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Vibrant Vows

With her Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 G2 zoom lens, Paola Ponchielli captures the colorful details of an Indian wedding ceremony.

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By Jenn Gidman
Images by Paola Ponchielli

When Paola Ponchielli isn’t teaching a photo business course at a college on the East End of Long Island, she’s running her family, lifestyle, and event photography business, serving as an observer and documentarian for her clients’ most special moments. “I'm good with people, and I’m not afraid to approach them,” she says. “At the same time, I’m good at sensing someone’s personality and can tell if they love being in front of the camera or if I have to help them out a bit. I consider myself a storyteller, with a documentary style of shooting. I especially love taking candids—I want to capture all of the genuine moments, even the offbeat ones.”

Paola was recently recruited to take pictures at an Indian wedding, an event of around 80 people. “I’d been referred to the couple by a corporate client and hadn’t realized beforehand that it was an Indian wedding,” she says. “I’d just been told it was a backyard wedding; it all came together so quickly. I was initially nervous, as I hadn’t shot this type of wedding before, but the family was terrific and the backyard flowers and decorations, set up by the House of Dipali, were stunning—I knew right away that I was going to capture some amazing photos.”

© Paola Ponchielli
28-75mm (57mm), F3.2, 1/1600 sec ISO 500
Click image to view larger

At Paola’s side for the “I do’s” was her Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III VXD G2 zoom lens for her Sony mirrorless camera system. “The backyard where the wedding took place was beautiful, but it was a tight space, without a lot of room for me to step back and maneuver, so this lens was perfect for that environment,” she says. “The 28-75mm allows me to pull back for the wider shots, but also zoom in for tighter shots when needed. The lens is so compact and light—a big deal if I’m at a multihour event—my images are always sharp, and the F2.8 maximum aperture has proven to be a lifesaver in lower-light situations.”


Light up the happy couple.
When capturing the bride and groom, try to keep them as natural-looking as possible, including by bathing them in natural light. In this photo of the happy couple here, as I tried to capture a few formal portraits of them before the ceremony, I found a spot where a beam of sunlight was hitting the bride right in her midsection. I love how the picture looks almost high key. As the day turns to evening at these events and the light starts to wane, I’ll often bust out my camera flash with a diffuser for family portraits.

© Paola Ponchielli
28-75mm (41mm), F2.8, 1/3200 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

Incorporate tradition.
This adds a richness to your storytelling. In Indian weddings, the bride and close female family members and friends often participate in a mehndi ceremony, usually held the night before the wedding, where they have henna designs applied to their hands and feet. By zooming in to 75mm and shooting with a lower aperture like F2.8, I was able to focus on the intricate details and symbolism of this cultural ritual—whether it’s the bride showing off her meticulously decorated fingers and palms or clasping her partner’s hand.

© Paola Ponchielli
28-75mm (75mm), F3.2, 1/800 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

© Paola Ponchielli
28-75mm (75mm), F2.8, 1/4000 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

Focus on unique details.
The setting of an Indian wedding is often filled with vibrant, colorful attire and backdrops. Seek out opportunities to capture the most interesting elements with your Tamron 28-75mm G2 lens. For instance, a popular photo to take at any wedding is one of the flowers—either the bride’s bouquet or the floral decor throughout the venue or in the centerpieces. In this case, I was able to focus on that gorgeous floral arrangement while still showing the wall of tea lights in the background, nicely blurred out thanks to the bokeh I was able to achieve with that F2.8 aperture. I also used the lens to zoom in tight on a bowl of rice—a symbol of fertility and prosperity for the new partners—that was placed amid a larger setup of fruit, flowers, candles, and other accoutrements.

© Paola Ponchielli
28-75mm (46mm), F2.8, 1/1000 sec., ISO 400
Click image to view larger

© Paola Ponchielli
28-75mm (75mm), F3.5, 1/640 sec., ISO 500
Click image to view larger

Keep the energy high.
I love a large multihour event—in fact, I’ve been commissioned to shoot a three-day Indian wedding next month, which I’m excited about. And for this I’ll have a team with me, including a second shooter and two assistants. But I’ve also worked events with 150 plus people solo, and I always get the same feedback: “You look like you’re having so much fun!” Truth be told, I’m usually exhausted from all the festivities, but you have to turn it on and stay positive, even when you’re exhausted. That helps all of the subjects in front of your camera also maintain a happy party mood. Working this way also leads to a lot of referrals!

To see more of Paola Ponchielli’s work, check out her website and Instagram.

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