5 Wedding Photographers Weigh In On Capturing The Perfect Moments

Your wedding will be the most dizzying, exciting time of your life — you’re going to meet more people in one night than you can remember, and they’ll all claim to somehow be related to you. There’s going to be hours of hair and makeup, and constant fussing, and more glittering kamdani all around you than you’ve ever seen before.

it’s going to be dizzying. 

For all the months of detailed, meticulous planning, each night will be a blur of people and flowers and shiny clothes. This is why picking the perfect photographer is of the utmost importance. By the end of your wedding week, once everything is wrapped up and the caterers have pulled the tent down, all you’ll have left of those few days are the pictures that were taken. The last thing you want is to put off looking for the right photographer and be stuck with someone you don’t see eye to eye with. A bad photographer will get your worst angles and oversaturate your pictures — the makeup you spent hours having applied will translate into clown work on camera. Meanwhile, a good photographer will capture the mood and essence of each event, and keep in mind the sentimentality of every family they work with. We interviewed our favourites and put together a list to make it easier for you.

Rabya Ahmed / 21 Poloroids

A Bit About The Photographer

Give us five facts about yourself. 

R: My name is Rabya Ahmed.

 I am 23 years old and live in Karachi, where I was born.

 I run a photography business called 21 Polaroids — which I named after my birthday. 21 seems to be my lucky number, and I have a weird obsession with instant film cameras.

 I am a Balochi-Punjabi hybrid and the only girl from both sides of my family to have chosen photography as a profession (and so far gotten away with it).

I’m a full-time wedding photographer.

Which country is number one on your bucket list to visit? 

R: I am obsessed with beaches, so much that I drag my friends to the beach every other weekend. If I had to pick one country it would be Indonesia, because Bali has my heart. 

Walk us through deciding to become a photographer – how’d that happen?

R: I was in my second semester when my brother decided we need a camera. I had been developing an interest in photography since I got the new iPhone on my 19th birthday (it was an iPhone 5c which has one of the best phone cameras I’ve ever used), so the new camera gave me more room to experiment. Although, what really drove me was my Instagram account; the excitement to create new content for my followers who really enjoyed and appreciated my “minimal aesthetic” edits. Eventually, I covered a couple of university events, which really made me rethink my career choice – I was already struggling with my social sciences degree. My then boyfriend (now husband) was my biggest support and helped me make this difficult decision, which I am now grateful for.

What was your exposure to photography, or the arts, growing up?

R: I think the earlier influence comes from my mother. I have pictures from the moment I was born, and I grew up getting pictures taken, and taking them on our film camera quite often. I think that was an important factor. I also have been more on the creative side than the technical side of things, and my mother really encouraged that in my siblings and I, so we’re all mostly on the artistic side.

What’s the five-year plan? What’s one thing you’d like to have done/achieved?

R: In all honesty, I never really thought my love for taking pictures would take me this far. I’ve covered enough events now to understand that this is what I was always meant to do, but I’m moving a little bit towards a newfound love of mine, which is food photography. I want to experiment with cameras, lighting and lenses until I reach a point where I’m able to make 21 Polaroids a known brand, not just for wedding photography, but also other styles of photography, which I haven’t experienced as much yet. That is something I look forward to having perfected in five years.

A Bit About The Job

Describe the wedding season in three words. 

R: Emotional, Colourful, Beautiful.

What was your first ‘official’ photography job?

R: I did my first official shoot as a Mehendi photographer for a friends sister. I still think it was one of the best events I’ve ever covered. 

What do you like most about your job?

R: I love how easy it is to form an emotional bond with every family that I work for. Every laugh, every emotional moment becomes personal for me. I love that. I love capturing all the raw emotions, the happiness, and the goodbyes. I feel lucky I get to experience so much happiness in my line of work. 

Weddings can naturally be a little chaotic. Does that make it difficult to shoot, or add to the excitement?

R: As hard as it is to believe, not all weddings are chaotic. I agree with you though, a little bit of chaos does add to the excitement, but I think it’s better to plan well —  these are some of the biggest days of your life. It helps us do our jobs more easily. 

