Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Developing’ love story: The pitfalls of pre-wedding shoots

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Pre-wedding photo shoots are now the in thing among couples who love to shed their inhibitions for that picture-perfect moment they can freeze for eternity. Originally, such pre-shoots began as brief photo sessions with a wedding photographer approximately three to six months before the couple tied the knot. The idea then was to let the couple get used to being in front of the camera, build rapport with the photographer, and, of course, receive romantic-looking photographs ahead of the wedding. The trend has since morphed in just over three or four years, particularly in the metros. The accent now in on going for hot shots, with couples posing in stunning locales.
Today, over two dozen locations in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are prized for pre-wedding shoots. The photographers engaged charge anywhere between `15,000 and `30,000 or more per session. The most preferred locations include theme parks and spots in film cities.
Couples do prefer pre-wedding photo shoots in unique and picturesque settings to cement their love well before marriage. Despite the allure of pre-wedding festivities, pre-wedding shoots may come bundled with unexpected dangers, raising questions over the extravagant sessions before the marriage is solemnized.  Recent reports of couples facing waterfalls and surprise encounters with snakes suggest alarming and adventurous twist, as the case may be, to the pursuit of the perfect shot. The Pioneer’s Tanisha Saxena delves into the pitfalls of pre-wedding photoshoots. Conversations with photographers and their clients as well as lifestyle coaches shed light on the essentials of ensuring safe pre-wedding shoots and the need to balance them with cultural considerations.

Couples embarking on pre-wedding photo shoots often anticipate a blend of romance, adventure, and the creation of unforgettable moments. These experiences, however, can take unexpected turns, as witnessed in incidents across various locations. A couple in Chittorgarh faced the sheer force of Nature when caught in a waterfall, emphasizing the need for situational awareness during such ventures. In Jaipur, a viral video showcased a seemingly romantic twirl turning comically disastrous, highlighting the unpredictability inherent in these staged moments. Another couple near Rishikesh found themselves in a perilous situation, almost swept away by the Ganga’s rising waters during their shoot. These diverse encounters not only add a layer of unexpected excitement but also shed light on the challenges couples may encounter while trying to immortalize lovely moments of their togetherness in visually stunning ways. From Nature’s unpredictable elements to unexpected guests like snakes, these experiences underscore the importance of careful planning and safety measures in the pursuit of crafting cherished pre-wedding memories.

The rise of pre-wedding shoots
As couples explore unique ways to cement their love story, pre-wedding shoots are gaining ground. From picturesque locations to themed shoots, the possibilities seem endless. However, as the cultural landscape expanded, so did the potential for accidents, creating a need for caution.
Krishna from Hyderabad Film Studios opines: “The surge in popularity of pre-wedding shoots marks a cultural shift in contemporary weddings. Couples now embrace this trend as an opportunity to capture intimate moments before their big day, creating lasting memories and unique visual narratives. This phenomenon has evolved into an art form, with couples choosing beautiful locations, stylish outfits, and professional photographers to craft stunning images that reflect their love story. The rise of pre-wedding shoots not only adds a personal touch to wedding albums but also serves as a celebration of the couple’s journey towards matrimony, symbolizing the importance of cherishing moments leading up to the union.”
‘Operation’ not success
A few weeks ago, a controversy arose when a doctor and his fiancee held their pre-wedding shoot in a non-functional operation theater (OT) at a government hospital in Chitradurga district, Karnataka. The video of the shoot went viral on social media, showing the doctor performing ‘surgery’ on a patient, with the partner assisting. The staged operation, coupled with medical equipment, led to the doctor’s dismissal from service. Karnataka’s Health Minister condemned the incident, emphasizing that government hospitals were meant for healthcare, not personal activities. The incident highlights the downside of the growing trend pre-wedding shoots.

Hyderabad-based life coach Priya Rajiv Mohan highlights: “The incident of a pre-wedding shoot conducted in a non-functional operation theater, resulting in the dismissal of a doctor from service, underscores the trend of couples seeking unique and attention-grabbing concepts to make their pre-wedding shoots go viral and stand out on social media. In recent years, pre-wedding shoots have evolved from traditional setups to extravagant and sometimes unconventional scenarios.

