10 years ago, I distanced myself from wedding photography.

I wanted to express feelings, but people were distracted by looks.

“Which place is nicer for photoshoot?”
“What dress should I wear?”
“Should I do this pose?”
“When should I smile?”

To every such question, I want to say, it doesn’t matter! You are not defined by how you look on the outside. But I can’t reply like this. Most people don’t get it. Even photographers.

It seems, to gain mass appeal, it is necessary to first attract people with looks. Stunning places. Pretty faces. Or, just find a way to look different.

I felt left out and alone.

That was 10 years ago. Is it any different now?

Yesterday, in a little workshop for couples getting married, I tried to talk about feelings that make a photograph timeless.

Silly me.

Here, with me, were young, beautiful people living a dream, right now! Who am I to talk about “timeless”? About reality? About emotions they have yet to experience? Who am I to say a beautiful, honest portrait is more meaningful than a glorious shot of them in a dream location?

It was dumb of me to talk about the intrinsic value of a portrait. It’s like telling your kids that eating ice-cream every day gives them diabetes.

10 years on, nothing seemed to have changed with wedding photography. In fact, I feel even more distanced now. But in a weirdly positive way, I realised how much I have matured as an artist and a person.

Time away from weddings have brought me to a quieter place, rich with a very different people. People who’ve experienced life beyond the romantic dream, a life of reality, of real joy, sadness, loss, and love. People holding on to memories that are fading as fast as their wrinkles are deepening.

People who once held their portraits in their hands and said to me, “I have never, ever felt so beautiful.”

While I once felt angst and loneliness, now I feel an urge to develop a good voice. Surely, there must be people who’ll listen, even if it’s a small audience, even if I have to speak in the noisy wedding market.

I just need to say it better.