The Story of a Portrait
Everyone who knows me, knows how close I was to my Nani. She was my mother! Well, mother is my mother, but her mother was more of a mother to me than my mother could or would ever be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother, but I loved my nani much more…
She was born in Shekupura, Punjab (now in Pakistan) in 1928 in an affluent Sikh family. Got married in March 1947 to the most handsome man in the world. Not that she wasn’t a looker herself.
The Story of a Portrait!
Out of all the stories I heard from my Nani all my growing years; of her life growing up, of her siblings, of the trauma and tragedies of the partition, one story kept getting repeated every now and then. It was the story of a Portrait.
A few days into the wedding, the newly wed couple happened to visit Lahore and while walking around in the bazaar, my grandfather happened to spot a Studio. He asked my nani if she wanted to get a picture taken. The shy, awkward 19 year old immediately refused on the pretext of a ‘crumpled duppata’ and ‘mud covered shoes’. He insisted and my nani gave in to his insistence and went and got themselves a ‘Portrait’.
Over the years, as life happened, the picture was nowhere to be found, but in my nani’s stories.
Come 1st March 2001, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and was given 3 months. She passed away on the 28th of June 2001 and with her went the only person who I truly and unconditionally loved and who in return loved me like none ever can.
Few months later, I happened to visit my massi in Chandigarh. We were all sitting and remembering ‘Biji’ and suddenly out of nowhere, my massi handed over a beautiful portrait to me that clearly had seen years. I asked who the couple in that photograph was and my massi told me it was my Nana - Nani.
It was the same portrait that Nani kept talking about. I saw those muddy shoes and the crumpled dupatta but I didn’t, at first, see my Nani in that picture. I saw a shy and ravishing young girl with a man who looked nothing less than a greek god. It took me a while to realise that my nani didn’t always have wrinkles and grey hair, she was a young person once. I don’t think I have cried as much as I cried that day.
I got to see how my nani looked as a young girl, thanks to that Studio in the Bazaars of Lahore. Obviously no one today knows where that studio is or who that photographer was but he continues to live in this portrait. No one can ever take away his presence from it and thats the most beautiful thing about photography. You may live long or you may not. But you pictures will outlive you…..well, if done right that is… ;)
So my point is…We, the Wedding Photographers are NOT IMPORTANT!
What’s important is what we do and how much we are able to live up to the responsibility that our clients bestow upon us by hiring us to document their wedding.
We are the reason, for our couples grand or great grand kids to know how their Nana - Nani or Dada - Dadi looked when they were young. Think about it..isn’t that the a immensly satisfying feeling?
What we, as Wedding Photographers, have to realise and constantly tell ourselves is that, we have the power to create history and family heirloom for our clients.
Ok Hold On….Lets go back to that picture for a moment.
Does this picture mean the world and more to me, YES!
Does it matter, if its a “Candid shot” or a “Traditional photograph”……..HELL NO!!
We are ‘Wedding Photographers’, our Job demands us to shoot everything that happens at a wedding in our own unique way. I don’t get this ‘Candid Photographer’ and ‘Traditional Photographer” divide. I don’t see how one is more important than the other.
As a Wedding Photographer, we need to capture ‘Moments’, we need to take ‘Portraits’, we need to take ‘Behind the Scenes, we need to take ‘Group Pictures’ and everything else there may be. I don’t understand why some photographers consider it beneath them to take group pictures. I love taking group pictures, for one its a wonderful way of getting to know the guests and in return becoming a part of the celebrations.
I have been doing this for more than half a decade now and I truly feel I was born to do this. There is nothing that gives me more happiness and there is nothing else I would rather do.
I see a lot of young kids wanting to get into this thinking its ‘easy money’,….well, ask anyone who has been doing this for a while and they will tell you otherwise. Its for sure an easy to enter industry but you can only survive if you have an undying love for humanity, never ending fire to acquire knowledge of the art and craft of photography, a desire to continuously reinvent oneself, reasonable marketing acumen and above all, colossal heaps of patience.
By no means am I trying to preach, all I am trying to say is that this is a job that deserves to be done from the heart. Yes, money is important, charge as much as you can but lets not forget our responsibility.
This seasons, lets all give each our clients at least one photograph their grandkids will cherish all their lives.