Couples are increasingly opting for quaint and extraordinary locations, aiming to create memorable and shareable content. From exotic destinations to unusual themes, the emphasis has shifted from capturing romantic moments to creating visually stunning and often quirky narratives.”
Social media platforms like Instagram have played a significant role in driving this trend. Couples are not only seeking beautiful backdrops but also aiming for concepts that have the potential to go viral, garnering attention and admiration from a wider audience. This has led to a surge in demand for unique experiences, prompting couples to explore offbeat locations and themes that go beyond the norm.
The desire to create extraordinary experiences has extended beyond just the location. Couples are now incorporating intricate planning for styling, makeup, hair, and even activities during the shoot. The trend involves not only capturing moments but also crafting a narrative that tells a story and engages viewers. Ultimately, the quest for a viral and trendy pre-wedding shoot reflects the evolving nature of social media and its influence on shaping celebratory moments.
Couples are increasingly leveraging various platforms to share their love stories in unique and attention-grabbing ways, albeit with the need to balance creativity with social responsibility.
Manik Kaur, personal development coach, points out, “Apart from the potential dangers that may be encountered due to natural causes, there is this strange feeling that one gets when one looks at these ‘larger-than-life’ photo shoots. Most of the times, they seem like a mini-version of movie shots, which is rather pretentious and even involves the contriving of ‘candid’ moments. Sometimes, it also seems more like a display of wealth and rehearsed emotions just to impress your peers, family, relatives, or even society members and enjoy being ‘talked about’. There is this underlying rat race for exotic locations and innovative concepts where couples wish to be better and more creative than their contemporaries. Thanks to these new-age wedding planners, who are a powerful force in encouraging the same, people are adding fuel to the fire.”
She adds, “The end result is sadly ‘display window’ marriages that begin as early as the pre-wedding photo shoots! And perhaps also the reason why most couples are getting divorced or giving up on their marriages as reality hits them differently later on, which is way beyond the rosy shots and the paraphernalia around it. Personally, I also feel that while it is okay to document pre-wedding photos and moments, it would be a breath of fresh air to just keep it natural, free-flowing, and perhaps even private. However, to each his own, as long as it works for them.”
Photographer’s perspective
Photographers play a crucial role in shaping these shoots, facing pressure to create visually stunning content. This pressure can lead them to explore risky locations or setups, emphasizing the need to balance creativity with safety to avoid accidents during shoots.
Bhanu Pratap Singh Dakar, an Agra-based photographer and digital creator, notes the growing trend of pre-wedding shoots in India. Recently, he captured a pre-wedding video for a client from Hyderabad, highlighting the interest of south Indian individuals in exploring northern monuments, including the Taj Mahal. “Despite legal restrictions on professional photography at ASI monuments and the Taj Mahal being a mosque, creative routes are found. The photography ‘business’ is flourishing. Regarding safety, photographers prioritise caution, considering location-specific risks. Knowing the site thoroughly is crucial. Open communication between photographers and clients is emphasised to avoid misunderstandings. Discussing details helps alleviate last-minute panics; ensuring couples are adequately prepared for specific shots.”
While tragedies may occur, Bhanu believes in continuing to celebrate love stories.
Nitin, who owns Versairic Photography Studio in Bengaluru, says, “The demand for picture-perfect moments intensifies the pressure on photographers, driving them to take calculated risks; however, it is crucial for couples to understand the delicate equilibrium between creativity and safety. While couples seek magical visuals, photographers bear the responsibility of orchestrating these moments, walking the tightrope of creativity and safety, acutely aware of the potential risks that can accompany the pursuit of perfection.”
Props and their
unforeseen dangers
Props add flair to shoots, but seemingly harmless items can turn perilous. From fire-related accidents due to candles or fairy lights to injuries caused by poorly secured props, the allure of unique elements can overshadow potential risks, emphasizing the importance of considering prop safety.
Pre-wedding shoots, often filled with creativity and personalisation, can introduce various dangers when it comes to the props used. One significant concern is safety, particularly when incorporating elaborate or unconventional items. Props such as fireworks, smoke machines, or even large structures may pose risks if not handled properly. Fire hazards, respiratory issues from smoke, or physical accidents are potential dangers that can arise.
“We can enhance safety during shoots by diligently inspecting props for potential hazards, opting for flame-resistant materials, securing heavy items, and having fire extinguishers on hand. Clear communication with clients about safety guidelines is crucial, allowing us to balance creativity with well-being during the entire photography process,” asserts Pranay of Hyderabad Wedding Photography. He also distinguishes between how things differ when it comes to pre-wedding shoots on a set versus a shoot on live locations. He says, “Sets provide a controlled environment where factors like lighting, props, and equipment can be meticulously arranged and monitored. The conditions are often more predictable, allowing for better hazard management and prevention. This controlled setting facilitates a more structured approach to safety, with the ability to plan and implement safety measures with a high degree of precision.”
On the other hand, live locations introduce unpredictable elements, such as weather, pedestrians, or unexpected obstacles. “Safety planning at live locations needs to be more adaptable, considering the dynamic nature of outdoor or unfamiliar environments. Logistical challenges, such as accessibility and resource limitations, must be addressed to ensure a comprehensive safety strategy. The need for on-the-spot adjustments and a keen awareness of location-specific risks is paramount in ensuring the safety of everyone involved in the production,” emphasises Pranay.
Hailing from Gachibowli, Faraz and Sheeba got married in January, and they had their pre-wedding shoot on a set in one of the studios in the city. They shared, “In our pre-wedding shoot, the photographer asked us to stand on a wooden platform for a romantic shot. However, due to unclear instructions, we misunderstood and stepped on a different, unstable prop nearby. The photographer, not realizing the confusion, continued with the shoot, and unfortunately, the prop collapsed, leading to a minor injury.”
This incident highlighted how crucial it is for everyone to be on the same page during shoots, emphasising the need for precise communication to prevent such unforeseen accidents.

Financial analyst Ankit Anand adds another layer, stating: “While the demand for destination weddings and pre-wedding shoots continues to rise, it is crucial to note that opting for more budget-friendly options might come with its own set of risks. In scenarios where shoots are done with a lower budget, there is a potential for photographers to cut corners, leading to negligence in various aspects. This negligence could, unfortunately, increase the likelihood of accidents during the shooting process. It emphasises the importance of striking a balance between cost considerations and ensuring a safe and well-executed photographic experience.”

On the whole, while pre-wedding shoots offer a beautiful way to capture a couple’s ‘developing’ love story, caution is crucial. Balancing creativity with safety, choosing locations wisely, and fostering open communication can help prevent accidents, ensuring these shoots remain a joyful prelude to the wedding day rather than a source of unfortunate memories.
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