Email: [email protected][/box]


FAQs

Q: I don’t own a DSLR. Can I still attend the workshop?

A: I would seriously recommend having your own camera for the workshop. If you do not own one at the moment, there are various rental options available in New Delhi. Future Forward is a good place to start.

Q: I don’t own a laptop. Can I still attend the workshop?

A: As above, photography is all about a workflow – and learning how to smoothly transition from the camera to post production is an important part of what you need to learn

Q: I am not from Delhi and will be coming only for the workshop. Is stay included?

A: Unfortunately not! You will need to make your own staying and travel arrangements to Le Meriden, Gurgaon. 

Q: Will I get the opportunity to shoot with the couple?

A: Yes! All course participants will get a chance to shoot solo with the models who will simulate a real couple – while being guided by Arjun

Q: Can I use the images to build by portfolio?

A: Technically, yes. Any images shot by you are your own property and can be used to build your portfolio. To be fair though, you should mention that the images are simulated and they aren’t a real couple.

Q: Can I pay at the venue?

A: No. We have limited seats which are first-come-first-serve only. You need to pay ASAP in order to secure your seat at the bootcamp.

Q: Can I pay via cash (or, I don’t have a credit card)?

A: You will need to physically deposit the cash at our office or in our bank accounts. Please contact [email protected] to sort it out. 

Q: I have certain questions or doubts. Who do I contact?

A: Please direct all enquiries to [email protected] or call Ashu at +91-7838-997237

[button color=”RED” url=”http://imojo.in/dymgu1″]REGISTER HERE[/button]

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PIC 2015

The PIC 2015 Big Ticket Giveaway!

PIC 2015

 

I’m happy to announce that I’m going to be giving away a bunch of tickets to the Photography India Conclave 2015 – exclusively via the blog and Facebook! 

About PIC 2015

Cribbed long enough to have a photographers retreat? Well not anymore! “Photography India Conclave (P.I.C.) 2015” – is India’s first ever conference and industry network on photography. The Photography Conclave is going to make its debut in India with up to 5,000 expected visitors and over 500 attendees. The platform will witness enthusiasts, beginners, professionals, experts & industry trade suppliers, all under one common roof making it one the biggest network of photography industry in India! 

The Big Ticket Giveaway! 

I’m going to be giving away up to 10 tickets to the event via this blog and on Facebook. Tickets are priced at INR 4,000 each – and I’m going to be giving away 10 of them! 

How to enter: 

  1. Please SHARE this page on Facebook and make sure you’ve LIKED my Facebook page here
  2. In the comments field below, tell me WHY you want to attend the PIC 2015.
  3. Please include your name, mobile number and e-mail address in the comments field along with your reason.
  4. DEADLINE for entry: Wednesday, 1 July 12 pm.
  5. That’s it!

I’m going to personally choose the BEST reasons given in the comments field below. Winners will be notified via e-mail by 4 July 2015. I look forward to seeing you guys at the event!

Important Stuff:

  • Winners will be contacted by the event organisers for their registration and can pick up their passes at the day of the event.
  • Any questions or co-ordination will be handled by the event organisers. 

 

 

 

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Recap: APEX – Arjun Kartha Wedding Photography Workshop, Oct 2014 New Delhi

Recap: The APEX – Arjun Kartha Wedding Photography Workshop, New Delhi Oct 2014.

Phew! It’s been a week since the workshop, and we’re back in the office after had an amazing time! Here’s a quick post with lots of behind-the-scenes fun moments with the batch, as well as a selection of some of the images we shot during the two-day session! 

To receive updates on future workshops, enter your email address to subscribe to the blog and subscribe to our Facebook Page for alerts! 

When we announced the Wedding Workshop on the blog earlier in October, we were blown away by the response and the interest shown by folks wanting to attend it. Sadly, we had decided to only have 15 slots to be able to give personal attention to everyone. Despite not being able to accommodate more participants, the experience was an exhilarating one — interacting with a group of photographers who are as passionate about wedding photography as we are. The attendees ranged from those who are still in photography school to a 47 year old veteran photojournalist.

As some of you may know, after actually taking photos at weddings, our second favourite thing to do is talk about photography. And this workshop gave us just the right space to do so. The workshop weekend was full of energetic discussions and live shoot modules, during which we shared ideas and demonstrated techniques; then we gave each participant an opportunity to try it out for themselves. We had much more fun than we anticipated and, believe it or not, learned a few things ourselves.

Models & make-up artists were hired, outfits sourced and a mandap/vedi created! It was almost like planning a real mini-wedding. Almost.

