Photographing A Doli Ceremony – Image of the Week #456

This breathtaking image by James at Birches and Pine was captured whilst photographing a Doli Ceremony at an Indian wedding. When I first came across it, I was immediately drawn to the compelling narrative it conveys.

The scene unfolds as a rich, multi-layered tapestry, adorned with an abundance of colour and texture. Every subject gazes directly into the camera, creating the sensation of a carefully orchestrated film scene, as though the director has masterfully aligned each individual with the lens. Hearing James’s description of the setting, it’s clear that this moment was teeming with activity, which would have presented a considerable challenge for capturing such a striking composition.

Initially, I too mistook the white lines for light shafts, but now I understand that they are the grains of rice, adding a layer of depth to the photograph. James’s forethought and technical choices shine through as he perfectly anticipates this action. The selection of a wide focal length, coupled with a slow shutter speed, contributes to the image’s maximum impact, rendering it extraordinary.

The most intriguing aspect, however, is the expressions on the faces of the subjects. Engaging in a playful act while maintaining such solemn expressions creates a powerful juxtaposition. It’s this interplay between the joyous action and the unyielding seriousness on display that elevates this photograph to a realm of artistry and storytelling that is truly exceptional.

Nikon Z6ii | Nikkor Z 24-70 f2.8 S
ISO 360 | F/2.8 | 1/30
Own Preset

What James said…

Let me let you about this image that was taken earlier this summer at a Doli Ceremony on Indie and Daniels wedding day.

The Doli tradition is a bittersweet moment, a beautiful mix of emotions as the bride wishes her parents eternal prosperity by tossing rice grains over her shoulders into her mother’s outstretched hands. Family and friends bid their fond farewells, adding a touch of sombre nostalgia to the air.

The event is held after the main Sikh wedding ceremony at the Gurdwara back at the bride, Indie’s, parents’ home in Wolverhampton. Picture me, trapped in the corner of a living room bursting with energy and about a hundred other people. As I’ve photographed many Sikh weddings, I knew the rice was about to take flight, but the direction was anyone’s guess. With my camera in hand and determination to get to the front, I wiggled my way through a sea of Indie’s 16 bridesmaids (traditionally not part of Indian weddings!) to get as close to Indie as humanly possible. In an attempt to add some movement and atmosphere to my shot, I went for a lower shutter speed of 1/30th. Zooming out to 24mm, to try and make sure I captured Indie’s outstretched arm while she threw rice over each of her shoulders into each corner of the room. On her final throw, she pelted me with a full handful of rice. The grains bounced off my camera and found their new homes in my hair and beard. It was a moment of hilarity and surprise, making everyone’s tears in a brief moment turn to laughter. We’ve all experienced being covered with confetti at a wedding, but rice really goes everywhere.

The resulting photograph, which was later cropped for Instagram, perfectly frames Indie against the lavish backdrop set up by @Lavish_backdrops_and_events_uk. The vibrant edit, created with my own presets I have specifically made for Asian weddings.
So, there you have it—a moment in time captured, filled with laughter, joy, and a bit of rice-inspired chaos.”

The Tech Talk – Photographing a Doli Ceremony

“I do love primes but at the chaos of an Indian wedding having a 24-70 is invaluable. The room and space I was in, was so tight that I couldn’t actually reach down to pick up my other cameras on my harness.

Without being able to change focal length so quickly I would have easily missed this moment.

I used a slower shutter speed because I intentionally wanted to blur the motion of the rice being thrown. The Nikon Z6ii has fantastic built-in image stabilisation with up to 5 stops of help. So I knew I would easily be able to handhold the shot at 1/30.”



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