Be It A Mother’s Smile Or A Child’s Innocence, Photographer Neha Basu Is Capturing Magical Forever Memories
- IWB Post
- May 18, 2019
“For me, success is when a family I photographed years ago comes up and tells me that they still look at my work and that my images take them into a magical world of perfect memories because that’s who I am really. Someone who freezes a perfect moment – a smile, an embrace, a kiss, a prank, a tear – for all eternity. A maker of a happiness capsule that stands the test of time! That is what photography is to me.”
As she uttered these words, photographer Neha Jiwarajka-Basu couldn’t have looked more like a magician ready to brandish her camera to elevate an ordinary moment to the heights of extraordinary. Being a photographer for 12 years, Neha specializes in family and wedding shoots. But be it intimate gatherings, a live event, maternity shoots, baby showers to newborn baby shoots, Neha covers it all with equal aplomb.
Coming from a conservative Marwari family, where the family business has been the natural career choice for generations, she chose to be fluid, adaptive and decided to follow her heart.
Excerpts from our chat:
What was that one photograph you took that convinced you, ‘this is something I want to do for my entire life’?
Since I photograph weddings as well as children, I had two such moments. The first was at the wedding of one of my closest friends. I was in her room while she was getting ready, taking macro shots of her bridal outfit and jewellery. When she was ready, I could see that she finally felt like a bride and anxiously looked out the window to see the baraat. Taking a photo of that moment made me feel everything she was feeling and the photo said it all. I knew I wanted to capture every emotion felt at weddings and be a part of this magical new beginning in the lives of two families.
My first ever newborn photo shoot was with my niece Kavya, one of my favourite people in the whole world. It took about three hours to get her into such a deep sleep that I could put her into a basket, and about 30 seconds to take the shot that makes her look like the tiny miracle she is. The moment I took that picture, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do!
Aw! That must have been a precious moment. Looks like you are a pro when it comes to children photography, even though they are highly unpredictable. As we know, parents love to click their kids, do you have any tips for them on how to approach the task of photographing their child?
Honestly, with children, any photo that tells a story is great. There isn’t any fixed formula of perfect light or an angle that works best. Children are unpredictable and fluid and that’s how one needs to be when photographing them. The idea behind photographing children is to create a memory of something that they would want to remember. However, of course, there are certain things that do help.
An important thing to be aware of is light and knowing when you will get brightly lit images (shooting from the source of light) and when you will get a silhouette (when the child is in front of the light source, for example, a window). Secondly, taking a photo from the eye level of the child can be interesting because you can capture their surroundings from their perspective. For those who would like to learn more, I teach short photography workshops with DSLR cameras as well as mobile phones.
Often during family shoots, the subjects of your picture may get uncomfortable and may end up giving you evident fake smiles. How do you succeed in capturing the candid moments?
Taking posed family portraits has never been my style, whether it’s in a family photoshoot or a wedding. Every family I cover has their own story, their quirky personalities and things that make them unique, and it’s all up to me to make them feel comfortable and at ease when I’m working with them so I can best capture the magic that follows.
As a photographer, I feel that there must be a delicate balance between building a rapport with your subject and being inconspicuous enough to capture some natural shots. If someone is having fun, their smile will be genuine and you might even get some giggles out of them. So, I make sure that the kids and adults have a good time, interacting with each other the way they usually do. Having a sense of humour also helps.
Sounds like you become one with the atmosphere you are capturing. Tell me, has there been a family shoot that turned into an emotional moment for you?
I once covered a shoot for a child who was turning one and his parents invited all the grandparents and uncles and aunts to be a part of it. It wasn’t an elaborate set up at all. Just at their home, everyone playing with the child a few at a time and then together. It was so simple and yet so heartwarming to see how loved the child was and how much happiness one tiny person has brought to the lives of so many. I love these subtle moments that hit you in a profound way!
Talking about family photos, new moms often shy away from their photos being taken as they feel insecure about their bodies. How do you approach this issue in your pictures?
Yes, this is a concern that a lot of mothers have and they bring it up during the discussion of whether to schedule the shoot soon or later when they have lost their pregnancy weight. Everyone wants to look their best in photos, including me! So I understand where they are coming from. I always reassure them that I will take flattering angles and help them to select outfits that they are comfortable to wear and make them feel beautiful. I also encourage mums to focus on the importance of capturing the love between the baby and mother at that age, as kids grow up too quickly.
But I believe that women should embrace themselves as they are without being conscious of others’ judgement. This is a message I try to give to as many families as possible. We always think that we are doing the photo shoot to show our friends and upload on social media. However, these photographs are actually for our children and grandchildren, who will look back and only see their parents and grandparents as fountains of love and perfection, no matter how they looked that day. The focus in my images is never the outfits or shoes but always on the moment shared between families. The love, laughter, games, everyday routines and silliness that will now last forever through the photos.
I agree with you here. So, has there ever been a shoot where you may have planned everything in advance but at the last moment you had to literally revise everything?
Haha, yes of course! There was a family photo shoot in someone’s holiday home in Alibaug, which was supposed to be a set of parents with their 2 sons. When I arrived, the grandparents had joined along with the extended family.
I now had 6 boys of different ages ranging from six months to ten years and they were on a major sugar rush! Everything I thought about cute family moments went flying out the window and I had to quickly adapt and come up with a new plan. The outdoor area of this house was absolutely beautiful, so I came up with games on the spot that allowed them to harness their energy and run around with each other as well as have some quiet moments finding interesting pebbles in the mud like detectives. The end result was amazing and even the grandparents joined in for some adventures in the garden. Needless to say, everyone slept very well that night, especially me!