Pro­file

Kohi Marri is the per­son to call for mem­o­rable wed­ding pho­tos.

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Un­seen and in­con­spic­u­ous, with a ready eye for mo­ments of hap­pi­ness, joy and even sad­ness, Kohi Marri rep­re­sents the lat­est brand of pho­tog­ra­phers in­dulging in what is pop­u­larly known as ‘ca­sual’ photography or pho­to­jour­nal­ism. A far cry from pre­vi­ous trends re­lated to wed­ding photography in Pak­istan - blind­ing flash lights, large, un­wieldy cam­era equip­ment and stone-faced wed­ding par­tic­i­pants - pho­to­jour­nal­ism has taken the Pak­istani wed­ding cir­cuit by storm with many an in­di­vid­ual re­quest­ing, nay, de­mand­ing that their wed­ding should sport the best there is in color and sepia-tint pho­tos.

A smile, a laugh, the lock­ing of the gazes of two peo­ple hope­lessly in love; th­ese are what has caused a ma­jor shift in the pref­er­ences of cus­tomers ev­ery­where, thus ul­ti­mately caus­ing the in­dus­try to move be­yond the typ­i­cal shaadi shoot. “Peo­ple are sick of in­tru­sive, loud and ob­nox­ious pho­tog­ra­phers who shout at peo­ple, telling them what to do and where to stand,” ex­plains Marri. “I be­lieve ev­ery­thing has to be an or­ganic part of the event and I try to work in har­mony with the peo­ple’s state of mind.”

Cred­ited by his peers as be­ing be­hind the start of the revo­lu­tion of wed­ding pho­to­jour­nal­ism in Pak­istan, Kohi in­sists on putting em­pha­sis on bring­ing out the emo­tive el­e­ment in his photo- graphs. Per­haps this is the rea­son he prefers work­ing alone. “I work alone be­cause the per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with the sub­jects cre­ates in­ti­macy,” ex­plains Marri. “I blend into the sit­u­a­tion and back­ground to get more in­ter­est­ing pic­tures and cap­ture mo­ments that might have been lost oth­er­wise.” Known for his quiet, yet hum­ble, de­meanour amongst clients and fel­low pho­tog­ra­phers, Kohi be­lieves that by keep­ing an eye out for spon­tane­ity dur­ing events, one can eas­ily cap­ture all the sen­ti­ments that go into a wed­ding; be it in the form of the glow on the bride’s face or the ex­pres­sion of sheer ex­cite­ment in a child’s eyes, the lat­ter of which Kohi favours the most. “I do like kids run­ning amok,” says Marri. “I love those pic­tures. They re­sult in un­planned gems, which are the best.”

With a dis­play of such de­vo­tion to­wards the craft of photography and skill in bring­ing out the best in peo­ple, it is rather hard to be­lieve that Kohi Marri, who is a grad­u­ate from the Ox­ford Brookes Uni­ver­sity as well as an award-win­ning pho­to­jour­nal­ist, ac­tu­ally came into this area of photography to­tally by ac­ci­dent. “I took my cam­era be­cause I didn’t know what else to do at my cousin’s wed­ding,” re­mem­bers Marri. “My cousin liked the pic­tures and from there on, it was word of mouth.”

He soon started build­ing a pas­sion for the pro­fes­sion, tak­ing up project af­ter project. “Ini­tially, I thought it would be nice to do wed­ding pic­tures as an artis­tic state­ment. I be­came more ob­sessed with photography over time and sur­pris­ingly, peo­ple liked what I did,” says Marri. “The next thing I knew, my phone wouldn’t stop ring­ing.”

Not only has Kohi Marri be­come a renowned name in wed­ding photography due to his ex­cep­tional skills, he has, in fact, also be­come ex­tremely well-liked amongst his peers and con­tem­po­raries for his gen­eros­ity and mod­est na­ture. “He is re­ally one per­son whom we owe a lot,” say Sit­wat Rizvi and In­siya Syed, the popular fe­male photography duo well-known for wed­ding photography. “When he took a break in 2009, he passed us a lot of his clients.” A great sup­porter of tal- ent as and when he sees it, Marri even en­trusted the pair with the shoot­ing of his own wed­ding.

The tran­si­tion from rel­a­tive ob­scu­rity to wide­spread ap­pre­ci­a­tion has been any­thing but easy, with all the suc­cess and recog­ni­tion earned through nu­mer­ous projects adding a bit­ter­sweet flavour to the whole jour­ney. There have been many chal­lenges along the way, one of which, most no­tably, is the opin­ions of Kohi’s fam­ily re­gard­ing his de­ci­sion. Ini­tially, they did not un­der­stand his pas­sion and per­sisted that he take up a cor­po­rate job.

It turned out that the pro­fes­sion Kohi had cho­sen for him­self was very de­mand­ing; with nu­mer­ous projects on his cal­en­dar. This meant he has barely had any time for him­self, his fam­ily and his friends. This is a fact his wife makes a point to re­mind him con­stantly. “My wife un­der­stand­ably had com­plaints be­cause my work never ended,” ex­plains Marri. “It started out­side with shoots and even con­tin­ued at home. So­cial life was dead and is now even worse.” How­ever, pri­or­i­ties changed dras­ti­cally once Kohi be­came a fa­ther, caus­ing him to scale back and take limited projects dur­ing a spe­cific time.

With so many wed­ding pho­to­jour­nal­ists mak­ing their ap­pear­ance on the Pak­istani wed­ding scene, a pro­fes­sion which Kohi Marri pi­o­neered, it does not take an ex­pert’s eye to see that the trend is show­ing no signs of slow­ing down. For up­com­ing pho­tog­ra­phers hop­ing to make it big in the wed­ding field, Kohi in­sists that they stick to the ba­sics. “I per­son­ally don’t pay at­ten­tion to trends. I fo­cus on keep­ing my work con­tem­po­rary and rel­e­vant.”

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