"I loved to break toys to understand the dynamics of their construction, and then loved to piece them back together like a pro. I remember being curious about everything around me. I have always questioned, and knowing how things work always gives me a high," says Chandru Bharathy Founder of Focuz Studios, Chennai. It is a candid wedding photography studio, which he set up with Saranraj Annamalai.
Both Saranraj and Chandru got into photography together when they realised they shared a similar vision and passion towards taking candid wedding photographs. From starting at Rs 15,000 for one wedding shoot to now charging between Rs 1.25 and 15 lakhs, Focuz Studios has come a long way. The duo, in fact, is counted among the best candid photographers in Chennai.
Chandru hails from a humble middle-class background: his father, Prakasam Raju, works as a car mechanic and his mother, Thenmozhi, is a homemaker. It was during his Class X that Chandru discovered Adobe Photoshop. "I loved it so much that I went and bought a book on the basics of Photoshop so that I could teach myself designing/editing techniques. A friend was kind enough to let me use his computer, and I practiced for hours together and became a good designer in no time," says Chandru.
He went ahead and did Mechanical Engineering at an engineering college in Salem. While he did get opportunities to work at several MNCs, Chandru knew that he had to work in the creative space and that he wasn't cut out for the corporate world. This is when he decided to get into digital computer animation. His first job was as a Photoshop designer in a traditional photography studio. Simultaneously, he was studying a course in animation.
He got his first full-time job at Reliance Media Works in Mumbai as a CG artist. "I packed my bags, moved to Mumbai, and had some very interesting experiences in my new job. I drew a sizeable income every month, and that money helped our family out of the financial crises, slowly. It was during this time that I developed an interest in photography," adds Chandru.
Chandru realised that he had finally found his passion. He quit his job and started a studio that specialised in candid and artistic wedding photography. "It was a moment’s conviction that gave me the courage to quit my job, and entrepreneurship welcomed me with a warm embrace, and a tight budget," adds Chandru. His first assignment was a friend's wedding, where he had the opportunity to explore and experiment with light, colour, and angles.
Saranraj's journey was slightly different. An electronics engineer by education, his tryst with photography began when his friend got his DSLR camera. "What started off as a passing interest became an obsession, and I taught myself photography for the sheer joy of it. I learnt about the different types of cameras, and also got myself some hands-on training on photo editing software," says Saranraj. After taking a few candid pictures of his friend at her wedding, he knew he had to get into candid photography. Soon, one thing led to another, and the duo became founders of Focuz Studios.
Till date, the duo has shot weddings of people coming from different cultures. Work has also taken them abroad, and they have shot weddings in Paris, London, Bangkok, and Singapore. “We believe in happy clients, and in not compromising on the quality of our output. Photography is an art, and we respect our experiments too much to do anything lesser than what we expect of ourselves," says Chandru.
He adds that they've made sure they did everything to ensure they were the best in the market. From updating their tools to the latest equipment in the market to completely changing their post-processing style, the duo explored and zeroed in on a unique style of editing. "We did not have our own website when we got started, and yet, people signed up with us just by word of mouth. We have come a long way since then. We are currently among the top-three wedding photographers in Chennai, and all the feedback and appreciation has motivated us to think of new ways to build our business," adds Chandru.
When the duo started out, it was very difficult for them to convince people about candid/ artistic wedding photography. This was a relatively new concept in India, and they were wading through unexplored waters.
Today, things are different. The duo has now shot over 150 weddings. "Our team is small, a passionate unit of 10 people, but the output of our lab is world-class," says a proud Chandru.