The Democratic Photographic Republic of India

The Democratic Photographic Republic of India is a project that celebrates the democracy in photography craft that is seen all over the world today. The subjects of this project are the non-professional wedding photographers at Indian weddings. These photographers are essentially the invited guests at a wedding – the family and friends of the couple who are getting married. They are not the photographers who were commissioned to photograph the weddings. In fact, It was I who was commissioned to photograph these weddings, and in the course of these assignments I pursued this project on the sidelines.

The project started with the first ever wedding that I was commissioned to shoot, and it continues to evolve with every new wedding I am asked to photograph.

The landscape of these “family & friends” photographers has evolved along with the evolution of cameras. In the beginning, I noticed a very few guests who used to carry a pocket camera to weddings. As camera technology evolved, first came the early DSLR camera owners. Soon, they were followed by legions of DSLR users. And the way our phones evolved, cameras became more affordable and found their way into new devices like smart phones and tablets. Today, every cousin, friend, uncle, aunt, grandpa, neighbor and colleague is armed with a camera or photographic device in hand, and will not hesitate to make images at a loved one’s wedding. Their diversity became an important ethnographic project for me.

Many professional wedding photographers probably find this democracy a hindrance to their work. But I, though at few occasions found the space crowded, have otherwise enjoyed shooting in between the already chaotic and charged Indian wedding setting. I personally celebrate the democracy in photography, as it broke down entry-level barriers to the craft and also removed the monopolies that existed in photography world. Today, everyone is in a position make a photograph from their own perspective and communicate to their audience.

The line between professional photographers and amateur photographers is blurring. I have seen many terrible professional photographers, and brilliant amateur photographers. It is futile and silly to stereotype a category of these photographers based on general assumptions. I do not want to curse this ‘democracy’. A windfall change always brings with it a disruption of existing structures and institutions. The democracy in photography has precisely done that.

In my opinion, one should not try to curb or discourage this democracy. Instead, we should encourage visual literacy and photography education for the mainstream. This would improve the quality of the visual communication seen in our daily lives. After all, the ways of seeing this world is as important as handling the camera when it comes to becoming a photographer.

The world photography day is observed every year on 19th August. Its origins are to mark the anniversary of the patenting of the first practical photographic process – the Daguerreotype. Personally, I’d like to see the day to celebrate the democracy of this craft – To be able to photograph a subset of our universe from our individual perspectives and be able to share with the rest of the world. Long live this democracy!

Here is the gallery containing photographs from this project.


Thank you for visiting my website. I am a Bangalore, India based documentary Photographer specializing in Editorial, Wedding and Portrait photography. I use this website to showcase my projects and also for sharing my knowledge on photography though my blog. Join me on Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook, or write to me via this Contact Form link for any assignments or for conversations on photography.  To follow my work specific to wedding & portrait photography, do like & follow Embedded Eyes on Facebook.

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Nishant Ratnakar
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Nishant Ratnakar

Photographer | Visual Storyteller at www.nishantratnakar.com
Nishant is a Bangalore, India based Wedding, Portrait & Editorial Photographer. He is available for assignments across India. He also conducts photography workshops and offers personal photography mentorship.
Nishant Ratnakar
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