We began both days with some theory — discussing subjects like styles and trends in wedding photography, what to expect while shooting a wedding, equipment recommendations, a-day-in-the-life-of etc.

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The live shoot module for Day 1 was held at Mehrauli Archaeological Park which, believe it or not, consists of 100 or more historically significant monuments. We are officially in love with this location. It’s beautiful and it provided us with the perfect space to give all the participants some shoot time. The idea was to simulate a pre-wedding session with a couple, and to be able to give the participants ideas and practice to be able to think on their feet while creating the perfect shot. 

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The AKP support team as well as the inevitable curious bystanders added to the fun and madness.

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Here are a few of our favourite images we shot from the Day 1 shoot:

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Our favourite shot from the day would have to be this one — it also helped demonstrate photography techniques in low light settings. akp-wedding-photography-workshops-Delhi-October-38

Day 2 began with more discussions on image curation, photo processing, album design and Wedding Photography as a business in India.

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The second live shoot module was that of boudoir photography and bridal portraiture…

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Here are some of our favourite images we shot from this module…

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Next was our carefully created mandap, where we simulated the important stages of a typical North Indian Hindu wedding.

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And one last one, to remember the batch by!

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[alert color=”red” icon=””]To stay tuned workshop updates, and to know when the next workshop is scheduled in your city – sign up to the Facebook page, or enter your email address to subscribe to the blog on the top right corner! [/alert]

 

We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and can’t wait to conduct more of these workshops! To know when the next one is scheduled, subscribe to the blog by entering your email address on the top right corner, and tuned to the Facebook Page for updates and details.

Credits – Day 1

Location: Mehrauli Archaeological Park
Models:
Akanksha Sareen & Vaibhav Keswani

Outfits: Models’ Own
Makeup & Hair: Makeup Mafia

Credits – Day 2

Location: APEX Basement Studio and Terrace
Models:
Akanksha Sareen & Vaibhav Keswani

Outfits: Mad Sam Tin Zin (for Akanksha) and Shashank & Prajwal (for Vaibhav)
Makeup & Hair: Makeup Mafia

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Dealing with Malware: Recovering from a blacklisted website

“Help, my WordPress based photography site was infected with malware!”

“Help, my WordPress based photography site has been blacklisted by Google!”

“Help, my WordPress based photography site has been hacked by someone and won’t work!”

If any of the these statements apply to you, then this is a post for you.

[alert color=”red” icon=””]Disclaimer: Though this post is for photography related websites hosted on WordPress, much of what I’ve detailed here is applicable to really any kind of WordPress driven blog. So even if you aren’t a photographer – but you own a website – this is still applicable to you!.[/alert]

Preface

My wedding photography website (this one, http://www.arjunkarthaphotography.com) was infected by “malware” a couple of weeks ago. I consider myself moderately skilled when it comes to web tech – and this turned out to be a something I had never encountered before. What followed was a very frustrating experience that had me learn more about how websites work than I care to know. What was worse, my website had a big RED warning sign on the front page (that prevented anyone from getting in) which looked decidedly scary. My website traffic went down to zero almost overnight. As a result of this the enquiries stopped and I started losing potential business. All in all my website went through various stages of health troubles for a little over two and a half weeks – which literally translates into thousands of potential leads lost (on average I receive around 15-20k visitors a month). I (and other professionals like me) depend on my website as a major pillar in showcasing my work to potential clients, and not having it around was like trying to go upstream in a canoe without a paddle. I’m going to start this post with what happened, and some of things I did to fix it If you’re a photographer, a blogger or anyone with a WordPress driven website, and whether you’re infected yet or not – security is something you need to learn. I hope this post helps! 

What happened 

On the 23rd of September, 2014 I woke up one morning to read this:

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I dismissed it for a bug and didn’t’ really pay much attention to it – until I checked the website and found this horrible screen of death:

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I immediately dropped everything else and tried accessing the website from a couple of other computers (and called a few friends in different cities to try too) and it seemed pretty clear that the ban on the website was global. The resources provided by Google soon proved ovewhelming (Google: you seriously need to dumb down your “help” pages). After a couple of hours of research, it seemed there were two possible things that could have happened:

Scenario 1: Someone was deliberately messing with me. Somebody with enough tech skills (or more than me at the very least) had managed to find some sort of loophole in the website and had messed things up with the deliberate intent of making the site go down (or worse, harm my SEO and Page Rank standings)

Scenario 2: An automated attack of some sort had happened – a bot roaming the internet had found the website, found a security loophole – and carried out some sort of hack which benefited the creator of the bot in some fashion. How, I don’t really know – but I believe this happens. 

