Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Do You Photograph a Valai Kaappu?

I asked some of my peers and bloggers that question when I was contacted about photographing a Hindu ceremony called a valai kaappu in mid-July. What I found out about valai kaappu photography is that:
  1. Very few people I know have photographed this type of event,
  2. Google doesn't help very much if you misspell transliterated words, and
  3. Lugging around two heavy cameras makes the July heat just that much more miserable. Photographers: What do you do to stay calm, cool, and collected when you're shooting in weather like the harsh St. Louis summer?
In a valai kaappu ceremony, the family gathers around a table, makes offerings, and prays for the health and well-being of all involved parties. After the religious component is over, the expectant mother is showered with blessings and bangles by all of the elders in the family.

It was challenging to shoot this event not only because of the heat but also due to my personal desire to not block the view of those watching. I had essentially three sides to shoot from and I let the fourth remain open for guests. I also couldn't stand directly above the ceremony or again I would be a distraction - or worse, fall into the middle of the ceremonial table!

Here are some of my personal favorites from the shoot.

Congratulations to Raj and Gauri, and thanks for making me a part of this special day!


  1. Wow Jonathan!

    Great topic, beautiful pictures. Curious.. did you deliberately strip the exif?

  2. Thanks, Steve!

    EXIF data is being stripped by SmugMug (where I host images and galleries and have a shopping cart). SmugMug strips all non-photo data in thumbnails and smaller versions of the photos, and they store it in their database instead. You can optionally turn on its display for a gallery.

    I don't have a preference either way regarding customers seeing EXIF data, so I leave it be when I deliver things on DVD.