Do you have a favourite event to shoot? (Mehendi, Nikkah, Shaadi, Valima)

R: I love nikkahs. They are so simple, sweet, and always make me happy-cry. 

Do you ever find wedding season monotonous to shoot? How do you overcome it?

R: Weddings are all mostly very similar, but it is important to understand what makes every couple, and even their families different, and try to capture that in picture form. 

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

R: Personally the biggest challenge for me was having no prior knowledge of photography. I had to practice for years to get to this point. Another obstacle as a wedding photographer is the lack of consistency. Although weddings happen all year round, it is easier to find events during wedding season. Another difficulty that I’ve faced is the cost of equipment. Cameras are expensive, and if you’re starting from scratch it is a slow process to try to collect all the perfect gear.

What about wedding photography sets it apart for you from other modes?

R: Wedding photography is one of the most challenging styles of photography to pursue. While covering events you only have one chance to capture the perfect shot of every moment — which also makes it the most rewarding.

What advice would you give to up and coming photographers? 

R: Always keep your camera ready. The more you use your camera, the better you will get. Practice is key, and it keeps your creative juices flowing. You never know when you might find that perfect shot! 

Mutahir Mahmood / O Shoot

A Bit About The Photographer

Give us five facts about yourself.

M: Love travelling.
A good breakfast makes my day.
Persistent.
A strong believer in hard work.
Love giving surprises.

Which country is number one on your bucket list to visit?

M: Cuba

Walk us through deciding to become a photographer – how’d that happen?

M: Traveling to different parts of Pakistan during college and as a work requirement exposed me to some beautiful, breathtaking parts of the country for the first time. I started to document my journey through my phone camera. And that’s how it all started. I had never imagined an entrepreneurial journey. Throughout my education in Karachi, Toronto and Lahore, I was trained to make a career in the corporate sector, starting with a brief stint in a bank followed by a brand managerial role in a leading multinational. Nevertheless, I’m very happy and grateful to achieve everything that O’Shoot currently stands for. I believe in Originality and hence O’riginal Shoots – The short version for that is O’Shoot!

What was your exposure to photography, or the arts, growing up?

M: My father was very artistic. He used to enjoy painting and sketching and singing. His favourite hobby was photography. Though he was not formally trained in any of the arts, it was a personal interest that we watched him nurture throughout our childhood. My sister attended IVSAA for Architecture and had an artistic flair. So yes, I would say my exposure to the arts started in early childhood.

What’s the five-year plan? What’s one thing you’d like to have done/achieved?

M: We are big believers in innovation and technology and would like to lead O’Shoot to be the pioneer in implementing technology for convenience, and adding innovative products to our service offering. Photography is a medium that has and will continue to change radically, and now the evolution of phone cameras offers wonderful opportunities. We see O’Shoot as a firm that will embrace technology, and changes, in the coming years with an innovative and unique product line. We recently concluded product testing on a brand new concept of our Digital Photobooth and officially rolled it out. At this point, let’s just say it’s going to be a major game changer!

A Bit About The Job

Describe the wedding season in three words.

M: Fulfilling, Hectic, Collaborative

What was your first ‘official’ photography job?

M: An extremely festive, colourful, and culturally rich Hindu wedding

What do you like most about your job?

M: Our philosophy is simple. 20 years from now, when you look at your wedding albums/photographs, they should still have a classic, elegant and timeless feel —  not to mention that WOW factor. Capturing moments that I know my clients will cherish forever.. that brings joy to us and makes our work so fulfilling. And that’s how we take photographs, in a pure, photojournalist style, capturing important moments in a candid documentary fashion while ensuring family group shots are captured as well, to preserve the style our forefathers are used to.

Weddings can naturally be a little chaotic. Does that make it difficult to shoot, or add to the excitement? 

M: There’s always a bit of both. Every shoot involves a simple theme, a simple concept and simple gup shup (chit chat) with the couple & their family members to get to know their likes/dislikes prior to the event, and that eventually reflects in the pictures we take! We realize how important this day is in the lives of the couple and their families, and try our best to blend in. We’re on our toes looking to capture the most natural moments.

