He knows his angles right

The notorious summer of North India had just set in when the 28-year-old professional photographer Vijay Tonk ditched his DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex) camera to shoot a wedding in Ghaziabad.

“People were overexcited to see what I was up to. Some even thought that I am a filmmaker and was making a film at the wedding venue,” recalls Tonk. The reason for this unrestrained curiosity among the guests was Tonk’s way to capture the wedding through selfies. This was probably the first ever Indian wedding that was shot through selfies and made Tonk ‘India’s first professional smartphone wedding photographer’.

Popularly referred to as Think Tonk in the virtual world, this professional wedding photographer has experienced an interesting journey till now. After graduating in Mass Communication, the Delhi boy gave a miss to masters in photography for a diploma in advertising and public relations from Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC). “The photography bug bit me when I was pursuing my graduation. I did few odd marketing assignments in Delhi malls to earn money to buy my first digital camera. My first DSLR, a Canon 400D came to me during my masters. Yet I kept juggling between advertising
and PR till I attended a college friend’s wedding in Rajasthan in 2010.”

The candid shots of this particular wedding taken in low light became a hit when Tonk uploaded them on Facebook, on returning home. “People started asking me how much do I charge for wedding photography and I thought why not take it up. It was my dream to be a travel photographer but it didn’t generate much money when I took it up. I thought I would shoot one or two weddings in a month and break even my expenses but once I started, there was no looking back.”

Tonk started with charging Rs 5,000 for a wedding at a time when candid wedding photography was still finding its ground in India. With time he gained popularity, was joined by an assistant and added many more cameras to his kitty. Today, for a
day’s shoot, Tonk charges anything in between Rs 60,000 - 80,000.

“When I went to shoot weddings, the older generation thought I am not a good photographer since I missed their posed pictures. It is still difficult to explain to them the definition of ‘candid’. What bothered me more was when I stood in the centre of the stage, I was the only one with a camera while the rest in the frame had their
mobile phones.”  

He then discussed with Microsoft to shoot a wedding through his Lumia 730 and the software giant organised an online competition to choose a couple whose wedding would be ‘shot differently’. “Before the wedding I met the couple with their family and explained to them that I will be only taking selfies of those clicking their own selfies,” says Tonk excited about the concept of ‘selfie wedding’.

He states that he wanted people to enjoy the wedding and didn’t force anyone but regrets getting that “one shot of panditji taking a selfie while the couple is taking pheras. Panditji said “Beta rehne do, muhurat nikal jayega.” Well, this is another challenge that he is yet to accomplish!  
“I even edited the pictures through applications in my smartphone. Though people get a little conscious when they see my camera, I realised ‘a phone is a phone is a phone’,” he sums up the experience adding, “A smartphone can’t replace a DSLR but may be in future there would be a DSLR the size of a smartphone.”

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