Whatever it was, it needed fixing. I restored the website from a backup, and applied to Google for the ban to be lifted. It was, only to be back the next day. I should have figured that whatever channel the attacker had used to compromise the site would still be open, so that really wasn’t very smart and was a fairly quickfix solution. I tried a variety of freemium tools to try and fix it (malware scanners, plugins that supposedly “harden” the website and so on and so forth) but nothing really worked. This went on for nearly two weeks – where I’d manage to clean the website – only to have it go down again. This took up a substantial amount of my time, which is really something I don’t have much of. I’d have to suspend actual “work” to tend to fixing the website – and in the process I’m glad to say I’ve learnt a lot. All-in-all, here are my recommendations in case you find yourself in the same scenario – or if you want to protect yourself in the best way possible.

How to recover from a malware infection or a hacked WordPress install 

Honestly, I don’t think anything short of government level security (and I’m talking snipers and SWAT teams here) will really keep out a determined enemy. Realistically though I’d imagine though that my poor ‘ol website isn’t worthy for an enemy to spend time and resources to do damage to. I’m assuming you don’t have state secrets locked away in your website either, else I’d really recommend you stop reading this and hire an expert! 

1. Are you really infected? Determine the level of damage. Here are a couple of ways you can do it: 

Copy paste this URL and change the last bit where is says “site=arjunkarthaphotography.com” to “site=yourswebsite.com”

[box title=””]http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=arjunkarthaphotography.com [/box]

2. If you are infected, realise you’re screwed. These type of things are really maleficent, and from the way I understand it – once a website is deemed vulnerable, it instantly comes under attack from other malware-oriented attackers too. You need to clean out your website fast. Double check the state of the infection by using the (free) Sucuri site checker: http://sitecheck.sucuri.net/

3. You now need to clean out your website, and FAST. Dealing with malware manually is way beyond my comprehension level, but I believe that if you’re sufficiently skilled, you can go through all the lines of code to find the infected bits and remove them one-by-one. I neither had the time or inclination to do that – so I highly recommend getting an expert to do it for you. I recommend sucuri.net – they really seem to know what they’re doing, and on top of that – I am absolutely blown away by their fantastic customer service. You can choose an appropriate plan for you from their pricing page here: http://sucuri.net/website-antivirus/signup

4. You have to also realise that security is YOUR problem. Services like sucuri.net – though fantastic – will only CLEAN it up for you. You still have to find the source of the infection and deal with it. I am really not sure what the source of my problems were, because I did a lot of things – one of which seemed to have worked. There are several things you can consider:

a. Do you have multiple websites? If yes, are they co-hosted? (In other words, do you have a single FTP access to all of them?) For example, are they all located in /httpdocs/yourwebsitename(s) or some such path? If so, a malware infection in one can jump to ALL of them which is going to cost you a pretty penny. You need to invest in having them sandboxed from each other so that one infection doesn’t result in ALL your websites going on. (On an aside, yes – ALL my websites subsequently went down. Some of the websites I had co-located were arjunkartha.com (my commercial photography work), food-dee-dum.com (PK’s food blog), praerakartha.com (PK’s commercial portfolio) and a couple of others.

b. Hide your admin panel. (yourwebsite.com/wp-admin shouldn’t be accessible. Plugins like WordPress better security will help.

c. Harden your WordPress Installation. This means you need to make certain core directories within WordPress non-executable by 3rd parties, as well as protect your htaccess file. Plugins like WordPress WordFence will help.

5. This should probably be further up the list, but change ALL your passwords. And yes, make them unique. Use cryptographically secure passwords (at least 15 characters with random letters and special characters to make them more robust). Remember, when I say ALL your passwords – I also mean your database password, your server admin password, your host’s admin panel password and last and not the least, your WordPress password. There are a lot of online password manager tools that you can use – Lastpass is my favourite.

6. BACKUP! This seems intuitive, but it’s something that I find really challenging on a day-to-day basis. There are broadly two things you need to backup – your wordpress database, and your wordpress /wp-content folder. There are various backup plugins (some free, some not so free) that do a decent job of this. BackWPup is a good choice – and offers a plethora of choices on where to store your backup. DO NOT store your backup on the same server where your website stays – that nullifies having the backup in the first place. You can save your backup on Dropbox (which makes sense) – but if you live in India like me, or have archaic download limits set by your ISP (don’t get me started) this can create havok with your internet bill. I’m still trying to figure out what the best way to do this is.

