Rohan Shastri
Rohan Shastri

The memories of the biggest day of your lives should last forever.

That is why, when it comes to weddings, one of your most important considerations will be who to choose as your photographer.

Just as you want your hair, make-up, dress, shoes and accessories to be perfect, so you will want perfect images that you can treasure for a lifetime.

On such a momentous day, preparation is the key, and so it’s important to plan the flow of events and style of shoot beforehand with your photographer.

What goes into shooting a wedding and the traditions and events surrounding it?

The Bermuda Sun spoke to Jamie MacMillan and Rohan Shastri of Moongate Productions to find out what happens in a typical day in the life of a wedding photographer.

Mr MacMillan, 27, and Mr Shastri, 26, both studied photography in the UK and formed Moongate Productions on their return to Bermuda, in 2011.

Mr MacMillan completed a degree in photography and video at the University of Sunderland while Mr Shastri graduated in photography from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in Surrey. He also completed a foundation course at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.

The pair met through friends and at Dolphin Quest Bermuda, where Mr MacMillan was working for the summer.

Mr Shastri taught photography for the ‘Youth, Camera, Action’ project at the Bermuda National Gallery.

He said: “We started throwing ideas around and realized there was a gap for us in the market, as both photographers and videographers. So we launched Moongate Productions in November.

“As we do a combination of video and photography, we have that diversity.” Moongate Productions now has a variety of projects in its portfolio, ranging from weddings to family portraits, to promotional material for the Department of Tourism, commercial work, and even a video for the Norwegian Breakaway cruise liner.

For weddings, Mr Shastri and Mr MacMillan say that having two photographers is a definite advantage.

“This gives one of us a chance to do more creative shots while the other will be capturing the crucial details, so we don’t miss anything,” said Mr MacMillan.

“If we have a location such as Stonehole Bay, one of us can go on top of the rocks on the cliff while the other stays around the ceremony, for example.”

Mr Shastri said if it is just a small wedding party, only one photographer is usually needed, but this is discussed with the wedding planner and/or bride and groom.

Their bookings tend to be “half and half” of local and destination weddings.

“We did 26 weddings last year and this year we’ve had more than 10 so far,” said Mr Shastri.

“It averages one or two a week during the summer. But in July and August Bermudians don’t tend to get married at that time so there are more destination weddings at this time.”

Before each couple’s big day, they will sit down to talk to Mr Shastri and Mr MacMillan about the day’s events and shooting/filming.

Mr Shastri said although ‘diva’-like/Bridezilla requests were rare, the talk tends to set boundaries as well as outline each individual couple’s priorities.

“This meeting is the most important part of planning the day’s shoot,” he said.

“We will walk the couple through the process and what we are able to achieve within a certain time, and so that also tends to get rid of any funny requests.

“You sometimes get people who are ‘detail-oriented’, but most people know what they want, rather than them being demanding, and so this can be useful.”

Most couples will already have an idea of the style of photographer they are booking, from Internet searches.

“People will tend to choose a certain photographer to match their own personal style, so they already have an idea of what they want, from looking at your website,” said Mr Shastri.

“My advice to any couple getting married is to get to know your photographer(s) and their work before you make a decision.

“As a photographer, your ‘personality’ should also match up with the couple, particularly with the bride.”

Mr MacMillan said: “On the wedding day itself we usually spend more time with the couple than 90 per cent of their guests, so we are basically the extended wedding party.”

Mr Shastri added: “They will also look to you for guidance on the day, to the flow of proceedings, so you are almost like a wedding planner in a way.

“They also sometimes need advice on certain traditions, such as a groom may ask you whether he has his boutonniere placed correctly.”

Although most weddings are traditional in Bermuda, and themed or unusual weddings are rare, there are plenty of opportunities to have some fun, say Mr Shastri and Mr MacMillan.

“There was one couple who had met at the athletics stadium (National Sports Centre) and who were sprinters, and so we took photos of them sprinting on the track and of the wedding rings tied between the laces of the running shoes. That was a fun day,” said Mr Shastri.

Being Bermudian, it also helps to bring local knowledge to each wedding location, they say.

“We know every church and location on the island, so we get to understand how certain styles of photography will work in each environment,” said Mr Shastri.

Mr MacMillan added: “We are quite diverse in our photography because the light changes so much here in Bermuda. Brides will ask us what is the best time will be to shoot a particular scene and we will do our best for them, but sometimes we won’t get much of a choice.

“For example, if it’s midday in August you have to deal with a harsh light, but we try to work around that to produce the best look.

