The first cry, the opening of the eyes and that sleepy smile… A baby is the most precious gift for parents and it is no wonder that they fill up their phone galleries with thousands of pictures of their little humans. But when it comes to significant milestones, nothing less than a professional touch can suffice. Maternity and baby photography has assumed significant importance in India over the last decade, with celebrities leading the way with glamorous pregnancy shoots and newborn photographs. 

And at the helm of this movement is Amrita Samant, who through her all-woman team at Mommy Shots by Amrita, is creating the Mommy Shots Experience for new parents. Her focus has been on capturing the stories, emotions and happiness behind every milestone that a family is looking to freeze in time. She believes that children have so much to share and that they are constantly communicating through their actions, and therefore creating a comfortable space for them to emote is one of the primary tenets of child photography.  In a candid conversation with Samira Pillai, Amrita talks about why she does maternity and child photography, and the importance of communication in making memories come to life.

Your website highlights the “Mommy Shots Experience”. If you were to summarise the experience brand Mommy Shots creates, what would you say?

Photo by MSBA

Unfiltered Family Moments

An experience that provides you with the A to Z of your requirements, without having to request for it. At Mommy Shots, we take pride in making our clients our families, treating them like our own, and going the extra mile to ensure they are well taken care of. We like to see ourselves as superheroes… and our power? Well, we can freeze time and help you relive your memories whenever you want with our images.

How did you develop that preemptive understanding over the years? It would be nice to understand the journey, especially in contrast to when you started.
For me personally, the process was a self-discovery. I started the journey with a clear idea of what genre of photography I wanted to work with. Child photography was a given, but it slowly evolved to how I can make this a better place for kids. Children emote natural emotions, ie. they only smile when they are happy. To have them smile naturally for the photo shoot requires a setting that will put them at ease. And not just the kids, it needs to be a joyful experience for the parents as well. So, we actively try to make sure that they are comfortable and give them an easy, seamless and unforgettable experience.

Can you take us through a typical shoot – from the initial engagement with the family to the outcome?
When clients approach us for a shoot, be they new or returning, we conduct a pre-shoot consultation session first. We get down to the minute details, from choosing the setups, colour palette, outfits, etc. I take the time to understand what they want before providing my suggestions, to amplify their visualization. That’s the most important step because after that it’s our responsibility to get the ball rolling, from taking care of the production aspects, to the technical ones.

Before the shoot, we provide our clients tips on how to get ready for the shoot to help them pick the perfect outfit. We tell them to imagine as though they are coming down for a picnic or a play date, to take away the stress of having to pose in front of the camera. And the last step after the shoot is the delivery of images, where we walk through the clients how to select the images they require and provide them with the edited ones right after.

Your work has allowed you to interact with people from all walks of life, from different countries. Please share with some of us the most memorable shoots that highlight the diversity of your work and clients.
This is like asking me to pick between my babies. There are so many memorable experiences on this beautiful journey I’ve been on. The ones I won’t forget are when I’ve seen babies take their first steps ever, in my shoot, and I’ve seen parents squeal in excitement and joy while I try and capture that moment live. I feel so honoured to be a part of these families’ journey, seeing them grow from a couple to new parents that are fiercely loving and protective of their newborns. It’s all so heart-warming so it is difficult to pick one specific shoot.

Every client has a different story to tell, which is why every shoot feels so enriching. Listening to their stories, understanding who they are, and trying to reflect that during their shoots spells out the diverse people we get to meet better than my words.

The services range from baby shower to maternity, newborn, and a few more milestones ahead. Have you had many opportunities to experience complete journeys?

Mommy Shots by Amrita Family Shoot

Start of a New Journey

Oh, I would say that I have the privilege of seeing my client’s little ones grow up ever so often. And trust me when I say it means the world to me, to be able to see that. They are a living reminder as to why I love my job so much. From being barely able to open their eyes, to call me by name, it’s a blessing to be able to witness that. Oh yes, they are forbidden from calling me anything along the lines of “aunty.” They are part of my tiny human friends’ circle and we go by our first names. As to what they say about me, well they say it’s like coming back home to their friend. When I meet my clients, our conversations extend beyond the shoot, we form a bond, a relationship. It’s the bond that helps us to create a long-lasting friendship and good photography takes place as part of our conversations.