7. Consider a website firewall. This is a service that will scan EVERYONE who visits your website to check if they mean to do you harm, and hopefully only let the genuine users through. You’ll have to change your DNS settings to send visitors to the firewall first, and then to your website. I recommend using the Sucuri Website Firewall – I had initially feared that this would slow the website down by adding another link to the chain, but thankfully Sucuri works really fast.

8. Get your webhost involved. Submit a ticket that you’re down with malware and see if they can help. I use MediaTemple’s excellent hosting services and their customer support is second to none. MediaTemple has a malware removal service, and I’m sure your host will too. Remember, webhosts don’t like websites with Malware either, and may decide that hosting you is a violation of the terms of service if you don’t clean it out quickly. 

9. Last but not the least, KEEP EVERYTHING UP TO DATE! Attackers use security holes in plugins and the WordPress Core files to get inside – making sure that everything is up to date really helps keep people out. 

I’m currently limping back to life – I’m not too sure the extent to which the damage has caused my SEO and PageRank to suffer (I know for a fact I’m not performing as well as I once was for certain keywords), and I really hope things come back to normal soon. 

Do you have anything to add, or any observations of your own? Say so in the comments, or feel free to get in touch with me!  

PS: Was my website intentionally attacked by someone? In the end we’ll never know – but rest assured, I have my suspicions. Cyber security and laws get stronger by the day – and if you’re the person who is behind all this, remember that what goes around comes around. 

PPS: Cyber attacks are VERY real. I was shocked when I discovered just how much. All websites – this one, and yours included – face literally hundreds of attacks every day. It just takes one to get through to screw with your life. I’m a visual person, and here is one small snapshot (12-hour range) that shows you just how many no-do-gooders can actually try and screw with you in TWELVE HOURS! 

AKP-attack-chart

 

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The APEX – Arjun Kartha Photography Wedding Photography Workshop

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Indian Wedding Photography Workshop

Wedding Photography in India has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years and as an industry has transformed from being predominantly traditional posed photography to highly creative contemporary candid styles of wedding photography. Good wedding photographers are in high demand nowadays, with couples wanting to invest in high quality wedding memories and albums that will last them a lifetime. Wedding photography today is a very aspirational career opportunity – so if you’re an amateur or semi-professional photographer looking to start shooting weddings, this is the workshop for you!

 

workshop-posterThe Apex Wedding Photography Workshop by Arjun Kartha – 25 & 26 Oct 2014

Cost: INR 10,000

Duration: Two days – 25-26 Oct 2014

Status: Registrations Open!! 

In collaboration with APEX – The Academy for Photographic Excellence, I’d like to  introduce a one-of-a-kind wedding photography workshop; over the course of two days you will be part of an amazing, fun and inspirational event where Arjun will share all his experience shooting weddings all over India and abroad. The course will broadly cover:

 

 

  • Wedding Photography in India – origins, trends and styles associated with the industry
  • What does it take to shoot a wedding? Gear needed, and how you can gain experience
  • Working with off-camera lights, and how to use minimal lighting to gain phenomenal results
  • Two separate live shoots with models with individual shooting time per participant with hands on coaching by Arjun
  • Working with a couple – and how to ace a couple shoot
  • Post production and workflow basics – how to go from thousands of photos to a carefully curated story
  • Album design and production – telling the story

 Class sizes are limited – so register early!

 

Who should attend, and what you can expect to learn:

The workshop is open to all photographers! If you’ve never shot a wedding, or have been toying with the thought of wedding photography as an alternate career, this is a must-attend for you. Over the course of the two day workshop, you will learn about the fundamentals of shooting a wedding and understand the rigor and effort it takes to successfully create a wedding story. You will understand that wedding photography can be one of the most strenuous and challenging genres of photography – and why you need to have a solid foundation in the principles of photography to be able own the responsibility of shooting the most important day in someone’s life!

About Arjun Kartha

Arjun Kartha is a ‘non-wedding’ wedding photographer with a candid, contemporary and off-beat approach to shooting Indian marriages. Along with his wife Praerna, they typically work as a husband-wife team, and are pioneers of the fledgling candid wedding photography genre in India. With a penchant for making “fun” photos, they specialise in create stories using a blend of photojournalistic and candid photography – and in doing so, create behind-the-scenes memories that will last a lifetime. Arjun is a winner of the Indian Wedding Photographer of the Year 2011 award, and a proud member of Fearless Photographers and the Wedding Photojournalist Association (WPJA) – two of the most elite associations in the world that recognises excellence in wedding photography. 

