It is often said that the equipment you use to capture a frame doesn’t matter much; what matters is the ‘man’ behind the camera! Oh well, gone are the times when this held true only for the other gender. Right from wedding to wildlife, travel to corporate shoots, women have matched up with a relentless pursuit for perfection. Fearless of the common judgements and stereotypes, women can be seen armed with a myriad of lenses and other equipment required for their genre of photography, matching steps irrespective of tough terrains and a tougher mindset. While it is has become fairly common across bigger cities to spot a lenswoman or two calling the shots, female photographers in a smaller city are still struggling to find their stepping. But just like the iconic first photojournalist of India, Padma Vibhushan Homai Vyarawalla who broke into the male bastion despite belonging to the small town of Vadodara, the female photographers from Indore have also conquered the world of pixels, challenges and typecasts notwithstanding. On World Photography Day today, we present some of these lenswomen’s journey, challenges and stories…

“Smile-please!”

Capturing and producing memories of the most beautiful day in a couple’s life incorporates a humungous effort on the photographers’ part. As is the case for typical big fat Indian weddings, more the number of people more is the demand for different and creative angles. One has to shine out to get noticed in this field. Isha Kothari, however, has won over the Indoreans with her hard work and creativity. “Photography is challenging, there is something new always and it’s a constant learning process. With a lot of family support, I have somehow managed to make my name in this genre” says Isha. But getting there wasn’t an easy task. “The major factor pulling back females in this field is the mindset of people who think it is ok to catcall after us. The other factor is trust. Many people in the city feel a man can do their jobs better as they can give more time and be available always. But a lot has changed in the past couple of years and people are learning to accept our strengths. They realise women develop a more emotional touch with the families, during weddings. Even in my shoots, I become a part of the family itself” she adds with a satisfactory smile.

Isha Kothari2

The corporate conundrum

Product photography, food photography, and handling commercial clients is a field that needs a multitasking, hard taskmaster at work. Priyanka Kalra, who has been in this field for quite a while has been wowing the clients with this precision. “A lot of clients are dicey before hiring. They show me reference pictures and ask me will you be ‘able’ to do it. Having passed out from a media college, I had the vigour to learn the art of photography at a better level. So I went to Mumbai and took training there for a year and a half. Having returned, I put up my own studio and decided this is what I wanted to do in my life. Of course, there were people who said that it’s not the best of career options for a girl. Even now when I say that I am a photographer, there are some people who think I am a wedding photographer because that is all that they know of. But I am determined to change that and let my work speak for myself!” finishes off a determined Kalra.

Priyanka Kalra2

Photographing the special bond

There is something about kids and women photographers that instantly clicks, and creates great frames. It may be the natural maternal instincts or the compassion, but these subjects love girls. Paridhi Jain, a renowned name for maternity and kids photography believes patience is the key. “To wait around for kids to give the perfect expressions and movements, a photographer must possess immense patience. I guess it is one of the most difficult tasks for any photographer as they are quite hard to handle. My journey in this genre began when I took some photos of my nephew and posted them online. Getting reviews from an online mentor, I thought I could really take this as my specialiation. The clients really like my work as I am able to bond better with them. I have travelled to Mumbai and Bangalore too for my shoots but I prefer to choose my clients wisely”, says Paridhi

Paridhi Jain

Cataloguing fashion

Fashion photography is a little different from regular portfolios. Styling, makeup, brand management are crucial to a fashion photo-shoot. Manali Soni, who has worked as a fashion photographer since 2009 shares, “I started off with a basic five-week course that concentrated on how to use a DSLR. Succeeding which I joined a few groups and communities related to photography, in the city and went for a few nature photo-walks. Since my dad was into garment manufacturing, I started doing catalogue shoots for him. Then a lot of opportunities landed my way.” Speaking about such kind of photography in Indore Soni says, “I get a different kind of clients and I don’t feel bias much. But the work which was not considered much initially has evolved drastically over the years. The path is now carved for upcoming female fashion photographers here.”

Manali Soni

The travelling lens

Travel photography is one genre that many think is out of the purview of females, as it is a strenuous field. However, passionate travellers like Aditi Sojatia are making it a career and are quite successful too. “Travelling is my first love, and I keep doing shoots to sponsor my trips. I got my first opportunity as a travel photographer, when I travelled to Ladakh and sold out those pictures to a spa chain here. That is when I realized I could continue this. Travelling is enthralling for me, even though it comes with its own set of challenges. I research a lot before I make my travel plans as I like being prepared for them. Being a woman, I haven’t seen much of a gender divide as I always had supporting people around me, but I feel being cautious while travelling doesn’t hurt- no matter if you are a man or a woman. I am an active part of travel communities and groups which keep organizing photowalks and share their experiences which help each of us to grow better as a photographer,” says Aditi.

Aditi Sojatia

Are amateur female photographers ready to take it up as a career?

With the time and encouragement from supporters, the lenswomen have managed to create a niche for themselves, even in a smaller city like Indore. This has also given rise to aspiration among amateur photographers who have been doing it just for hobbies sake. One such dreamer is Aditi Bhandari, who is currently studying BDS and has already set her heart on wildlife photography. “Through the lens of my camera, I see a whole new world which looks more colourful to me than the real world and I feel like capturing it to freeze the moment forever. Even though there are very few female wildlife photographers, I feel everyone who is into any kind of photography has a side of them wanting to pursue nature and wildlife as much. Whenever I get a break, I go on a trip and take my camera along. I love the group exhibitions that happen every year, which give us amateurs an equal opportunity to showcase our talents. Hopefully the notion that girls cannot exert themselves over such strenuous fields changes soon.”

Aditi Bhandari

– Udbhavi Upadhyay

Pics: Arpit Joshi

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