Meet Women Photographers From India's Non-Metros, Whose Creativity Is On Par With The Nation's Best
By: Avinash Kumai on May 23rd, 2016
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It is said that creativity knows no bounds and can come from anywhere. We have also said that nobody understands emotions like women do, and nothing proves both these statements than these women photographers from India’s non metros.  One look at their work and you will agree that they are on par with the best photographers in the country. Not just that, their stories on how to came to rule the roost is inspiring to anyone who is willing to strive towards excellence in their craft.  

We would like to acknowledge and thank the folks at Canvera for helping us collate this list.   

Radhika Pandit, Ahmedabad
Image credit: Radhika Pandit

Ahmedabad might be smaller compared to the other metropolitan cities of India, but what it loses in size, it makes up with its great education institutions. Photographer Radhika Pandit's story also started inside the walls of one such organisation. Pandit studied in Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology University (CEPT University), one of the finest architectural schools in the country, where she explored photography as an elective along with her Masters Degree in Conservation Studies (The subject deals with heritage and monuments of the country). ‘Education gave her a lot of exposure in travel and culture’, she tells us. “From the beginning, my teachers and family always emphasised on enjoying the process of learning and not the outcome, which let me explore a lot of unconventional subjects. Having an architectural background, I started off as an architectural photographer,” enthuses Pandit.  

But her first move that would seal her bond with photography came through when she curated a photographic exhibition in her University. “It gave me an honest feedback, a positive reinforcement, so to speak, but it also gave me a reality check of what the world thinks of my work.” From there on, a lot of architects and faculties approached her, asking to shoot their architectural works, and that was the beginning of it. “If you do what you love, and if there is heart in the work, it shows and is appreciated. I started taking architectural assignments and slowly started exploring other fields of photography,” says Pandit, smiling.   

Image credit: Radhika Pandit

While exploring other fields of photography, she realised that she loved travel and documentary works. More so she loved shooting various cultures. Hence she started exploring anything to do with ‘photo-journalistic people photography’. “Thus, I dived into photojournalistic wedding, child birth photography, boudoir photography, family holiday photography, honeymoon photography, pre-wedding photography and more,” Pandit confirms. Adding, “It psyched me to bring out dramatic and artistic moments out of normal people who had no idea that they could look so photogenic. It’s easy to show pretty things as pretty, to show beauty in the fashion photography with pretty models. That didn’t give me a kick,” she points out.  

Further, it was the time in Ahmedabad where wedding photography by a lady photographer was not common. “Even my family had apprehensions as to why do I need to do such a job as I was highly qualified to do ‘better work’,” she quips. But she saw this as an advantage. “I could use my education, psychological background in understanding my subjects before I shoot them,” she reflects. She started spending hours breaking the ice, conversing with her subjects trying to win their trust. “It is a misconception in Indian wedding photography that candid photography only focuses on tight expressions and emotions,” she explains. Having the background of architectural photography, many of her creative pictures have wide frames. “I like to narrate a story through frames. Also, since I am a lady photographer, many closed communities easily let me in. I could easily shoot women in the delivery rooms; enter the bathrooms to shoot boudoir moments,” she tells us, winking. Seeing her works, she gets calls from couples who are only interested in bold photography. She is far from having a concrete style, but this is what I see myself heading towards. 

Image credit: Radhika Pandit

What according to you was the turning point in your career?

“I do extensive research and I am always proactive in learning from legend photographers. This led me to collaborate with epic photographers. I have had the privilege to work with one the finest wedding photographers from France, Portugal, Brazil, Italy and Romania, and more. I now make it a point to collaborate with at least two iconic photographers a year and work with them. I have developed an exchange module wherein they are invited to India and shoot Indian weddings and I do the same in their country. This is working miracles for me in terms of growing intellectually, culturally, and holistically. I have been extremely lucky in the kind of people I come across who has helped me progress in my journey all time long.

She has also been winning some good international awards off late, which leads her to have quality international clients as well.

Follow her on Canvera here.