 Registration Procedure

Registration will be via APEX. Please call Jenny  (working hours, Mon-Fri) at 011-41669520 or 011-46015225 or write to her at [email protected] for registering and other details.

 Pre-requisites:

  • A basic understanding of photography along with a keen sense for composition and “capturing the moment”
  • A D-SLR by any brand with the capability of changing lenses
  • A laptop for editing photos
  • Ideally a strobe / flash head (an external flash that you can mount on your camera)
  • Any post-production software installed on your laptop, preferably Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop
  • Extra batteries, memory cards and enough storage space on your laptop
  • A mode of transport (car/bike) to be able to travel from APEX, Vasant Vihar to outdoor shoot locations

 

FAQs

Q: I don’t own a DSLR. Can I still attend the workshop?

A: I would seriously recommend having your own camera for the workshop. If you do not own one at the moment, there are various rental options available in New Delhi. Future Forward is a good place to start.

Q: I don’t own a laptop. Can I still attend the workshop?

A: As above, photography is all about a workflow – and learning how to smoothly transition from the camera to post production is an important part of what you need to learn

Q: I don’t have a car / bike – Can I still attend the workshop?

A: You need to be able to get to APEX at the right time and travel to/fro the college to the shoot location. All shoots will start SHARP on time – so you can try and ask any of the other participants for a ride, but do so at your own risk.

Q: I am not from Delhi and will be coming only for the workshop. Is stay included?

A: Unfortunately not! You will need to make your own staying and travel arrangements to APEX, Vasant Vihar and to/from the outdoor shoot locations

Q: Will I get the opportunity to shoot with the models?

A: Yes! All course participants will get a chance to shoot solo with the models who will simulate a real couple – while being guided by Arjun

Q: Can I use the images to build by portfolio?

A: Technically, yes. Any images shot by you are your own property and can be used to build your portfolio. To be fair though, you should mention that the images are simulated are aren’t a real couple.

For more information, please leave a comment below or get in touch by writing in to [email protected] I look forward to seeing you there!  

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5 ways to deal with negative feedback as a photographer

Negative feedback.

It happens; No matter how good a photographer you are, it’s bound to happen at some point or the other. It could happen in the most innocuous of ways, like a random follower posting criticism on something you’ve just uploaded on your Facebook page – or in the most serious of ways – which is an unhappy client.

As a photographer, I put in my heart and soul into what I do. Being a commercial photographer, I get paid to take photos. It could be photos of weddings, of food, of a product or anything else a client needs shot. Whatever be the subject matter, I’m obsessed with making that image as perfect as it can be at that point in space and time. It’s just how we do it – unless you love taking pictures, it’s just not going to be fulfilling. Once I’ve made a picture – I’m proud of it. And that’s where it starts getting tricky: most of the work I do is commissioned work. Though I’m getting paid; it’s not the cheque in the bank that results in creative fulfilment. It’s a happy client. A client who takes one look at the final image and is blown away is worth more than a client who pays me triple my fees but makes no comment on the final product. It’s just how it is; appreciation drives satisfaction.

This cycle works well most of the time, until the day it happens: an unhappy client. This always makes my world come crashing down: it preys on mind, gives rise to all sorts of dark and unhappy thoughts. Every fibre in my body wants to blame the client for not being “educated” enough; or “sophisticated” enough to appreciate good art when they see it. Very quickly I go from angry to depressed; and start questioning my own skill – and whether I’m actually good enough to go around handing someone an invoice for work that I do.

When this happens, it’s important to shake it off – and remember that this is a professional transaction. I started my career as an advertising professional, and heart of hearts I think I’ve always been a client servicing person. A satisfied client is important to me. In my agency days, I had to sell the art director’s work. Today, as a photographer – it’s my own work (and that much more personal).

So, if you’re a photographer – or any sort of service provider, here are five things you need to examine if you find yourself with an unhappy client:

1. Take a step back, and assess WHAT the problem is

Many times, I’ve found that clients have trouble articulating exactly what it is that they feel. Maybe they’ve never really been exposed to the creative industry, and find it hard to sum up their feelings into constructive and bullet-point based critique. Shrug off your disappointment, and find out what the problem is? Many times I’ve found that when I actually start to listen, I find that the problem could be something very minor; and in some cases, something that I wasn’t responsible for at all!

2. Is it justified?

Hard as it may be, once you understand the problem – there are times when you realise that the client is right. You could interpreted the brief completely wrong. If your client is a bride, you could have given her what you thought were ten stunning portrait photos. However, every bride views herself differently – and she may not be fully satisfied with them. Work with her to find pictures that SHE loves, and and you can shake hands and have a fully satisfied customer on your hands. If your client is a brand manager, you may have photographed the product against it’s core brand messaging – even though your photograph is technically brilliant. Once you’ve understood what and where the problem is, you can then start to move forward to address it. Speaking of which…

A happy bride will love you for going the extra mile.

