One can’t help but notice the rich symbolism present in Persian wedding traditions, most of which are tied to ancient Zoroastrian traditions dating as far back as the second millennium BC! From the ayeeneh and shamdoon (mirror and candelabras) used to represent light and fire to the kaleh ghand (sugar cones) that are rubbed together over the heads of the bride and groom to bring sweetness into their lives, symbolic traditions abound during Persian weddings! Modern couples usually explore a variety of customs and then seamlessly blend these ancient traditions into their ceremony. In the following article, we will give you essential Persian wedding photography tips with the following key tips:
- Understand The Major Events from the Culture
- Be Comprehensive with the Details of the Sofreh
- Watch Your Reflections in the Mirror
- Be Prepared for a Custom/Personalized Ceremony
- Maximize Use of the Ceremony Site
Understand The Major Events from the Culture
The first step in photographing Perisan weddings is to understand the basic structure and order of events for the ceremony. While you don’t have to necessraily memorize each and every event, you should be familiar with them so that you don’t miss anything. Here’s the typical structure:
Typical Structure of a Persian Wedding
- Sofreh Aghd – Ceremony
- Bale/Kelling – Consent
- Asal – Honey & Kiss
- Tala – Gifts of Gold
- Kalleh Ghand – Sugar Cones Overhead
- Family Blessings
We detail each of these in our article on Wedding Maps about Persian Weddings. Be sure to read those over prior to your first Persian Wedding.
Photograph the Details of the Sofreh
Capture every detail of the sofreh, from the smallest to the largest details, at both wide and tight angles. Each item usually symbolizes some aspect of the bride and groom’s relationship and marriage, and some items, such as powdered sugar, will be incorporated into the ceremony. Plan more time photographing these details than you might normally schedule for other types of weddings.
Watch Your Reflections!
Avoid catching yourself or any other distracting elements in the mirror reflection throughout the ceremony. The good news is that the mirror is usually angled upwards, so as long as you’re not close or above the mirror, you should be fine. While these are things you can fix in Photoshop, you ideally want to get it right in camera.
Be prepared for a custom ceremony
Ask bride and groom during the pre wedding talk-through for any non-typical events/moments. Some brides and grooms modify their ceremonies to incorporate non traditional elements. Other times, wedding couples may opt for a shortened version. Clear communication prior to the ceremony should reveal these modifications.
Maximize Use of the Ceremony Site
The Sofreh is a centerpiece of the wedding and often times a large portion of the wedding couples’ budget. It also makes an interesting, beautiful backdrop for photos. So maximize your time there and consider doing a large portion of your couples session and family formals right there at the ceremony site.
Use Your Intuition and Prior Experience
Rely on your intuition and stay aware the entire ceremony. Remember to capture wide, medium, and tight shots for a complete set of storytelling images.
Designate where shooters will be for various parts of ceremony. You may find yourself facing the audience to capture the bride and groom as they often sit together on a bench, facing away from the audience for part of the ceremony. Either way, find positions to catch the necessary angles and tell a complete and cohesive story.
Be Ready for Petal Tosses
While not necessarily a cultural tradition for Persian weddings, a petal toss if a common event at the reception. As the coordinator or the bride/groom if this will be happening at the wedding so that you can be ready for this moment.
Read the Full Persian Wedding Photography Guide
If you’re looking for more guidance on Persian weddings, we created a full guide to help prepare photographers to successfully photograph Persian weddings. The guide, available exclusively for our SLR Lounge Premium Members, includes information and tips on the following:
- Glossary of Persian wedding terms so you’re familiar with every aspect of the wedding.
- Sample wedding day timeline so you can anticipate and prepare for each moment.
- Overview of Persian wedding traditions, including the sofreh aghd, kaleh ghand, jashn e aroosi, and more.
- Photography tips so you can anticipate moments and create artistic, story-driven wedding photographs.
- 80+ reference images for inspiration.
- Plus more!
Learn All of the Persian Wedding Traditions
More Persian Wedding Photography Tips
We have included insightful photography tips for covering Persian weddings, from the aghd (traditional Persian wedding ceremony) to the jashn e aroosi (reception party), using our experience photographing numerous Persian weddings over the years. With recommendations on where to position team members, which angles to capture, and which lenses work best to capture those angles, the tips in this photography guide will give you the knowledge to anticipate moments and create artistic story-driven wedding photographs that honor the respective religions, traditions, and cultures of your clients.
Visual Inspiration for Persian Weddings
In addition to the photography tips, the accompanying images featured in each section of this guide have been included for visual reference. Culled from the catalogs of Lin & Jirsa Photography, each image directly relates to the topic at hand and should serve to inspire you when you find yourself applying what you’ve learned under the constraints of a real working environment.