13 Aug 2013

The Author

Andy Lim got started in photography after leaving design college, and has given several public talks on the subject of photography. SimpleSLR Workshops Photography workshops from beginners to advanced levels. SimpleSLR Guides Author of best-selling e-book series. Photography Tips Author of useful and practical tips on GoodPhotography.info website. Emotion in Pictures Accomplished professional wedding photographer. His brand attracts clients worldwide with his unique flavor of wedding and portrait photography.


Photographing Weddings with Multi Cultural Ceremonies: Indian Weddings

Multicultural weddings are common in Malaysia, where I live. In my experience of photographing many different types of wedding ceremonies, one of my favorite types of cultural wedding ceremonies are Hindu or Indian wedding ceremonies.


Indian Wedding Ceremony Photography Tips

  1. Visit the venue beforehand to scout out good locations to position yourself in, evaluate lighting conditions and decide if additional lighting is required. The main ceremony at Hindu weddings typically take place at a manavarai or mandap, a four-pillared stage.
  2. Know the sequence of the wedding ceremony, so that you can anticipate what will happen next and be ready for it when it does.
  3. Get to know the family of the bride and groom, so that you know who the important people are. This allows you to take more pictures of them, and be especially alert when significant events occur.
  4. Ask the bride and groom if they would be able to announce to their guests that there will be professional photographers at the ceremony. This is to prevent well-meaning but over-enthusiastic guests with cameras from blocking the photographers.
  5. If you are unfamiliar with the customs, ask the bride and groom to give you a run-through so that you are aware which rites are especially significant. Watch out also for rules of attire. For example, a photographer at a Sikh temple is required to wear a bandanna-like head covering of sorts. You are also required to remove your shoes before entering Hindu temples .


Indian Wedding Photography

Indian weddings are colorful and festive events, to say the least. Did you know that there are a number of different types of Indian wedding ceremonies? Depending on where they originated, the Indian community has distinctions in how their wedding ceremonies are conducted.


Malayalee Hindu Weddings

Malayalee Weddings tend to be shorter in duration and simpler, with fewer ceremonies.


Groom praying with his tholan (best man)



Thalam girls in Kerala Sarees, ready to escort the bride into the wedding hall



Bride and groom at the manavarai



Together with family at the manavarai



Tamil Hindu Weddings

Tamil weddings are the most common here in Malaysia. One of the most significant rituals is of the groom tying the ‘thali’ or ‘mangalsutra’, a gold necklace around the bride’s neck, to officially declare their status as husband and wife.


Bride cupping flower petals during one of the ceremonies



Priest ties a string onto bride’s wrist



Tying of the thali



Groom prepares to put a ring on bride’s feet



Prayers at the temple



Ceylonese (Sri Lankan Tamil) Hindu Weddings

Ponnurukku is a gold melting ceremony conducted a few days before the wedding proper. The bride is usually not present at this ceremony, as the bride and groom are not supposed to meet until the wedding day.


Ponnurukku the gold melting ceremony


The Ceylonese Wedding Ceremony can be recognized by a white cloth laid before the groom who then walks over it during his procession to the temple hall.


Bride enters the wedding hall, escorted by her entourage



Family and friends bless the couple



Bride and groom at the manavarai



Bride and groom at the manavarai



Bride and groom during the walk around the manavarai



Punjabi Sikh Weddings

Sangeet is a dinner party held before the wedding. Plenty of song and dance to be expected.


Sangeet celebration before a Punjabi wedding



Sangeet celebration before a Punjabi wedding


Mehndi is where henna is applied on the bride’s hands and feet. This henna, when dried, forms a beautiful pattern. Mehndi is common across the various Indian cultures, so you will come across it in Sri Lankan weddings and Malayalee weddings too.


Sagri ceremony at a Sindhi wedding


Maiya is a Sikh pre-wedding ceremony where the bride and groom are blessed with turmeric powder and yogurt.


Maiya ceremony before a Punjabi wedding



Maiya ceremony before a Punjabi wedding


Anand Karaj is a Sikh wedding ceremony. This is the actual wedding ceremony, so it’s longer and is usually conducted at a gurdwara, or Sikh temple.


Groom enters the Anand Karaj ceremony at a Punjabi wedding



Bride at the Anand Karaj ceremony at a Punjabi wedding



At the Anand Karaj ceremony at a Punjabi wedding


Andy Lim is the principal photographer at Emotion in Pictures, a wedding and portrait photography studio in Malaysia. Author of the SimpleSLR Photography Guides, Andy has extensive experience photographing Indian Hindu weddings and other multicultural wedding ceremonies.

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  1. Thanks for sharing these photos. They bring back a lot of memories. You are so correct. There are so many stages it is a lot to consider and prepare for. There is so much work but so many more people to help with it. And, of course, since not everything happens on one day it all becomes possible rather than just overwhelming. And of course so many beautiful colours. Guess my question would be how do you manage to get such good lighting with so many people milling about inside and also outside in the bright sun under such varied circumstances, at least in those photos where there is not any cloth being held overhead as shade and perhaps as diffuser? and where the overhead cloth is, itself, brightly coloured how do you prevent it from lending a cast to your photos? All in all, impressive, socially and photographically.

    • Hi Pat, thanks for your kind words! The short answer to your question about lighting is simply to make sure your light is directional. Being able to control how your light falls on your subject in the direction that you want is the key to good pictures at a wedding, where lighting is unpredictable and varied. A good wedding photographer will be able to juggle available light and introduced light (eg. speedlights), using both to his/her advantage.

      Good question on the color cast. Usually the color cast happens when you direct your light source onto the colored surface and it bounces back onto your subject. In my examples, the direction of light was such that most of it illuminated the subjects from the front.

      I’ll be revealing my techniques for shooting wedding day ceremonies in my upcoming lighting guide for weddings. Stay tuned for the launch on http://www.simpleslr.info !

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