“There are various effects we can achieve in a shoot, such as blurring the background into a soft white, or going the other way and bringing out the blue of the sky or ocean; keeping those colours.

“It’s about trying to find a happy medium, which is always our style.”

Although sometimes things may not go exactly to plan, such as the arrival of sudden inclement weather, Mr Shastri said it was important to “never show frustration and to keep smiling”.

“We do everything with a smile,” he said. “It’s important to make everyone feel comfortable and work through anything.”

If they are both photographers for the day, Mr Shastri usually shoots the men in their preparations, while Mr MacMillan will capture the women.

“One of us will cover the bride getting ready, and the other, the groom. That’s the advantage of having two photographers,” said Mr MacMillan.

They usually take a break from shooting when the wedding party has dinner, and so only charge for shooting time, as opposed to continuous time.

When it comes to videography, he said this brings more of a ‘documentary style’ to the day’s events.

“I always find there’s a huge difference between photography and video, because with photography you’re constantly interacting with the bride and groom, regarding their posture and they way they face and kiss each other. It’s quite intimate, whereas video is more about documenting the day and trying to be invisible.”

Moongate Productions has various packages to suit every budget.

“We will work with whatever budget the couple has, even if it’s only for a few hours,” said Mr MacMillan.

“We have different packages available, or can make custom packages,” said Mr Shastri.

“We have bronze, silver and gold packages, or different options such as video, the fun photo booth and the engagement party shoot.

“The photo booth is a great way of taking photos of your guests. We have various backdrops and props, such as glasses, hats and flags. It’s like playing dress-up and goes down really well.”

When it comes to the finished product, Moongate Productions provides a set of the photos to the bride and groom on a disc, as well as edited versions and a selection of their favourites.

“We might colour-correct some pictures or balance them out,” said Mr Shastri.

“We will also provide a selection of our favourite pictures to the couple, which we feel tells the story of the day.

“If they want any photos done in a more creative edit, we can also do that for them.”

The process takes two weeks to a month, but can take between three and six weeks in the summer months.

For local weddings they usually produce between 400-700 photos of the day, however “it’s all situational”, according to Mr Shastri.

“Documenting an event, it’s tough to put a number on it as different things happen.”

For any destination wedding, the photos will be a priority and the couple will receive the disc of all their photos the next day.

For all Moongate Productions bookings, each couple will receive two CDs of their photos — one of hi-res photos they can print from, and the other, low-res photos that are optimized and suitable for posting online.

There is also a professional prints and wedding book service.

Despite this age of digital technology, in which most people have a digital/SLR camera or smartphone, Mr Shastri and Mr MacMillan say most couples still see the importance of hiring a professional photographer.

“It’s reassurance,” said Mr MacMillan.

“Getting a professional in gives you peace of mind; you know everything is covered and that you will get good results.

“The couple will have spent so much money on the wedding that they will want good results. After the day has ended the wedding photos are one of the things left they will have to savour, when everything else has gone.”

However he said that couples have to be warned about amateur photographers during the ceremony. “Everyone is a photographer these days and we try to warn couples about this, to watch out for their family paparazzi.

“One of my pet peeves is someone taking pictures with an iPad, poking their head out of the aisle just as the bride is walking down it. Also, people taking pictures on their cellphones.

“As the bride is walking down the aisle, all she sees are the phones and flashes, she doesn’t see anyone’s faces.”

Mr Shastri said: “Our contract includes tips and tricks to making your day go along smoothly. This includes advice for each couple to ask their guests not to do this.

“IPads are particularly a weird one, because it’s someone holding up a large pad which blocks their whole face.

“With tablets and smartphones these days, your wedding pictures could be up on Facebook before you’ve even got the ring on your finger. So sometimes it’s best to say something to your guests beforehand.”

The wedding photographers usually have an allocated spot during the service and will sometimes borrow a chair on which to “get some height”.

Mr MacMillan said: “Most of the locations, we have shot in before and so we know where the best places are to get the best shots, but each wedding is different.”

They also have an allocated ‘bad weather spot’ for each location.“If it starts raining, it helps if the couple know where to go,” said Mr Shastri.

The life of a wedding photographer is never dull as they capture a range of human emotions, and the Moongate Productions photographers love their job. Mr MacMillan said: “Young Bermudian weddings are always fun and I like destination weddings, especially when there’s just the couple and no one else — that feels quite special. Sometimes we even have to sign the witness book.” n


For more information call Moongate Productions on 300-5005 or e-mail Website Also see the Facebook page Moongate Productions Bermuda.