Chetana Bhat Telles, Salcete
Image credit: Chetana Bhat Telles

Chetana Bhat Telles is from a small village called Bogmalo in Vasco Da Gama and has been living in Salcete since her marriage in 2015.  She remembers growing up amidst nature, waking up to the chirping of birds and the swishing of the sea waves and cool sea breeze, since she lived near the beach!  

“As a child I was more interested in craft work, music and dance except studies,” Telles laughs off. Of course it was more of a hobby be it classical dancing or learning a musical instrument. “I never completed any of those! I would just get bored really soon and before I knew it monotony would set in. Maybe this is why I never finished my degree in Science,” giggles Telles.   

Image credit: Chetana Bhat Telles

Few years down the line she started worked in Mumbai/Pune in a BPO for a period of 10 years resigning as a quality coach/trainer in 2010. “I had absolutely nothing to do, so to keep myself busy, I took up a seven-day basic photography course. Like other crafts I had taken up, I thought I would get bored, but this was quite the contrary. I was inquisitive to know more, to learn more, the more I learnt it got more interesting and it continues till date,” states Telles, with a relieved look on her face. Soon she dabbled with different genre of photography to find out which would fit her. “From a corporate world to being your own boss, having no steady income was scary. Initially I did have the fear about failure, but that’s where the support of my family, my husband and friends really came through and helped me out a lot and I owe them everything that I am today,” she states.

But the wheel of time had something interesting planned for her and it came to her in the form of make-up artist, Minette Pereira. She remembers Pereira asking her if she would be interested to click some pictures while she does make up for her brides… she agreed. “To be frank, I had absolutely no clue of how weddings were shot, that meant, I had a lot of homework to do – understanding its aspects, as it's very spontaneous than commercial photography,” she reveals. After that, Telles has not looked back! 

Image credit: Chetana Bhat Telles

As far as her approach is concerned she likes keeping them simple yet real, and since every couple is different and they have their own story to tell, she tries working around what they like and what they are comfortable with.

“My perspective applies artistic photography, capturing scenes full of love, joy, intimate and sad moments, expressing their love, opening their souls to all, candid expressions and gestures, which goes unnoticed amongst the celebrations, sharing the warmth and togetherness with family, friends & everyone,” ends Telles.

Follow her on Canvera here.

Richa Yadav, Lucknow
Image credit: Richa Yadav

Photographer Richa Yadav has quite an interesting back story of how she became a photographer. Yadav is half Allahabadi (from her mother’s side) and Jaunpuri (from her father’s side) and belongs to a family of farmers and police officers. She was a country kid living with her grandparents till the age of four and once her father was selected for the IPS, there was no permanent place to live. Her family was transferred all over the state. This is when her mother decided to make Lucknow their home base after she completed her junior high. “I have loved this city and how it is still not so busy and crazy like the metros,” she reflects. Soon Yadav was away (for 7 years) to complete her PGD in Mass Communication from Amity University, Noida and then work for Star News in Mumbai. She tied the knot in 2004 and joined Aaj Tak as a producer in August 2005. “I loved my work, but I wanted to have a family. So when we decided to have our first child, I left my job and decided to be a full time mother. I always loved photography, but after the birth of my first child, I started taking it more seriously. My son is my muse and I documented almost every single day through photographs for four years,” Yadav clarifies.  

Image credit: Richa Yadav

In December 2009, she moved back to Lucknow as her husband got transferred. The first couple of years were hectic, she says. “My daughter was born in June 2012, and it was a complicated one and her survival was a miracle. Once I had some free time after tending to her 24X7 for four months, I started clicking her photos. It was during this time I decided to take it up as a profession but for a niche market. I decided to be a kids, babies, maternity and family portrait photographer,” she says. According to her, Lucknow is a place where finding the right things is a big task. Right from lenses to cameras to props take a lot of time to get. Once most of the basics were in place, she started her studio in October 2014.

