Photographing an Indian wedding with the Canon EOS R

An Indian woman in silk wedding clothes and opulent gold jewellery holds a henna tattooed hand in front of one eye.
The Canon EOS R System was released on the first day of a large, Indian wedding that Sanjay Jogia was booked to shoot. He only had a couple of hours to familiarise himself with the EOS R camera, RF lenses and an EF-EOS R adapter before the ceremony began and 700 guests arrived. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/1.6 and ISO1250. © Sanjay Jogia

Wedding photography is demanding work. Photographers have to combine creativity and technical expertise with organisational skills and business acumen. At the same time, they have to cope with the pressure of recording a landmark event in people's lives, and they must be flexible enough to switch between capturing intimate scenes, to small details, to crowds of wedding guests. It's a challenge that multi-award-winning British photographer and Canon Ambassador Sanjay Jogia relishes.

Sanjay left his career in architecture to become a full-time photographer, setting up Eye Jogia Photography, which largely specialises in shooting Indian weddings, as well as destination weddings all over the world. "I really put kit through its paces," says Sanjay, describing how – over multi-day Indian weddings – he finds himself shooting portraits, landscapes, products, fashion and emotion with his Canon kit... but it’s not the documentary part of his portfolio that Sanjay is best known for: it’s the luxe, fashion-styled portraits that bring studio lighting to a location. "Indian weddings are incredibly rewarding visually," he says, "but tend to be quite demanding."

"There are lots of different types of weddings with different traditions – Hindu, Sikh and Muslim weddings, and there are variations within those traditions. In Hindu weddings, for example, there are lots of things that can vary around the core ceremonies and activities within the wedding, though there are overlaps as well. It means there's always a challenge but it's always fresh and it's always stimulating."

Changing light and silent shooting

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Wedding photography puts a lot of demands on equipment because of the number of images shot in a short time-frame. So Sanjay chose to put Canon's EOS R camera through its paces in one of his most challenging shoots: a lavish, four-day Hindu wedding with 700 guests, set in three different marquees over 15 acres of grounds.

Sanjay found the EOS R enabled him to work in new ways. "There are many, many quiet moments in a wedding, and the clatter of the shutter can be a real distraction. During portraits, for example, it can be quite intimidating." He used the silent shutter function to take pictures without wedding guests being aware or self-conscious, and the articulated screen enabled him to focus and shoot from a range of different angles, without putting the camera to his face. He was also particularly impressed by the way the camera dealt with difficult light situations.

"The marquees had transparent sides and roof, so the light quality was changing throughout the day," he says. "We were getting overcast light, then we were getting bright sunlight peeking through. But because I could see what was happening with the histogram in the EVF, I knew I was protecting my highlights and it was looking good.

Seven small gold and red pots the size of a big toe are lined up on the floor. A toe begins to step on the first one.
Sanjay captured action such as this wedding tradition with the EOS R in continuous shooting mode. The EOS R can shoot a maximum 5fps with Servo AF/AE or 8fps with one-shot AF. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/800 sec, f/2.8 and ISO250. © Sanjay Jogia
An Indian woman in a deep red wedding sari embroidered with gold, plus gold jewellery and henna patterns on her hands, stands peacefully in front of a dark grey wall.
The Canon EOS R's silent shooting mode helped Sanjay to capture natural and intimate moments. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens at 1/200 sec, f/3.2 and ISO1000. © Sanjay Jogia

"Also, a lot of images were shot outside from quite low down, so you've got a bright sky background. Most cameras would underexpose the subject in that situation, but the EOS R did an incredible job. I was still able to recover the detail in the sky, and again there were no blown highlights. I was astounded by the quality of the JPEGs and just how much latitude there was in compressed files."

Sanjay heavily customises his functions – relying on the ability to quickly switch between modes in fast-changing wedding situations. In the unpredictable lighting conditions, he used the newly-introduced Fv mode in the EOS R – a Flexible Priority mode that combines the control of the full manual exposure mode, the aperture priority (Av) and the shutter priority (Tv) with full auto. It allows you to independently adjust each aspect, with the remaining settings automatically responding to maintain the correct exposure.

The reason Sanjay chooses to shoot with a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II is its speed and accuracy in action sequences. "I quickly cycle through settings without having to take the camera away from my face," says Sanjay, meaning he could take full use of the customisable touch-bar on the EOS R.

"At a wedding ceremony I’ll use the face-tracking mode," he explains of high-speed sequences. "It works really well but the AF area is quite small. I hit AI Servo, and that’s very successful at a wedding ceremony. Since Sanjay used the EOS R on this shoot, firmware updates have further improved the camera’s focusing capabilities, adding eye-detection AF in Servo AF mode, as well as a small AF frame size in Servo AF.

