“I wanted to show that women with various commitments like studies, family, etc. can still work here while juggling all their commitments on one side,” says Amrita Samant.
India is moving on from its archaic concepts of women not being able to manage both a career and a child, and one of the women leading the change is celebrated photographer and entrepreneur Amrita Samant who runs the successful venture, ‘Mommy Shots by Amrita’, operating out of India and Singapore.
For young parents, such photo shoots have become a norm because social media has normalised the sharing of personal moments. Also, celebrities stepping out of their comfort zone, moving on from just doing fashion shoots and sharing the different facets of their life, have encouraged and motivated others to celebrate their own lives in a similar way. Now, many mothers-to-be feel confident about posing before the camera.
Amrita’s work went on to pioneer baby portraiture in India and she shares, “Newborn and creative baby photography has always been very popular in the West, and I wanted to carve a niche back home by capturing moments that families could treasure forever.”
Amrita started her venture with an all-women team. In an interview with News18, she says, “I wanted to hire women to provide more opportunities in this otherwise male-dominated industry. Creative Industry is a taxing one, but I wanted to show that women with various commitments like studies, family, etc. can still work here while juggling all their commitments on one side. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t need my team in an office. We run on an “own time, own target” basis but at the end of the work, we get our work done on time. Spread across two countries, three cities, everyone works remotely except for my photography assistants.”
She also explains how everyone in the team has “the same passion and drive, which is to ensure every parent’s first image of their family or little one will be taken by the Mommy Shots by the Amrita team! I think that’s what brought all of us together in the first place. I honestly don’t think that the dynamics of the team or the work standard will change based on the gender ratio of my team, but having said that, a mixed team can elicit a different school of thought which is appreciated in every organization.”
Before she ideated her successful venture, this double Masters degree holder in Human Resources (HR), was climbing the corporate ladder for over seven years. The decision to start Mommy Shots in retrospect was inevitable because she comes from a family of entrepreneurs with a strong affinity for the arts.
She explains her venture into a previously male-dominated field: “When my passion for photography grew, I had yet to choose which line of photography I wanted to specialize in! I was dabbling into weddings, fashion, and the like. And I have to admit that the barriers to entry were high. But things started to fall in place when I changed my perspective when I decided to pioneer something new! To be honest it was a matter of a brain-wave to combine the two things I enjoy – babies and photography. Thankfully, the month we began, the idea was fresh, novel, and something every parent related to, so there was no going back.”
The path uphill, however, wasn’t easy at first, explains Amrita. Several times people pointed out how it was a “female field.” “My early days were filled with hours going into explaining that this was more than just a hobby/passion or maternal instincts kicking in. It’s ironic though, having a child isn’t unique to moms, the fathers also play quite an equal part today. So it’s quite disheartening to see how people categorize this as a female field. In my experience, working with babies is way harder than working with adults so passing statements around calling child photography an easy genre is a tad funny given how many layers/how much depth is required to be a good baby photographer. Apart from photography skills, it requires understanding children at a meta-level to be able to converse with them given their growing minds at every age we capture. In some cases, we are almost co-parenting during the session.”
Even after seven years of success in her field, what remains constant is the magic of instant connection she forms with a baby every single time with just a smile. She concludes, “Moments I capture become precious because they are forever and will be cherished and looked back upon by families even after 20 years. Their culture, their lifestyle won’t be just a memory from the past to be forgotten by the next generation. Their legacy will be carried forward with the help of these images. That is why every happy mother, every joyful baby, each memorable family shoot motivates me to continue preserving memories for posterity.”
Amrita also contributes greatly to another cause – neonatal babies in intensive care units.
For all aspiring photographers, Amrita also shares some trade secrets: “I think it’s important that we shouldn’t forget the reason they are becoming photographers – to create art that’s unique to them. Perseverance and patience are your best friends entering any arts. The perseverance bit is to help you keep at it while chasing your goal, without giving up at the first loss. This is a field where you win some, you lose a lot… Patience is important because Picasso did not become a Picasso overnight. It takes years of hard work to create good imagery. Practice every chance you get and focus on not just good, but creating great photographs.”