“I have seen the work of some good photographers, but I do not have any idea about their working style. The photos are fabulous, but one thing I never liked is how much photoshop they do on a child's face,” she points. This is where Yadav is different from other photographers. Some of them are: she does not book more than one session in a day. She crafts all the props herself, she never rushes shoots, she is a sucker for candid shots and more importantly, she is a mother who is also a passionate photographer!  

Image credit: Richa Yadav

And your turning points? “My passion for photography and birth of my kids were the turning points. I loved my previous job, but I was never ready to give it the time it needed. Further, I have always detested the idea of a maid looking after my kids. This gave me the perfect flexibility and timings to make it work. And thankfully it did. Lucknow is still in its nascent stages of kids and maternity photography and people are still unsure of getting their pregnant ladies, new-borns and babies clicked. Challenges will always there, but it is fun,” she says.

 Follow her on Canvera here

Arpitha Julliard, Visakhapatnam
Image credit: Arpitha Julliard

This Visakhapatnam-based lifestyle photographer grew up in a middle-class Christian family. Julliard's mother ran a playschool, so she grew up with other kids around, which helped her become a social person. “My mother was creative with the school; I definitely get my creativity from her,” she remembers, laughing. I always loved dancing and taking photographs, so my career has now become a partial fulfillment of my childhood dreams,” she adds.

Image credit: Arpitha Julliard

She loves taking natural photos of babies and their mothers in her studio or outdoors. “I prefer actual settings, including fun props for the children, and do not use Photoshop for fake props or any significant editing. I also have a bridal boutique along with the studio, so I have a unique perspective toward brides and how they should set everything. As a woman photographer, the way I work with brides, babies, and parents in shoots is different than the way a man would. The themes I love to work with are fathers-daughters, mothers-sons, and beach weddings.”

Image credit: Arpitha Julliard

Married, Julliard has two kids, and she started her business a year ago. “The timing was right, she says because my kids grew, (now aged 6 and 3). But the last few years have given me a lot of personal experience, photographing my kids and my family; this has influenced me a lot.”

“There is a lot of competition in Visakhapatnam now, especially with wedding and event photographers, many of whom are really good photographers. So it takes a while for people to come to understand my style and what I have to uniquely offer,” she states.

Follow her on Canvera here.

Chandni Dua, Ahmedabad
Image credit: Chandni Dua Photography

“Umm… school and college in Ahmedabad was as vague and confusing as for any normal student and it was only during college that I realised arts was the only thing I can focus my energy on – make that animation, sketching, designing and photography. From all the options I explored here in Ahmedabad, photography was the one that stood out,” starts Dua.

Right from Ahmedabad’s beautiful heritage richness to beautiful places around the border, shooting in Gandhinagar, not to forget capturing all of her beautiful friends, to meeting new creative designers, helped her broaden her perspective in the start.

Image credit: Chandni Dua Photography

How is your style different from other photographers in India – themes and ideas you like to work on? “I’ve never focussed on one genre of photography and with time and inspiration, always wanted to experiment in all types of photography – landscapes to dark fine arts, conceptual, weddings, baby, maternity and product – I have done it all, and I feel every genre has taught me something to take care of and ultimately mixing them all helped me overall. The only things my photographs circle around are emotions. I don’t like to do any shoot that doesn’t involve emotions. I never actually realised when I developed a style, but I love when people recognise my work. This has made me understand my pivot, no matter how much I wander and explore in this field," she states.

Image credit: Chandni Dua Photography

Further, she believes that winning an award at the Asian Photography magazine in 2014, was a turning point in her career, since then, she has been working non-stop. “I believe hard work is the only thing that takes anyone ahead, but the feeling of support, recognition and appraisal pushes the start button,” she trusts.

She also feels that she never faced challenges as far as her passion is concerned – None! In fact, she had been patted on the back for being a young girl photographer so many times that she has forgotten all those rare times when anyone judged her for her work. “Photography has given me a high that some people only dream of. I have faced issues turning my passion into my profession, but that only taught me things and I am forever grateful for every little thing that has brought me here,” enthuses Dua.