"The [potential] challenge for me was fast movement," Sanjay explains about his expectations of the EOS R, "because I didn't know how quick the camera was going to be." But it didn't miss a beat. "For example, there's a sequence of images of a tradition where the groom stands on a little decorative clay pot containing grains; crushing it symbolises that he will not let any obstacles, small or large, come between him and his wife. When I photographed that sequence, using a five-frames-per-second burst [the maximum frame rate with Servo AF/AE] – it captured everything."

A close-up of an Indian bride’s hands decorated with delicate henna patterns.
The wedding was full of beautiful details that Sanjay endeavoured to capture using the RF Macro lens. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM lens at 1/800 sec, f/1.8 and ISO800. © Sanjay Jogia
A red-haired woman in a white dress and long-haired man in a black jacket embrace beside three ponies by a lake.

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Flexibility with the EOS R System

As well as two EOS R bodies, Sanjay also used four new dedicated RF lenses: the RF 28-70mm f/2L USM, the RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, the RF 35mm f/1.8 IS Macro STM and the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM. In addition, he took some of his own EF lenses, which he attached to the EOS R with an EF-EOS R Mount Adapter. This adapter makes it simple to use all your existing EF and EF-S lenses on the EOS R with no loss of quality or functionality.

The shoot included formal portraits of individuals and groups, reportage-style images of set-piece traditional ceremonies and unguarded moments, as well as macro images of details such as jewellery. Although Sanjay carefully prepared and spent time planning what he was going to shoot together with the bride and groom, he knew he also had to prepare for the unexpected.

"Things change on the day and don't always go to plan," he says, "so it means being adaptable and responsive. You have to go with the flow and not be set in your ways, so you can respond to changing environments and try to find opportunities in those situations."

An Indian bride and groom are lifted onto the shoulders of happy guests. The bride holds up a small metal rod.
Changing natural light conditions posed a challenge for Sanjay, which he overcame by checking the histogram in the Canon EOS R's EVF to ensure he exposed correctly for them. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/2.2 and ISO200. © Sanjay Jogia

Moving from the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II to the Canon EOS R was not as difficult as he expected, even though he only had a few hours to familiarise himself with the full-frame mirrorless system before the shoot began.

"Even though the EOS R is a completely different system, it feels similar to other Canon cameras," he says. "The menu system is familiar and everything is where you expect it to be, although there are more functions and lots of new features, like the multi-function touch bar and the articulated screen. It took a little while to get used to the way the camera behaved, the way it reacted and performed in certain environments, but for a first go it was incredibly good."

Before the wedding began, Sanjay customised the two EOS R bodies according to his own shooting preferences so they were both working in exactly the same way. "I disable the focus on the shutter, and have back-button focus," he explains of one of his adaptations. "This allows me to hold the focus on something, and release the trigger repeatedly – I use all of the AF points, manually selecting the point of focus."

An Indian bride wearing an embroidered silk head scarf and gold jewellery including a large nose ring looks up at her groom. We see her from over the groom’s shoulder, which is blurred in the foreground.
In order to use his existing Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens from his kitbag, Sanjay paired the Canon EOS R with an EF-EOS R Mount Adapter. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at 1/320 sec, f/4.0 and ISO250. © Sanjay Jogia

Sanjay says the fact that the EOS R has only one memory card slot, as compared to the two card slots of the EOS-1D X Mark II, didn't worry him. "I'd argue that memory technology is much better now and cards are far more reliable than they ever have been," he says. "If other photographers are worried about it, they can always tether their camera to another device as a back-up. If I was really afraid of the whole one-card-slot situation I would have refused to shoot a wedding with it."

All the images were taken with the camera handheld and, for Sanjay, the really stand-out aspect of this wedding shoot was the quality of the RF lenses he used. "They are hands-down the best lenses I've used," he says.

"They're all excellent, but the RF 28-70mm f/2L USM is astonishing; I mainly used that for the wedding and couldn't put it down. Also, the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM is the sharpest lens I've ever seen. Canon has made huge leaps with the optics on these lenses and I can't wait to see what other cameras and lenses will follow in the future."

Autors David Clark

Sanjay Jogia's kitbag

The key kit for busy weddings

Wedding photographer Sanjay Jogia crouches low among some stones, holding his Canon camera to his eye.


Canon EOS R

A full-frame 30.3 Megapixel sensor with impressive detail, ISO performance and Dual Pixel CMOS AF, which Sanjay says "did an incredible job."

Canon EOS-1D X Mark II

Canon's flagship pro DSLR features a 20.2 Megapixel full-frame sensor, 61-point AF system, up to 14fps and ISO to 409,600.


Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM

The RF 28-70mm f/2L USM offers the kind of image quality you'd expect from a prime lens, and adds an f/2 maximum aperture for more creative control. "It's astonishing," says Sanjay, "I couldn't put it down."


Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM

This EF lens is a workhorse telephoto zoom lens designed for professional use. It has a rugged durable design, a four-stop Image Stabilizer and specialised lens elements.

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