Magic Hour Photoshoots or Doli?

Magic Hour right before Pani Verna

Magic Hour right before Pani Verna

Here are some thoughts regarding the layout of an average punjabi wedding day and its structure.

When it comes to punjabi weddings, its important to note which traditions are native to our culture and what traditions we have borrowed from outside sources. Especially when it comes to filming and shooting these traditions. For example, filming of the morning prep is something we adopted from the western tradition. However, traditionally companies have simply focused on getting shots of the the accessories and make up—we've started to shift the importance onto the family members themselves, capturing candid moments as they unfold. Knowing that this part of the wedding day was adopted from the west means we have more time to creatively get involved. Parts of the wedding that are unique to our traditions, such as the ceremony, doli and pani verna are pretty much filmed as is to preserve their culturally integrity. 

It use to be that you could get an entire punjabi wedding from morning prep to reception done in one day. But as we adopted more and more traditions from the west (and became unwilling to shed traditions of our own) our weddings have grown into a two day (sometimes three day) affair—and that's not even including the constantly fluctuating number of pre wedding events!

We adopted speeches, the ring exchange and the photoshoot from the western tradition. The speeches and photoshoot adding to the length of the weddings themselves. The rest of this talk, as the title suggests, will be regarding photoshoots and how we can improve upon them. 

Afternoon photoshoot (notice the background blowing out a bit, as the harsh light makes it difficult for propper exposure, in this particular photo we have the subject sitting under a shaded tree so as to correctly expose for them, you may notice photographers using that technique often at events). 

Afternoon photoshoot (notice the background blowing out a bit, as the harsh light makes it difficult for propper exposure, in this particular photo we have the subject sitting under a shaded tree so as to correctly expose for them, you may notice photographers using that technique often at events). 

Now, traditionally, the photoshoot has been done after the wedding and before the doli. While there may be many logistical reasons for this (easier getting family photoshoots done right after ceremony, provides a break in the action etc) it isn't exactly the best time for a photoshoot. Punjabi weddings usually end sometime in the afternoon, when the sun is directly above our heads casting harsh light downwards over the eyes.

As our past clients have noted—we like to take our casual photoshoot in the hour before and after sundown. There's a term for this time of day within photography circles—magic hour. 

Afternoon photoshoot with overcast conditions.

Afternoon photoshoot with overcast conditions.

Magic hour simply yields the best photos, especially from a lighting perspective. The sun isnt as high up in the sky, its level with the sky line and the light isnt as harsh, so it provides for soft, evenly lit photos without the harsh shadows. So with keeping that in mind, we propose some changes to the structure of the wedding day that would make for stunning wedding day photo shoots. We think it might even help with the timing of events but we dont realistically expect everyone to adopt these changes! However, if our logic makes sense to you (and you happen to be one of our clients) feel free to bring this up with us. Overcast weather works much in the same way, as clouds obscure the harsh light and provide a natural, blanket soft box. owever, overcast weather often brings with it the chance of rain!

Magic Hour under normal conditions with clear skies

Magic Hour under normal conditions with clear skies

Magic Hour under normal conditions with clear skies

Magic Hour under normal conditions with clear skies

In our opinion, after the wedding, the family photoshoots and any group pictures should be taken care of at the gurdwara. Then, instead of heading to the photoshoot location where alot of time is wasted in getting everyone organized only to take photos in harsh lighting—we think it would be beneficial to carry on with the day and head to the doli at the brides house. With the Doli taken care of, one has the option of doing an extended photoshoot and the pressure of being "on time" is gone so it makes for a much more casual, relaxed shoot. Also, by virtue of the timing, we are shooting in better light! One could conceivably go ahead with the pani verna and leave the photoshoot for the end of the day if need be but we like the idea of ending the day at the grooms house—so we wont mess with tradition too much. 

Magic Hour during this Doli also provides for stunning flares that our top-end lenses capture better than cheaper-end glass. 

Magic Hour during this Doli also provides for stunning flares that our top-end lenses capture better than cheaper-end glass. 

Now, with the doli being before the photoshoot, many girls might be worried about their make up after going through that emotional gauntlet, or even just being in the right mood for a photoshoot. To this we don't really have an answer, we acknowledge that this may be a potential drawback. However, we have noticed that more and more Doli's are becoming happier events—still emotional—but in a different way and its a welcome change. Regardless, let us know what you think? Should we not fiddle with "tradition"? Are things as good as they're going to get? Or are you down with playing around with your wedding structure to get the best possible photos and film?