A happy bride will love you for going the extra mile.

3. Is it fixable?

Now comes the tricky part. Once you’ve understood what the problem is, you can decide what course of action you want to take. One of BIGGEST problems I always face is clients who view the images on a PC (or non calibrated monitor) and see all sorts of weird colours – and naturally freak out. The dissatisfaction usually is articulated as “the photos don’t look good” instead of “the magentas look green!”. Once I understand that they’re looking at the images all wrong, I quickly send them a proof print (or invite them over to have a look at the images on my screen) – and bingo! Unhappy client to sheepish client just like that!

Sometimes though, the problem goes deeper than that. When you’re shooting a wedding, if the couple don’t instantly fall in love with the body of work, things can start snowballing from there. One problem can turn into ten, and suddenly you’ll find yourself firefighting on multiple fronts.

4. Talk it out – and try and find a solution

If the problem wasn’t instantly fixable, and you’ve reached this stage – then you’re in a serious situation. The client isn’t happy, and there seems to be fundamental problems with the assignment. At this point, it’s important to put on your best professional face, be friendly and proactive, and offer the BEST form of after-sales service possible. This can help keeping the situation in hand, and making sure the client feels that you’re taking them seriously and are not fighting them on it. Possible solutions could involve reshooting the work, doing it in a completely different manner or working with different partners or assistants who may be key in the shoot.

This can get particularly tricky if you’ve shot a wedding; because there can be absolutely no scope of “shooting” it again. From experience, it can help to go back to all the original RAW files – and work with the bride with those. Surprisingly, in some cases – images that you may have originally rejected could work wonders with the bride, and could be just what she wanted!

Many times, what seemed like a huge issue could boil down to simple colour correction!

Many times, what seemed like a huge issue could boil down to simple colour correction!

5. Dealing with an unreasonable client, and learning where to draw the line 

This is where things start getting ugly. If you’ve done everything in your power (and gone beyond the call of duty) to ensure customer satisfaction – but are still left with a disgruntled client, it’s time to start planning where you want to draw the line. It’s very rare, but sometimes a person who seemed perfectly reasonable before the assignment turns into a whole different person altogether right after; and will refuse to be pacified, come what may. Again very rarely, dissatisfaction may be a front to avoid paying the bill; or it may be from lack of expertise in evaluating creative work; sometimes there maybe too many people involved in the approval process, and that too many contradicting voices screw up the entire job.

There is no real rulebook on what you should do at this point. It’s important to document for your records what all has happened so far – type up an e-mail that lists out all the various edits / work / reshoots that you’ve done to try and complete the job. Be clear that there will not be any further changes or edits unless you’re commissioned to do it again.

Whatever happens, remember: all of this is PRIVATE! It’s between you and the client. Under no circumstances post about this on social media, and expect your followers to sympathise with you. If the customer posts about it on either their or your social media channels, refrain from getting into a long drawn out passionate war of words. Be polite, offer all possible assistance – and request that it be discussed face to face instead of in public. Take my word for it; leave ego out in the parking lot. There is nothing to be gained by arguing or debating in public. You’re hurting your own brand value; potential clients WILL notice, and regardless of how justified you were, or how right you were – they will think twice before becoming associated with you.

Well, that’s about it! I do hope that none of you ever have to go through all of this. If you do find yourself stuck with a dissatisfied client, take my advice – be professional, and hope for the best!

Let me know how it went using the comments below.

(Attribution: Blog cover photo (c) theodore99)

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Why become a wedding photographer?

This morning, Sunday the 4th of May, the ever factual and in-depth Economic Times ran an article on Wedding Photography in India. The reporter had called me a week or so ago to record a few facts, and we had an interesting fifteen minute conversation where I told him all I knew about the industry – as it existed in India. He must have checked his facts, because as I read the article today – I noted that he had also quoted a couple of other wedding photographers in India – most of whom I either know personally – or whom I know by their work.

The article was titled “Candid wedding photography proves lucrative and creatively fulfilling for lensmen“. This headline was supported by a slew of facts and numbers – all of which make wedding photography seem very, very (VERY!) attractive indeed as an industry to be in. As i was going through it, I couldn’t help but imagine how many people in India today would have been inspired to leave their regular nine-to-five desk jobs and take up wedding photography as a profession. After all, it seems easy. Buy a camera – shoot a couple of friends or family weddings – and hey presto, you’re earning in lakhs. You’re travelling to fantastic destinations. You’re partying with the stars!  

