Q&A with Fashion Photographer Helena Raju:
Helena Raju arrived recently to Philadelphia, but she’s already setting bridal trends with her fashion photoshoots and this issue of Premier Bride’s gorgeous cover. Ever wanted to be a supermodel and pose for a cover shot? Helena thinks your wedding season is the perfect time for such an adventure. But she takes out one key part: the wedding. Here Helena tells us why some of her most glamorous brides are opting to capture their special time far from the rush, the stress and the perspiration of their wedding day. Just think, a little less pressure to maintain your cuteness for upwards of 10 hours.
PB: So how did you get into wedding portraits?
HR: I’ve been painting my whole life. I was an artist in Ukraine. So it has helped me with my vision in terms of photography. When I came to Philly, I didn’t know what direction to go first, because there are so many kinds of photography and I just want to make something that will catch somebody’s eyes and you know, get their attention.
PB: Having a separate shoot that’s not on your wedding day seems ingenious.
HR: Yeah, a lot of brides, you know it’s their wedding day, they stress out, they don’t sleep well and they might not look their best in their pictures. There’s so much going on and only a limited amount of time to take detailed, personal shots.
PB: And so beyond just taking away the stress of getting great beautiful photos on your big day, what else do you offer with these shoots?
Elena: I really try to create the unique experience and create something that nobody else will have. For every shoot it takes me about two weeks to prepare. Looking through a lot of books inspires me, a lot of magazines, textbooks and watching fashion shows. I start out as imaging the bride as a professional magazine cover, like a book cover.
I talked to my clients a lot; I talk about background, culture, and tradition. And I tried to incorporate those things in a creative way as well, so it’s very personal and very unique.
PB: So you don’t even need to wear your wedding dress?
HR: Most bring their wedding dress, but because this is a fashion shoot and they don’t have to dance and move in what we’re photographing, we can get more creative.
PB: It sounds like you’re definitely bringing ideas to the table for brides, you create additional visions for them?
Elena: Absolutely, and, of course, during the shoot, I help to create that editorial, magazine-style look, clean and minimalist. I always discuss the styling with my client and sometimes I help to create a dress. I’ll go to the store, buy fabric and I have a mannequin at home and I’ll just sketch it out. Then I’ll put it on the bride and stitch where I need in order to achieve the look in front of the camera. That’s what I did with the photographs you see here.
PB: Because you’re just creating the impression, it doesn’t need to hold up through a reception dance or anything. That sounds really kind of liberating, like the sky’s the limit in terms of creativity. You’re not constrained by things that you would normally be for a wedding and time and things being rushed and getting to the guests and all that. So this is a completely separate shoot and you can kind of go wild creatively.
Elena: Yeah, this shoot isn’t for everyone, it gets pricey. It gets expense because lots of time and preparations go into it beforehand.
PB: Do you ever include the groom in the shoots? Or is it mostly geared towards the bride?
HR: I can include the groom. But, the brides, they like to come by themselves, they are the center of attention. The bride is the focus and the groom pays for it (laughs)
PB: (laughing) He does his part.
HR: But I do have a pre-wedding photo shoot for the couple coming up, it will be a styled Asian photo shoot. So yes, it is possible.
PB: How long do your shoots typically take with a bride?
HR: About four hours.
HR: Yeah, and that doesn’t even involve makeup and hair. To be honest, it goes by so quickly though!