Labourers of love: photographers and videographers in the British South-Asian wedding industries

This project examined the forms of cultural and aesthetic labour entailed in the production of British South-Asian wedding photography and videography. The wedding industries have been identified as second only to the restaurant and catering sector in terms of successful South-Asian entrepreneurship in the UK, and yet they remain significantly under-researched.

Central to this growing industry are videographers who are employed to produce spectacular, expensive and ‘cinematic’ films of ceremonies, using complex equipment such as multiple cameras, glide tracks, jibs, cranes, drones, and radio mics. Alongside their technical expertise, Asian wedding videography companies also position themselves as cultural experts in specific categories of weddings: for example Muslim, Sikh, Gujarati, or Pakistani.

This project, based on interviews with wedding videographers in the Midlands of England, explored how these cultural workers understand their own embodied, gendered and subjective labour practices, the symbolic goods they produce, and their role as both economic subjects and cultural intermediaries – all within a context of ‘contested multiculturalism’ whereby different South Asian groups are unequally invited into the project of ‘Britishness’ (Malik, 2013).