To support all of this, some of the photographers interviewed have a classic “left well paying jobs, took up their passion” ring to it. Hey, I’m guilty too! I left my well paying (and well fought for) job with IBM to do full time wedding photography. So if I can do it – and a lot of other people seem to be doing it – why can’t you? 

So, should you leave your regular / full time job to take up wedding photography?

You certainly should. But before you do, you owe it to yourself to think it through. Here are a couple of tips I’ll leave you with if you want to switch careers and take up full time wedding photography.

1. Do it for the right reasons:

If you’ve spent your whole life in IT, or banking…or any other sector like that, you’ve probably put in years of hard work reaching where you are. By switching careers, you’re losing ALL of that. You’re literally going all the way down the ladder and starting anew. Do you really want to sacrifice all the work you’ve put in to build your corporate career? You may have had a bad day, a bad week…or even a bad year, but you owe it to yourself to stick it out, and not jump ship without thinking it through.

2. Where is the the money really?

Today’s article in the Economic Times paints a very rosy picture about how much it’s potentially possible to earn via wedding photography. Remember – these numbers represent the very tip of the iceberg. While wedding photography can offer attractive renumeration, there are hundreds of costs that are hidden behind the scenes that nobody will tell you about. In addition, because of the perceived earning potential, there are now thousands of photographers who’ve decided that they want in. If you’ve just started out, you’re going to be competing at the bottom of the pyramid, which can be a very hard field to play in. 

3. And, it’s NOT about the money:

I was teaching a class on wedding photography recently, and the first question I asked the group of 15-odd students was WHY they wanted to become wedding photographers. Predictably, more than half answered that it was because they wanted to earn lots of money. Wow. Wrong answer. Wedding photography is a calling. You should WANT to make beautiful images. Want to be a part of a very special day, every other day of your life! Want to be a part of something special. Something magical. And shoot it. And if you happen to make some money along the way, well…then you’re goddamn lucky. Becoming a wedding photography for the money is the worst reason of it all. 

4. It’s not all glamour: 

I recently saw this meme on wedding photography. I think this really sums it up:

wedding-photography-meme

5. It’s MUCH more work that you can imagine:

Weddings, especially in India – can be very VERY taxing. Imagine a day where you report for work at 7 in the morning to be in time for a morning pooja – and are on call, and working, till 5 in the morning – which is when the pandit finally announces it’s time to go home. Sound like fun? It is! But when you’re doing it every other day, there are times you can want to throw everything to the wind, go home – and go to sleep. 

There are many reasons why you should become a wedding photography. The most important one should always be that you WANT to. Not for the money. Not for the killing schedule. Not for the travel and the glamour. But for the fact that you want to make beautiful images, and you want to make two people feel very special indeed. 

Don’t become a wedding photographer for the wrong reasons. Questions? Ask away below! 

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5 Tips for Indian Wedding Photographers: How to ace a couple shoot!

Those of you who follow my posts know that I’m constantly fascinated by how Indian Wedding Photography has really come of age. One of my favourite people to have long animated conversations about the photography business in India is the owner of my small hole-in-the-wall camera shop. That particular gentleman has been in the photography business for donkeys years, and his network of photographers and knowledge of cameras and equipment makes for long conversations. This time, he was decidedly curious about how the wedding business is going on and what I had been up to. I summed it up and told him what I knew. During the conversation he told me that his sales to non-mainstream photographers had decidedly increased, and how he know of many fashion and advertising photographers who are now ALSO shooting weddings!

With so much new talent now trying their hands at wedding photography, it’s important to become really good at the fundamentals. One trend in wedding photography here in India that is now increasingly becoming popular is the “pre-wedding” shoot. Also known as a couple shoot or an engagement shoot. Some variations of this also include a “save-the-date” shoot – where a couple meets the photographer in advance and does a sitting wherein the output will be something that they can share with friends and family to..well..save the date!

So if you’re a wedding photographer or even a couple about to get a shoot done – here are some quick tips that will help you ace your pre-wedding shoot:

TIP # 1:  Find a story

This is the number one piece of advice I can give you. A mistake a lot of new wedding photographers make is assuming that the pre-wedding shoot is just an opportunity to take the couple to an interesting location, come up with a bunch of poses and hey-presto, you’re done. Chances are that you’ll come up with with a bunch of nice pictures…but to truly make the difference between a photo that is 95% there, and a photo that is a 100% – is to give it soul. And the way to give it soul is to find a story – or a connection – that the couple will identify with.