Follow her on Canvera here.

Priyanka Modh, Ahmedabad
Image credit: Priyanka Modh

Ahmedabad is growing in each and every sector and photography is definitely one of them,” elucidates Modh. “People are interested in photography, they like to capture themselves and they like to click photos. They are aware of which are the latest cameras, lenses and editing softwares in the market. So much so that there are times clients suggest us things they would like to see in there photographs,” highlights Modh, who gets inspired by people and places while her creativity mode is on. 

Image credit: Priyanka Modh

She also feels that her style is no different from any other photographer. She does not compare her photography with others, and her sole concern is the subject and how well she can justify it. And the turning point in her career was when her photographs were published in a UK-based magazine, World of Animals. “There is nothing better than people appreciating your work, right?”

Image credit: Priyanka Modh

Your challenges? “When I started out I did not face challenges. I was excited and passionate. But, I feel that now I am facing problems because people have more expectations from me and my work. When I started out, I was capturing photographs for myself the way I wanted. But when you work professionally, sometimes you are not able to show your creativity. So yes, there are many challenges in this field, but I think in every business you face the same,” ends Modh.

Follow her on Canvera here.

Anjlika Shekhar, Allahabad
Image credit: Anjlika Shekhar

“Allahabad is a beautiful small city with streets full of colors. Everything about the city is inspiring if one has an eye for it.  The city is the meeting point of three rivers; I grew up seeing the exquisite and inspiring Sangam,” Shekhar starts off. Born in a family of artist, painting and sketches hung on walls of our house motivated her to paint, rather beautifully. “I’ve spent most of my summer afternoons with my grandpa, listening to his travel stories and learning intricate brush strokes. I had made up my mind about not going for any boring 9 to 5 job at an early stage of my life, and that how things accelerated towards the road I am travelling today,” recalls Shekhar.

She started clicking pictures of people first, (not that she did not click anything else) but people on the streets, inside shops, or hidden behind the curtains of broken windows, caught her attention. “I seek to capture essence of human emotions in my photographs, you know? You will find me running after the voice of a laughing child on the streets,” she explains with enthusiasm. While shooting weddings, she never wants to miss the moments. She feels what she captures, and hopes that others relate with the photographs like she does. Interesting, when she is not on the streets, travelling or capturing weddings, you will find her shooting subjects that depict the struggles of women or just appreciating them. If nothing, she likes to isolate herself with the company of stories in any form. “I gather photographs of passions, sentiments, and everything that’s human. I believe that over the time this became my style of work,” she declares. 

Image credit: Anjlika Shekhar

Shekhar remembers the the time when she began taking interest in photography. She borrowed a friend’s point-and-shoot camera; DSLRs were far away from her reach. This is when she came across few photographers’ groups who would organise timely photo walks or meetings – she joined immediately. “On the first photo walk I joined, I saw that every photographer came with ‘their big shinning guns’,” she explains laughing. Throughout the photo walk, all she could see were the amazing pictures clicked by everyone and somehow she convinced herself that to take a good picture she needed to invest in a DSLR as the point-and-shoot camera gave different result which weren’t satisfying her expectations. Since then, till the day she bought a camera, she worked for days and nights, trying to get photography assignments and tried to improve her work, and she finally collected enough money she needed to get a camera. “Since then things have changed for the better. That, I would say, was one of the turning points of my career and I hope there are many yet to come,” stats Shekhar smiling. 

Image credit: Anjlika Shekhar

As much as she loves the city, she feels it has its drawbacks too. “Allahabad is a small city and here women are expected to be either doctor, or teachers. Pursing your dreams may not be a very good decision. The struggles I have endured to prove myself and my decision righteous is quite a story and luckily, I have supporting parents who never stopped me from pursuing my dreams. Apart from the problems that women usually face, the biggest problem for me as a photographer was to find the right guidance. Allahabad has less exposure to the world in comparison to big cities therefore there are very few photographers and few who have technical knowledge in photography. I was new in the field and I didn’t know how to manage things. I couldn’t find anyone who could guide or teach the nitty-gritty’s of handling the camera and much more. How far can someone learn from the internet,” she asks. 

