Photos clicked by Siddharth Sharma are the kind you could stare at for hours. Such is the intimacy and beauty that oozes out from them. Having documented several celebrity weddings, including that of Alia and Ranbir Kapoor and Aprita and Kunal Rawal, his style incorporates a combination of composed, curated moments and raw, real emotion. The end result is honest, modern photographs that tell stories.
Sharma, founder of House On The Clouds, gets candid about the art of photographing weddings with a focus on romance, real emotions and lots of joy.
1. Your work is very distinctive. How did you get started as a wedding photographer?
I started photography while working in IT in the United States. Winters are very dark and boring there as it snows for three months. So I wanted to pick up a hobby to keep myself engaged. It began with self-portraits in my room and then graduated to conceptual photography. I shot my first wedding after I moved back to India and it was for a friend. Being a person who hated attending weddings, I discovered that if you have some task at hand, a wedding can be very interesting indeed.
2. What do you particularly like about photographing weddings?
The unpredictability within a scripted list of events is what fascinates me about weddings. On paper, all weddings are scripted and more or less follow the same schedule/tradition. But still, there is something new, something interesting, something fascinating — be it people, emotions, circumstances, mishaps. It’s like we know what we are getting into but we don’t know what we will get out of it — and this keeps us motivated and excited.
3. That’s a very interesting way of looking at weddings. How would you describe your style and approach?
My style has evolved over the past seven to eight years. It started from a raw photojournalistic approach and is now a more refined and polished editorial style of work built on top of the same photojournalist principles. Over the last eight years, I have travelled across several countries, experienced new cultures, met new people, and have absorbed bits and pieces from all these experiences to reach the aesthetics I have currently and hope this will keep on evolving. My approach on the other hand has remained more or less the same. I still try to shoot from the perspective of a close friend, not being too intrusive but also not being a complete stranger.
4. How do you prepare for a big wedding?
Part one is to be absolutely clear with what is happening and where, so we can avoid last-minute surprises to the extent possible. For this, wedding planners play a very crucial role and we work closely with them to ensure we do not miss anything. Since big weddings will need a big team to capture, so second is to make sure the team knows their respective roles and positions. Then comes the equipment.
5. Do celebrities look for a different outcome from their wedding photos than, well, let’s call them regular folk?
No, they don’t. From my experience, they are just like regular folks wanting very authentic and beautiful documentation of their wedding. It was the same with Alia and Ranbir, who chose to celebrate their coming together at home with their most loved ones. And to our pleasant surprise, it was as beautiful and comfortable as any other wedding. The same wholesome emotions and infinite, infusing love.
6. What are your favourite parts of the wedding day? Getting ready, the first look, the mehendi, party...
Honestly, it’s the getting ready part. Though we are not doing much at that time other than just waiting, this is the time when emotions and anxiety are at their peak and this results in some interesting outbreaks and situations.
7. What role do you play on the wedding day? Are you a stage director or an observer or a photojournalist?
Actually, a mix of everything. As a photojournalist, I do want to capture moments in their truest form, and as a fashion photographer, I want to ensure the bride and the groom and the family get timeless portraits.
8. What kind of camera equipment do you use? I’ve heard that you mix up your formats.
Before being a Canon ambassador, I was a Canon fan. It was my first camera and has remained my first choice throughout my professional journey. I use mirrorless bodies and when it comes to lenses, I normally shoot an entire wedding on a 24mm and a 35mm lens. I don’t like carrying a lot of lenses or equipment so I try to stay as light as possible.
9. If your next destination wedding was anywhere of your choosing, where would you go and why?
My absolute favourite destination for a wedding is home. Thanks to the pandemic, we got to shoot a lot of weddings at home: living rooms, balconies, and backyards. Especially for a film, home works much better because due to the close proximity, there is a free flow of emotions and reactions and a sense of belonging as you don’t have to worry about your guests and focus on the very reason why the wedding is happening.
10. Some couples want a photographer to be a fly on the wall; others want to exchange lots of ideas before and during the wedding. What works and what doesn’t?
Sharing ideas is always a good thing. It's a great starting point to establish an open communication channel between the couple and the photographer. But I also believe forcing ideas on a photographer is not sensible. Once you have selected a photographer you like, let them do their job and just trust them.
11. As a photographer, how do you stay ahead of the pack?
It’s a creative field and there is no such thing as ahead or behind or number one or number two. One client can love you to bits and the other cannot stand your work. It’s a very subjective profession like any other art form. We do what we believe in and wait for people who connect with our style of work to make us a part of their celebration. This is the only goal we chase.
12. How do you ensure that a couple's love story is a worthy and unique piece of art?
It’s not up to me to measure the worthiness of anyone’s love story. I believe every love story is worthy and I want to capture and present it in the best possible way. Yes, I do try to bring in some uniqueness to the storytelling so the end result can be very personal to the couple and not something which they find at every other wedding.
13. What do you find most challenging about wedding photography?
To be consistent in every wedding knowing very well that nothing is in our control.
14. Where do you see wedding photography heading in the next few years?
Wedding photography, in India especially, is evolving very fast, and not just photographers but couples also are evolving — they are becoming more independent decision-makers and want to try new things. It is going to be a very exciting decade for weddings and I think there will be a new breed of mad wedding photographers who will take the whole industry forward.
15. Other than photography, what are your other passions or hobbies?
During the pandemic, I picked up this keen interest in interior design. I have been reading a lot on this and seeing a lot of stuff online. Hopefully, I will be able to pursue this in some way in the near future.