Do you have a favourite event to shoot? (Mehendi, Nikkah, Shaadi, Valima)

M: Mehndis. We love colours.

Do you ever find wedding season monotonous to shoot? How do you overcome it?

M: The wedding scene has changed immensely. The decor, design and production that go into it now have never been seen or experienced before. Our designers are mostly architects and interior designers and the decor they produce is simply breathtaking. And this breaks the monotony — walking into an event to see what the designer has produced. We also try to stay fresh by introducing something new in the market. Our Selfie Mirror and now the Digital booth have been some of the exciting projects that keep our brand fresh and break the monotony of wedding season.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

M: There’s a serious dearth of professional, educated and trained photography firms in Karachi and these are the issues we addressed when we launched our firm 5 years ago.

What about wedding photography sets it apart for you from other modes?

M: Wedding photography is all about capturing moments and emotions. There is constant movement and we have to be alert with a high level of emotional intelligence to pick up the slightest nuances. Product, or fashion photography, is completely different. We have more control over the subject.

What advice would you give to up and coming photographers?

M: Perfect your art by shooting as much as you can. Practice, practice and practice. And repeat.

Fatima Tariq / Fatima Tariq Photography 

A Bit About The Photographer

Give us five facts about yourself. 

FT: I started photography when I was 12!

As much as I love being behind the camera, I’m not the type of person who would want to be in front of it.

I hate french fries and chocolate.

I’m currently doing my undergrad — and it’s nothing related to photography!

I have a new and growing interest in videography.

Which country is number one on your bucket list to visit? 

FT: I would love to visit Switzerland! 

Walk us through deciding to become a photographer – how’d that happen?

FT: As I mentioned, I started doing photography at a very young age. It began as a hobby and turned into a passion quickly. My family and friends were the ones who pushed me into starting a career out of something that I absolutely love! And I will be forever grateful to them. 

What was your exposure to photography, or the arts, growing up?

FT: Luckily enough, my school (FPS) was very into promoting the arts. That’s where I began photography as an extracurricular activity. 

What’s the five-year plan? What’s one thing you’d like to have done/achieved?

FT: Number one on my list is to complete my education! After that, I want to return to Pakistan and expand FTP (possibly to different cities in Pakistan, and open up a studio).

A Bit About The Job

Describe the wedding season in three words. 

FT: Colours, emotions and no sleep. 

What was your first ‘official’ photography job?

FT: It was a small-scale Mehndi. 

What do you like most about your job?

FT: The immense amount of love and appreciation that I receive. 

Weddings can naturally be a little chaotic. Does that make it difficult to shoot, or add to the excitement?

FT: The chaos DEFINITELY adds to the excitement. What’s a wedding without some drama (it only adds to the emotions being captured). 

Do you have a favourite event to shoot? (Mehendi, Nikkah, Shaadi, Valima)

FT: Nikkah! No two ways about it. And it’s even better if it’s a day event. 

Do you ever find wedding season monotonous to shoot? How do you overcome it?

FT: No, I think every couple and family brings something unique to their wedding. I think it’s okay to say that I have never shot the two same or even similar weddings. 

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

FT: The demand. It’s very high (especially for winter weddings). And I always want to try and accommodate everybody. That’s the biggest challenge for me! I do not want to disappoint anybody. 

What about wedding photography sets it apart for you from other modes?

FT: The emotions that a wedding is FULL of! 

What advice would you give to up and coming photographers? 

FT: There are no rules. Just bring your own style forward, and the outcome will be like no other. Always be ready to experiment. 

Ali Khurshid / Lighthouse Photography

A Bit About The Photographer

Give us five facts about yourself. 

A: I don’t chill.
I can’t chill.
You’ll never see me holding up a middle finger when posing for a picture.
I’m always anxious about street dogs being shot.
I have run two marathons.

Which country is number one on your bucket list to visit? 

A: Kenya.

Walk us through deciding to become a photographer – how’d that happen?

A: It happened during architecture school when I didn’t pass a semester.

What was your exposure to photography, or the arts, growing up?

A: My schools BNU and IVSAA, and all the amazing teachers and students I met.