Follow her on Canvera here.

Priya Goswami, Ghaziabad
Image credit: Bharat Aggarwal

“Ghaziabad is quite famous for all the wrong reasons, but being close to the capital (Delhi) is a brownie for sure,” states Goswami laughing. She completed her schooling from Schiller Institute, and since her school director was quite an artist, she was surrounded by creativity in every nook and cranny of her school campus. Photography hugely interested her, and when she was in the sixth her, her mother gifted Goswami her first Kodak reel camera. Pandora’s Box was open, well… sort of! “I was happy, but never thought of taking it up professionally. But as they say, ‘it'll happen if it has to’, right? I became quite active with photography during my MBA days and clicked everything possible in and around Bangalore. I was part of the Bangalore Photography Club as well. My interest in the field grew and I continued to click along with my job. In fact, in my marketing and branding profile, I was looking after design creative’s and official campaign shoots and videos as well. It has been quite a journey settling as a full-time photographer,” reflects Goswami

Image credit: Priya Goswami

Themes and ideas you like to work on?

“I love capturing the moments between the mother and her baby. Also, I prefer to click at the client's house so you would find few typical studio shots in my portfolio. Shooting at the client’s house helps me preserve the moments of the baby, daily routine and activities. Since babies and kids are most comfortable at a familiar environment, it is easier to connect with them when at home. My style is very natural and I avoid making it look too dreamy or made-up. Like I said before it's the moments to preserve that could be revisited any time unlike a shot with a couch in a studio,” she clarifies.

Goswami calls herself a MBA and a marketing professional who always had a passion for photography and finally ventured in to it full-time last year leaving the corporate jungle behind. “While I was in my job, I always felt there was something missing. It was one and a half years back when this longing was too much and I had a hard decision to make – whether to follow my dreams or not. I tried thinking against it but then what had to happen, had to happen. I resigned from my job and started photography as a full-time professional. Not an easy journey though, but looking back, I think it was the best decision I ever made,” Goswami states.

Image credit: Priya Goswami

Being a full-time photographer comes with a lot of challenges. The first and foremost challenge was ‘no fixed salary’ unlike her stable paying job. She was doing photography as a hobby so there was not much investment required. After quitting her job, she took up a course in Digital Marketing and used it to build her website and SEO.  Another challenge was choosing a genre. “I had always loved clicking people, but I wasn’t keen on taking up fashion photography. I remember clicking a friend’s baby and that was it, I knew it then it had to be baby photography for me,” exeunt’s Goswami. 

Follow her on Canvera here.

Bindita Shrimali, Nadiad
Image credit: Bindita Shrimali

Nadiad (Gujarat)-based photographer, Bindita Shrimali started her journey in photography from her hometown. What started as a hobby, slowing started taking shape once she moved to New Delhi after completing her graduation. She I love to documentary photography and adore the work of photographers like Alex Webb, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many more. Like her creative heroes, Shrimali has travelled various parts of India all by herself, capturing people and the things that surround them. 

Image credit: Life of Bindi

Currently, Shrimali has started a company called Cameron India (with a colleague of her) in Vadodara. This company is known for photography and e-commerce services, with specialization in wedding, kids, new born, fashion, documentary, stories and more. 

Follow her on Canvera here.

 

Did you like the work of these photographers? Check out these other photographers from non metros and you will convinced that creative excellent can come from any where. Visit Canvera Classifieds and browse through its huge bank of photographer portfolios.

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Avinash Kumai
Avinash is a dreamer, a music connoisseur and is constantly seeking new things that catch his fancy. Enjoys the silence of his one-bedroom-apartment and loves cooking alone. He prefers genres like rock and blues, and is obsessed with what an instrument can do if it's in the right hands. His all time favourite jams are Comfortably Numb and...   Read more
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