How this couple’s startup strives for originality in the crowded wedding photography market

Mumbai-based wedding photography and film startup WeddingNama claims to have grown 10x since its inception in 2013, and has won a number of awards.
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To call India’s wedding industry is ‘huge’ would be an understatement. From selecting the location, designing the outfit, buying jewellery to finalising the décor, a large number of professions are involved in getting two people married. One of them is photography.

No wedding is nowadays complete without wedding photographers and videographers. They don’t just cover the day of the wedding, but are involved in every stage of the celebrations — right from capturing intricate moments of the event to presenting the bride and groom.

One such photography startup is WeddingNama, which was founded by wife-husband duo Ankita Asthana and Akash Agarwal in 2013. The business was born out of the couple’s common passion for travel and photography.

Team at WeddingNama

“It was a new field to venture into at the time and the industry itself was not very well organised. Traditional methods were still prevalent, and covering weddings in a contemporary style was almost unheard of,” Akash tells YourStory.

To give traditional Indian weddings a modern avatar, WeddingNama set out to introduce new trends in the photography and film business such as drone photography, exotic destination weddings etc.

“The other thing that has worked for us is that we had a professional approach towards weddings right from the beginning, and a good online presence. In fact, in the beginning, almost all our clients were NRIs who found us either through our website or word of mouth. That, along with doing quality work, has given us our edge,” says Ankita.

WeddingNama has worked for many popular figures across industries including Zaheer Khan and Sagarika Ghatge, Chanda Kochhar, Rajan Raheja (Chairman, Raheja Group), Neeta Lulla (Bollywood Fashion Designer), among others.



The journey

In 2010, the husband-wife duo moved to Mumbai from Delhi.

Ankita, with her Master's degree in Photography from NID, Ahmedabad, was experimenting with fashion photography, doing shoots for lifestyle magazines and dabbling with product photography.

Her first wedding photography assignment happened by chance when a senior from her college requested her to shoot his wedding in 2012. And that was just the beginning. With an outpouring of references, wedding shoots were lining up.

What began as assignments meant for a solo photographer soon started taking the shape of a large business because of overseas assignments that only a big team could handle.

Ankita Asthana and Akash Agarwal

Akash, in the meantime, started working in the banking sector after completing his MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur. As the demand for Ankita’s shoots grew, Akash, who was also passionate about photography and filmmaking, made the switch from trading derivatives in the banking sector and came on board to build a full-scale company. At the same time, his former CEO was calling him for meetings, but this time it was to discuss her daughter’s wedding.

Ankita and Akash’s business claims to have grown 10x since it was launched, even though they restrict the number of weddings to 20 a year.

The company has been self-funded and has remained self-sustainable.

Till date, the team filmed in places like France, Italy, Scotland, Turkey, the UK, the US, Mexico, Kenya, France, Cyprus, the UAE, Oman, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and most parts of India. 

The startup has won the Great Indian Wedding Awards (GIWA), WOW Asia Awards, and many international awards by Junebug Weddings, Fearless Photographers, ISPWP (International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers), and WPJA (Wedding Photojournalist Association).

Their work has been exhibited in London and Brazil, and in publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, NYTimes, and Huffington Post. Ankita and Akash also serve as mentors for brands like Nikon, Profoto, and Harman Technology, reviewing their products and giving their inputs to the respective R&D teams. 



Surviving the pandemic

The recent lockdown has definitely impacted the startup’s business as many people have either been forced to delay their weddings, or are unsure of whether they can host grand functions. Meanwhile, WeddingNama has redirected its focus on another vertical – The WeddingNama School.

The programme, started in August 2019, is designed for photographers and cinematographers who are either already working in the industry or intend to enter the industry to hone their skills. 

It is a three-day immersive course on everything to do with wedding photography, covering the creative and the business side of it. The vertical has been offering free LIVE sessions during the pandemic to give back to the community, and raise the morale of young photographers. 

Talking about the current slowdown due to the pandemic, the two believe that the industry may face a short-term setback. “We expect intimate weddings to start by the end of this year. But since people love to celebrate with full flair, it won’t take a lot of time for them to get back to the big fat Indian wedding. In our country, they are deeply tied to people’s emotions and are, in fact, essential in many ways,” says Ankita.



Why WeddingNama?

As per a 2017 KPMG report, the Indian wedding market is estimated to be $40-50 billion in size. It is only second to the US in terms of the market size.

With wedding photography being a crowded space, the founders say that there is a big need for the startup to differentiate itself from the others.

“We are constantly thinking of new ideas and ways to capture love stories. Also, in this business, it is very easy to copy the work of another. So, we have to constantly reinvent ourselves,” says Akash.

With a team of 15, the startup claims to have brought new trends to the wedding photography and film business like drone photography, underwater shoots, destination couple shoots (in locations like Cappadocia, Paris, Ladakh, Kashmir, Bali, Italy, Scotland, etc), and exotic destination weddings.

Zaheer Khan and Sagarika Ghatge during their wedding shot by WeddingNama I Image credit: WeddingNama

Additionally, WeddingNama was among the first in the industry to organise the wedding photography and filming business by launching a setup that included in-house cinematographers, photographers, and editors.

“We wanted consistent quality and we give an ample amount of time to post-production, which is usually neglected. We pay a lot of attention to details and personalise and customise every single thing for our couples,” added Akash.

The WeddingNama team does many rounds of discussions with the couple to understand their personality and their likes. It’s only then that they suggest the kind of photographs and films that should be made.

Once the dates are finalised with the client, a 50 percent advance is received and the remaining is paid on the day of the shoot. The packages and professional fee for every assignment is different and it is customised for every couple.

Currently, WeddingNama is looking to expand its operations to more cities.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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