When it comes to wedding photography, Mili Ghosh is a bit of a rock star. Brought up in Tanzania and having lived in the US and Canada, she began her filmmaking career with short films and documentaries, moving on to launch her own wedding-photography firm, Memories in Motion, about 10 years ago. Now a specialist in high-profile NRI weddings across the world from US to the Philippines—including that of Tarini Jindal, daughter of steen tycoon Sajjan Jindal—Ghosh understands completely what goes into the making of multi-million dollar celebrations.
Ghosh found herself once again behind the lens at the much-talked-about US$ 9 million wedding of Houston-based industrialist Pankaj Malani, 34, and Avnie Patel, 29, in Las Vegas a few months ago. “My cousin Raj is actually Pankaj’s best friend and he introduced us a few months before the wedding,” says Ghosh. “Pankaj, Avnie, and their families reviewed our previous work and liked our portfolio and decided to retain us for photography.” Malani, who is an avid poker player and frequents Vegas very often, always wanted to have his wedding at the iconic Bellagio there.
“Pankaj and Avnie were eager to document their wedding in a manner that would depict the effort and hard work put in by both of them in planning the finer details of the various events. They wanted the photos to reflect their personalities and their love story,” says Ghosh, adding that their respective parents were not involved in the creative aspects of the shoot, the planning for which began four months before D-day. “Wedding planner Tory Cooper had the events itinerary well planned out—this helped us tremendously in planning the shoot and having a smooth workflow.”
On day one of the wedding festivities, Malani’s baraat arrived in Las Vegas on a chartered aircraft with 165 guests on board, dancing their way down the steps after landing. A high-powered sangeet was held at the pool deck of the Cosmopolitan hotel the same evening. The wedding itself—complete with an elephant for the groom—was held the next afternoon at the Bellagio; according to some reports, a crowd of 5,000 passers-by gathered to watch the flamboyant festivities. This was followed by a grand reception the same evening. On the last morning, a farewell brunch was held at the Bellagio for the 570 guests who had attended the wedding from all over the world.
“The sangeet was the toughest to shoot due to the venue being outdoors,” recalls Ghosh. “It was tough to maintain the correct exposure for the camera at all times. Also, the darker backdrops at night make it more difficult to shoot with good depth of field,” she says, adding that she worked with a team of four photographers and two assistants, flown in from London and Seattle for the wedding. In all, about 16,500 photographs were taken at the wedding events.
Ghosh’s advises soon-to-be married couples to find a “personality match and creative agreement” with their photographer. “Every photographer has their own voice and the bride and groom have to evaluate with whom they see a good fit. Apart from standard questions about the collections, pricing, albums, and so on, the bride and the groom should also ask questions about the creative process and the photographer’s vision for the wedding photos and the album. Most of the conflicts I see happen during the creative process. It’s important to have a good match in that aspect,” she says.
Further, personal comfort is extremely important. “On the wedding day, the photographer will be in a close space around the bride and the working chemistry between the bride and photographer is critical for good photographs. The best and most popular photographer may not always be the best match for a particular couple,” she advises. In Ghosh’s experience, the most important aspect of wedding photography is to be able to extract true moments and emotions “in a controlled fashion”. “I use props, funny or sad stories, and give situations to my brides and grooms to be able to have them feel the emotion I want to extract. Lighting, frame, composition, and expressions from the bride and groom are all critical in making these moments look natural.”
A “perfect” photograph, if it does exist, would be something timeless, avers Ghosh. As she sees it, “An Indian wedding, with its emotional setting, always gives us photographers opportunities to capture such moments and freeze them in time.”
THE COUPLE’S CHECKLIST:
Ensembles: Sabyasachi Mukherjee (for Avnie) and Shantanu & Nikhil (for Pankaj)
Wedding planner: Tory L Cooper
Cake: Jeanette Droegmoeller and Sylvain Bortolini at the Bellagio, Las Vegas
Photography: Memories in Motion / Mili Ghosh Photography
Floral arrangements: MGM Resort events
Wedding décor: Prashe Décor
First published in the May 2014 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Bride