What’s the five-year plan? What’s one thing you’d like to have done/achieved?

A: Learn to swim in the open sea. 

A Bit About The Job

Describe the wedding season in three words. 

A: Crazy, colourful, food. 

What was your first ‘official’ photography job?

A: It was shooting landscape photos for an office.

What do you like most about your job?

A: That I’m actually good at it.

Weddings can naturally be a little chaotic. Does that make it difficult to shoot, or add to the excitement?

A: Adds to the excitement. 

Do you have a favourite event to shoot? (Mehendi, Nikkah, Shaadi, Valima)

A: Nikkahs.

Do you ever find wedding season monotonous to shoot? How do you overcome it?

A: By finding great people to shoot for.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

A: Keeping everyone happy. 

What about wedding photography sets it apart for you from other modes?

A: That it has nothing to do with photography.

What advice would you give to up and coming photographers? 

A: Be the best at what you do, and specialise!

Arsalan Zafar

A Bit About The Photographer

Give us five facts about yourself. 

A: I was born and raised in Quetta.
A friend used to call me ‘the guy from the mountains.’
I came to Karachi seven years ago.
I was diagnosed with dyslexia in grade 5, and I didn’t start writing till the 8th grade.
I am one of the youngest trainers in Pakistan. I became a certified one at the age of 17.

Which country is number one on your bucket list to visit? 

A. France.

Walk us through deciding to become a photographer – how’d that happen?

A. It is a silly story. I was not good with physics and maths. After I did my intermediate, my father wanted me to be a pilot. My elder brother interfered and said, ‘baba issay arts karne dain.’ My father scolded him, saying ‘Aur kya bano? Photographer? Shadiyon main tasveerain khechayga?’ After a little argument, my father said: ‘take two months and show me you’re potential. If you fail, you will do what I say.’ I worked day in and day out for my passion. I remember the day NCA Lahore admission letter was delivered to my place. It was 2013 and my journey towards photography started!

What was your exposure to photography, or the arts, growing up?

A. I was always creative and inclined towards art. I used to take pictures of my toy cars all the time with my father’s tiny digital camera. Art always inspired me, and so do peoples stories. Every picture tells a story about the person in it, or about the person taking it. 

What’s the five-year plan? What’s one thing you’d like to have done/achieved?

A. The five-year plan is to include movies in my portfolio. I wanna do movies – at least one every year is the plan. Let’s see how it turns out.

Now A Bit About The Job

Describe the wedding season in three words. 

A. Portraits. People. Emotions.

What was your first ‘official’ photography job?

A. It’s kinda sweet because I was in college, and I wanted to do photography professionally. It was my classmate who asked me If I could do photography for her sister’s nikkah. It was kind of the first break for me.

What do you like most about your job?

A. People! Getting to know people and their beautiful stories. The best part is capturing their moments and being a contributor towards that is the best part.

Weddings can naturally be a little chaotic. Does that make it difficult to shoot, or add to the excitement?

A. Chaos definitely adds to the difficulty. Although it is fun to see people doing crazy things, and going mad after rituals, it gets difficult.

Do you have a favourite event to shoot? (Mehendi, Nikkah, Shaadi, Valima)

A. In Pakistan, the nikkah and shaadi are on the same day usually, but shaadis are my favourite. You get to see our traditional and rich culture: a girl in a red wedding dress. 

Do you ever find wedding season monotonous to shoot? How do you overcome it?

A. Monotonous shoots are something I hate. It happens a lot in Pakistan when people show you a picture, and ask you to replicate it. I mostly refuse. Every person has different features, a different style, and a different face. I always try to do something new with the bride. 

What’s been your biggest challenge so far?

A. The challenge every day is to uphold the same standard, while still striving to do better. 

What about wedding photography sets it apart for you from other modes?

A. One thing for sure is that I consider myself a portrait photographer. At every wedding, that specific bride is my model for the day and all I think about is capturing her. 

What advice would you give to up and coming photographers? 

A. Photography is an art, not a business. Money comes your way eventually; always take good photos not because you are getting paid but because you’re creating art.

This article was lightly edited for clarity.

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