Gems of Jammu | Manvi Gandotra

Story of an engineer turned to one of the most sought out candid photographer

Manvi Gandotra has been a professional wedding photographer since not a very long time and in a very short time she has become one of the most sought out wedding photographers. Manvi Gandotra, a Jammu born girl settled in Bangalore specializes in candid wedding photography. With over 5 years of photography experience, she has honed the craft of telling stories that capture your special day perfectly, charm your friends and make your parents nod in silent approval. She has captured a wide variety of weddings, from destination weddings set on the sands of Rajasthan or the forests of Jim Corbett to backyard weddings in Cochin. She is also a fashion photographer and has worked with brands like Peroo, French Connection and Lee.

She has a unique style of capturing the moment by not intervening in the same, because then the picture isn't a moment is what she believes in. She believes in seizing the moment at paramount of what comes natural without any prompting of say cheese... In terms of portrait ingenious, what goes down to her skills as a photographer is the way she sees the world. Once upon a time this talented photographer did engineering, worked for MNCs for over eight years and then seized her moment and went from nerdy yet-another-engineer to an entrepreneur.

An engineer by profession, she took photography as a hobby and has always been very passionate about the same. She was a truly fantastic photographer for what her friends always felt. She had a clear vision in mind of the style of photography. Encouraged by a friend for his wedding shoot, she knew she had to give wings to her passion and there was no messing and in a moment she knew that she had found the photographer of her dreams! She found HER and this is her story shared with Jammu Links News

From an engineer to be a successful wedding photographer..., so when was the magic moment when you first picked up a camera and thought ‘this is it!'?

I used to be a hobby photographer, I used to take pictures during my travels and do street photography. I enjoyed the whole process and my friends and family always have enjoyed the pictures. When a colleague came to me and said he wants me to cover his wedding as he was not happy with his current options, it clicked and i thought I should just try this. It helped he didn't take No for an answer. And that was the beginning of an amazing journey.

How difficult was it to leave the security of the stable job and jump into the unexplored...

It was not difficult as after 8 years of working in two top MNCs, I felt confident that I could build my own venture. I had picked up the requisite skills required to lead other people and understand what the customer wants from my sales & marketing stints. So I thought, maybe it is the right time to take the leap....and I did.

Do you think professional training is essential?

Yes...professional photography training do helps in having a technical edge but these days, it is all about how hard you want to get a thing. Thanks to the internet, one can learn anything from everything and skills can be learnt from the comfort of the home with dedicated effort. So it is more like taking classes online and then doing the practical with the equipment, camera in my case offline...

What excites you most about your work? And how would you define your style of photography...any particular things you have in mind when you plan a shoot.

I'm thankful for amazing couples who put their trust in me to capture their wedding day. Being a part of their celebration excites me and creating moments of union of love that will remain with them forever is exhilarating. Just knowing their family and friends, as well as the bride and groom, will cherish the images for years to come makes this job a very satisfying one. I get to participate in the most important day of my client's lives. I have the privilege of telling their love stories. This gives immense meaning to my work. My style is very natural, I do not interfere or direct the couple or step into the event but work to be a witness as the story unfolds.

Have there been any particularly memorable shoots, or standout moments from your career so far? And, conversely, any particular challenges you've worked past.

Every shoot is special and holds a very specific place in my heart. I distinctly remember a destination wedding at Jim Corbett National Park. I've subsequently shot at a range of weddings that involved LK Advani singing a Yo Yo Honey sing number, a wedding involving a Dubai based NRI marrying an American and even a small intimate wedding at 9 degrees in Rohtak. But the Jim Corbett wedding involved carrying equipment from Bangalore to Delhi and then via train to the venue which was by a small river which bordered the national park. This was particularly special.

What're your favourite pieces of photography equipment?

I love my 35mm f/1.4. It is a wonderful lens that lets a photographer tell a beautiful story. It measures closely to what the eye naturally sees, from periphery to periphery hence making it an ideal lens for portraits as well as landscapes.

Do you have any photos that stick out as your personal ‘bests'?

There are a lot of them. But here are three of my fav!


I love the simplicity of the moment. The bride with her exaggerated expression, unaware of my camera...all while acting silly and enjoying the moment. I adore candid moments like this!


I love this photo because it tells a story. The Groom just admiring the bride while she is getting ready with lights reflecting and adding the drama.


This photo is very special as it's not every day that a cat with green eyes decides to photo bomb a wedding picture. The day was perfect, with the sun about to set and the couple sharing an intimate moment and this cat settles right in front of my camera. 

Women photographers are very few especially in India does it feel to be one of them and consistently doing so well?

I never considered being a woman any kind of obstacle to wedding photography. I feel I am sensitive and that helps me understand the couple both behind the camera and in front of it. It feels wonderful to not just try and make place for yourself in the wedding photography industry where there are not too many women photographers but to actually build a business and provide employment opportunities to others. And that is very important to ensure that their moments and emotions are captured well and in an artistic way. I know that every bride wants to be beautiful -- and she is beautiful and it's just a matter of one trying to focus on that while one photographs. If you can help a woman sees her own beauty that is just worth so much.

Whom does u credit your success to?

I owe my success to the amazing people in my life. My mom who is an entrepreneur and runs ‘Reflections Boutique' in Jammu. She showed me how to have courage and how to be persistent and relentless once you have a vision.

My dad, I credit my success to the values he has instilled in me and my husband Ravi who has been very supportive and has pushed me to not settle for good enough but strive to be the best.

Ravi Kaushik is the puppeteer who makes sure everything happens like clockwork behind the scenes that's what your website says....tell us more on the backbone of 1plus1studio?

Ravi Kaushik, my husband is the backbone of 1Plus1 Studio. He takes care of everything to do with marketing & the business side of it while I focus on shooting and team building.

What advice would you give anyone looking to start in this field?

Take things at a slow a pace of baby steps. Take baby steps as nothing is mastered overnight. Try all kinds of photography, try doing a couple of assignments to build a good portfolio and aim to learn skills during the process. The best advice I can give on shooting manual is to just go out and experiment, a simple walk round the park to try different settings and see what happens is a great start. It's also important to be humble and realise that this is not about you but the persons being captured in your camera.

"Hillary Clinton might not have broken the ultimate glass ceiling but women are making progress everywhere"

If you're thinking of starting down your own path, give it a shot for a good measure. From a wedding point of view, we hope the daughter of soil keeps on telling stories through moments as they happen and achieve success in her with images that feel natural and creatively on trend.



Fast, accurate and updated real time local news is available on your smartphone and tablet.