This MBA grad followed her true calling to become an award winning maternity and newborn photographer
Barkha Agarwal was beginning to feel too comfortable with her life as a corporate employee, and that is when she decided to pursue her passion for photography.
An MBA graduate, Barkha worked in sales and business development roles for five years before quitting in 2018.
“Everything was going well. I had a great boss, great team, and promotions were lined up. But then it felt like there was something missing. As a child, we all tend to dream of bigger things and it was time to chase them,” she says.
Taking a calculated risk, she initially began by experimenting different genres of photography like wedding and fashion photoshoot during the weekends.
"When it came to newborn and maternity photoshoots, I found out that this is something more than just taking a camera in your hand and clicking photos. We need to put all heart and emotion to capture important moments like when a couple becomes a parent,” she says.
For Barkha, it became clear that a photographer is not dictated by their equipment but the ability to capture emotions. This experience became the foundation for her venture Memories by Barkha, an experience studio based in Delhi-NCR.
Barkha’s WhatsApp Business account is linked to the website, which generates 20 percent of the studio’s business. On a monthly basis, the messaging app draws a large amount of her online client inquiries about photoshoots.
While social media platforms play a key role to promote her work visually, Barkha says WhatsApp has become an efficient point of contact to resolve any queries.
“As much as I want to, it is impossible to take all the calls and so, clients prefer asking questions regarding price and the process before a shoot via WhatsApp.”
Sanchit Singhal, her husband who helps with marketing-related activities during his free time, says that besides getting on a call with Barkha after the initial round of inquiries, all communication is followed up on WhatsApp including last minute doubts and confirmationations to sharing links to the picture post photoshoot and discussions regarding the photos.
A leap of faith
Although taking the entrepreneurial route has been a bit rocky without the comfort of salary every month, she says every picture and experience with clients and the support extended by her husband and family members made things worthwhile.
Barkha started getting trained by Australia-based maternity and newborn photographer Anja Macdonald and US-based Ana Brandt, and a host of online training courses. This includes lessons on handling a newborn baby like being mindful to leave enough breathing space while wrapping the baby for photoshoots.
After many tutorials to ensure safety precautions and working on the ground, Barkha is now an award-winning maternity and newborn photographer, having won the Rise International Award. She also became the first Indian photographer to teach at Belly Baby Summit, a global learning platform based in the US.
The 29-year-old offers a wide range of services including maternity, newborn, one-year baby plan, and others based on how old the baby is.
“We want to create an experience and people should know that when we say photo studio, it is not like the studios where you go and get your passport sized photos clicked. We want the new mothers and their children to feel comfortable and also provide them with outfits for the photoshoot,” she explains.
Challenges and the way forward
Barkha says her aim was to offer premium services at a higher price, but the maternity and baby photography services market are at a nascent stage. She found it hard to establish her brand as the market was filled with generic photoshoots available at cheaper rates.
The initial days of managing a creative business was also not a cakewalk for Barkha.
“Whenever things were getting tough and I felt like I wanted to give up, I moved forward with one tiny step at a time.”
Moving ahead, she hopes to conduct workshops and cater to global clients as well.
This story is part of a series spotlighting extraordinary, inspiring women from different walks of life for the See Us, Hear Us campaign powered by WhatsApp for International Women’s Day. You can read more such stories from the month-long campaign here.
Edited by Megha Reddy