This connection may be something that only you and the couple know of – but it’s your duty as the chosen photographer to find it. Once you do, you’ll be able to create a series of photos that build on memories that are special to the couple – and that’s what will make that photo special to them.

Anubha + Saahil. During their long courtship, they used to visit India Gate and go for long walks around Rajpath and Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. I wanted to recreate some of the magic they found there.

Anubha + Saahil. During their long courtship, they used to visit India Gate and go for long walks around Rajpath and Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi. I wanted to recreate some of the magic they found there.

TIP # 2:  Take your time

One of the mistakes a lot of photographers who are used to working with models make when they first start shooting weddings is expecting the couple to emote they way he or she wants right from the start. Remember – regular people getting married are probably as conscious of getting their picture taken as the next person. This consciousness can manifest itself in various forms – nervousness, hesitation and awkward poses. I should know – I hate getting my picture taken! One of the reasons I chose to become a photographer was so that I would be safe behind the camera instead of being in front of it! I’ve grown to realise that the first fifteen minutes on average of any session I conduct goes purely in making my subjects comfortable in front of the camera. I try and shorten this period by getting to know them better, having informal conversations about ANYTHING but the camera, but still shooting all the time as they talk. This makes them gradually more and more comfortable, until you reach a point where you can actually start getting your moneyshots.

Being a photographer is a little like being a doctor — you need to have a real good bedside manner! I’ve found that being friendly, casual and totally non-demanding works fairly well, and couples ease into the flow of things.

Sometimes it's easy to start off with simple things like having fun on a swing!

Sometimes it’s easy to start off with simple things like having fun on a swing!

Tip # 3: Plan, plan and plan some more!

A lot of new Indian Wedding Photographers walk into a couple shoot thinking that they’ve picked the perfect location – and the rest will take care of itself. While this can be true if you’re lucky – it’s nice to have thought up of a few concepts before you show up. Most of the time, I’ve already formed a vivid idea of the kind of picture I’m looking for…and I’ve already arranged for the props that I would need to make that shot possible. Some props need careful planning…especially if it’s something that you need to create your story. Props can add a lot of fun and life to your photos – and it’s something that gives your couple something to do while they’re in your session.

Some props could be spur of the moment ideas. In today's day of Facetime dates, who doesn't have an iPhone as part of their story?

Some props could be spur of the moment ideas. In today’s day of Facetime dates, who doesn’t have an iPhone as part of their story?

Tip # 4: Choose your venue carefully

This is a bit of a sensitive topic…but I try and avoid areas which have access to the general public for couple wedding photography. In most major cities in India (with probably the exception of Mumbai) any activity that involves a camera and some sort of shoot attracts a lot of unwanted attention. In many cases, the locals start asking questions and (in rare cases) start providing opinions about what should and shouldn’t be done. While this doesn’t matter much to you as a photographer, it can start putting a little stress on the couple – and they probably wouldn’t be as natural as they would’ve been had there been nobody around. For this reason, I try and find spaces which are private or semi-private – or if the story calls for it, spaces that are more upmarket than not. This is purely cautionary – chances are that you may be able to pull off the shoot in the middle of a crowded baazar if need be without any untoward incidents, but it’s a risk you’ll have to take.

Shooting in a baazar can be fun too!

Shooting in a baazar can be fun too!

Tip # 5: Be aware of body language, and know some basic poses and how to direct the shot

You may have found the perfect story, the perfect location and the perfect time of the day. Remember – people on average have been conditioned through years and years of routine to look directly at, and then smile at the camera while someone yells CHEESE. I’m fairly confident that as a “candid wedding photographer” – you don’t want that. This calls for a certain amount of direction – and while you want your shots to look natural, people need to be given a certain script to act out. Think of a play – the director gives his actors various cues on which they need to emote. Arranging a couple shoot is something like that – be decisive about what you want, and be willing to demonstrate how you want it done.

Additional tip: Be acutely aware of the comfort levels of your couple. Some are quite happy being affectionate in public, and some may not. You don’t want to force them to do something that they normally wouldn’t do – that just wouldn’t be natural, and it wouldn’t be a memory they want – regardless of how good the photo looks. Make sure they’re always in their comfort zone – that makes the best photos!

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You don’t want your couple to “pose”. EVER. But you do want do give them a starting point!

And that’s it! Five simple tips — but follow them, and you’ll soon be acing your couple wedding photography and generating some very happy customers indeed!

Questions? Have a tip of your own? Leave it in the comments below or get in touch!