Jina langu ni Aashni Sawjani / Ankit Parmar
Your name and what do you do?
Aashni Piyush Sawjani (AS). I am the photographer /cofounder/co owner at infinity photography and a part time law student .
Ankit Parmar (AP). I am a full time photographer/owner/founder at Infinity Photography
What other type of photography do you do apart from Wedding photography?
AS: We do anything and everything. We specialize in weddings. But other than that we do customized shoots too. Be it for newborns, kids, maternity, families, couples or even pets and solo portraits. We also do product and model portfolios as well as events and parties
AP: We specialize in wedding photography, but we also do model portfolios, parties and events as well as product/business portfolios.
How is photography perceived in Mombasa?
AS: Having lived in Kenya all my life, but studied in the UK, I can say the perception of photography in Mombasa has a long long way to progress. For most people photography is still about standing in a row staring into the camera lens and getting a picture clicked. We have had instances when people have told us they didn’t like the pictures because they were too candid.
Yes, it is progressing, people now focus on smaller details of events, and they want candid photography as opposed to the scripted poses. People are more open to experimenting. But there is still a long way to go
AP: I have lived in Mombasa all my life, and overtime I can at least admit that the perception towards photography is slowly changing but there is still a long way to go. Albeit its growth, you still come across people who think photography is only about big equipment just taking a photo, but there is still a long way to go. People suddenly claim to be photographers but they forget that it is not about just the DSLR. There is a process after too. The editing.
Furthermore, we still get people who want good work but at ancient costs.
Yes the capital- Nairobi has more scope for growth, but perceptions are changing slowly
Does your gender difference affect your business?
AS: In many ways. Yes.
I am the only Hindu girl doing photography probably in Mombasa. And for a girl to be seen late out at night taking pictures at a party is ‘awkward’ sometimes they ask only for Ankit
In other instances my gender helps in getting the job. As they need a female photographer only. It has its perks and lows like all jobs. But I wish it wasn’t my Gender that affected the jobs we get or don’t get. And it was solely based on the kind of work we do.
AP: In some ways, yes. With a lot of males out there who are also in the business a lot of comparison is a lot of comparison that happens in the initial stages of discussions and meetings with clients, it is then up to me to show them my work and convince them that my style is different and the work is good.
Furthermore, a lot of events we cover need a female photographer only making it another difficult problem to tackle on my own if my partner is away on a different job or unavailable at that time
How does it feel working together?
AS: Working together is always amazing. I have known Ankit for 8 years out of which for 3 years we have been business partners. It is always good working with someone you are friends with. Not only does it make the work load less but the work seems more like a big party.
AP: It’s a great feeling, we both love photography and we are not just business partners but friends too. So every event we cover is like a fun party that we are both attending. Yes we have our differences. Her editing style is different to mine. She prefers smaller details I like capturing faces but I think that is what makes our work so unique. We are two different people with 2 different ideas and mindsets coming together to make one big final picture
How do you deal with the culture, where a male and female working together is considered taboo?
AS: It has been hard. Being the daughter of someone well known and respected in town, moreover, being an Indian girl, doing photography with a man it has been challenging. When we started off people were more concerned about the kind of relation we share professionally as opposed to the work we do. The community was cautious when hiring us. And there were instances when even our parents had been asked questions that would make a normal person squirm.
It is rather sad actually, in a world that is progressing so fast the genders of 2 business partners impact the kind of work they do. It was definitely very hard in the beginning, but eventually, our parents, our close friends, and us aswell, told ourselves, that we should stop paying attention to these things. We just kept going doing what we did. We took the negativity in our stride and worked to better ourselves, and today the same people who were more concerned about this boy-girl partnership are the ones waiting for a booking.
Through this we definitely learnt. People are going to talk. You just got to believe in what you are doing and hope that one day the work you do will be enough.
AP: Initially it used to annoy me. Because more than the work we did, it was our relation as business partners that people were more concerned about. It is unfortunate that in such day and age these barriers and taboos exist. But Aashni and I have both decided the best way to deal with this is to let people talk and ignore them. We just look past it and do what we love with the hope that one day our work itself will be enough to break past these barriers
What is the most challenging part about being a photographer?
AS: The whole process actually. People think photographers do nothing. They just come. Click pictures. Print them and give them to you.
They forget that we face competition from 20 other photographers; they forget that our equipment cost fortunes. They forget that while they dance and enjoy the event we are constantly on our feet battling aunties and kids to try get decent shots and starving. And even then, after the event is over, we spend hours in front of a laptop screen editing and compiling pictures.
Other than that, I think, trying to make each and every photography job different and unique from the previous job. Its missions
AP: I think personally for me it is the editing process. Taking the pictures is the easy thing. But after the events are over and everyone else is going about their merry lives, we spend countless hours and sleepless nights getting the final product ready. Making sure we are delivering the absolute best work and still making it stand out- keeping it unique. It can be a tedious job.
Tell us 3 best photography tips that help in getting the best shot
AS: For the photographer?
You need to be fast. There are so many moments and expressions that you can capture in an event. Often times the photographer isn’t fast or attentive. And miss out a potentially amazing picture. Speed matters
Patience. Events can go on for hours. Sometimes to get that one picture you have to take 20 others. Patience is essential
Knowledge- I think doing background research, communicating with the clients, asking them of what they want etc is essential. In order to deliver a perfect job
Smile. More often than not people get so caught up they forget to smile. If you want a perfect picture, smile.
Be confident. If the client is happy in their own body and not cautious their photographs shine
Wear something comfortable- often times in attempts to looks stylish clients sacrifice their comfort which shows in their pictures too.
AP: Communicate- it is so vital to have clear communication between the photographer and client so we understand exactly what you need and can help you achieve exactly that.
Laughter- if you can get the people in front of your frame or even those around you to loosen up and just be comfortable you have conquered half the battle
Confidence- in myself as the photographer as well as for the clients too.
If I am not confident with my work, it will show. I will not be able to instruct my client to stand a certain way or to smile more and in the end the photos turn up dull and lifeless.
Likewise as clients be confident, your photographer is being paid to do a good job. Stop stressing, stand straight, look into the lens, and smile more. And you will see the difference
Share your best photos
AS Thank you so much for this interview. We have lost many opportunities as mentioned above because of us being 2 people. People only want to often interview one or the other, so thank you
Other than that, make sure you hire us! I kid. It has been a roller coaster ride. We have had our ups and downs but the growth of infinity makes my heart bema with pride it’s so nice to see clients appreciate our work. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our families. We can only hope that we can keep delivering and doing what we do for years to come.
AP: It has been a good three years. Progress has been slow but we are thankful. We pride to deliver quality and be accommodating as photographers. We love people and being a part of celebrations. We understand the importance of photographs being captured as a way to store memories forever. We can only thank the almighty for giving us the strength and ability to look past the problems and carry on with this journey.
For More of their work check their website : http://infinityphotography.co.ke/
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