The tiny humans or the human makers… Who is easier to work with?
Can I say our ease of working doesn’t depend on our clients and rather on our skills? You see photography extends beyond the gears on hand. You need to have the social skills, the knowledge to handle children of different age groups, quick thinking to salvage situations, and many more! These soft skills are as important as your technical skills. And once you are competent on both levels, who you work with won’t matter because you will have the ability to bring out their best no matter what.

Apart from the families you work with, your work has also been featured in prominent magazines and has enabled you to work with several mommy and baby brands… Do share some insights on how the photography and the work approach varies from medium to medium.
Mother & Baby feature by MSBAOur vision and mission remain the same for every medium, rather our perspective changes according to the technical needs of each category. For example, with families, we try to create an environment that gives them the reassurance to be their true selves. Our aim is to capture their personalities and there is always room to experiment.

When working with brands, we need to balance the emotions as well as the product placement, both need to be highlighted equally well. If one overpowers the other, the message gets lost. We need to make a storyboard to ensure we enter with a plan and adhere to that mood board.

The challenge here would be to work with the same spontaneity, and we do, which is what makes us stand out. Whether it is a regular photoshoot or for a brand, we need to capture the kids being kids – smiling and comfortable. This is what really makes the pictures come alive in the advertisements. At the end of the day, the workflow is the same for each shoot except for the changes that will happen based on the specific requirements.

The phrase ‘normalize sharing of personal moments’, especially in relation to newborn and maternity photographs, has become an oft-repeated one as social media. While it is changing our perception for the better, it is also becoming an easy way to overshare in a bid for attention. What are your thoughts on this?
Being in the age of social media, not sharing can lead to the fear of missing out. Sharing personal moments has become a norm and I would say do what makes you happy. There will always be two sides to any situation or trend. And depending on who you are talking to, one side might sound better than the other. So do not take into account what others have to say about what makes you happy. Do not forget you are in the power of your actions, physically and mentally.

Many celebrities are now sharing their journeys in the online space, making them more accessible or relatable to their audience. It has been a wonderful equalizer in many ways. Please elaborate and also share how you feel your work has contributed to this change.
At Mommy Shots, we pride ourselves on creating timeless images, and the recent shoots with Disha Madan (actress), Lavanya (our client), Rohini (Doctor, entrepreneur, sailor), and others have been making the rounds for the same reasons! It is helping people to realize the importance of having their personality reflected in such timeless images. That is when the real story and characters come to light.

When they look at those images, they will not think about all the adjustments they made to make it picture-perfect, rather they will think about the fun, the joy, and the real laughter that happened.

Breaking away from the usual norm, can either be a hit or miss. And you have to give your best and beyond to make it a hit. I am glad we were able to do so through our images while breaking away from the usual style and focus more on the emotional aesthetics of an image.

Moving to the business aspect of things – how did the collaborations with Sony and Profoto come about? What have these collaborations meant for you as a brand?
Brand Ambassador SonyNormally brands approach you based on your work. These collaborations offer recognition, and they appoint you to represent their brand and products. My collaboration with Sony and Profoto did not happen by chance, but it was a conscious choice of mine to use the particular brands. Both the brands had the same vision and values that aligned with MSBA. I believe in the products and services they offer, as I have been using them for quite some time. Being a brand ambassador is always a step-up for any artisan. I have been able to widen my network, share my feedback on the product and innovate more in my chosen genre.

The team at Mommy Shots is an all-woman team and I read that this is your way of supporting women in the creative field. What prompted you to go this route? Do share a few impact stories where your training and mentoring have enabled a woman to forge a career in this field.
I wanted to hire women to provide more opportunities in this otherwise male-dominated industry. The creative industry is a taxing one, but I wanted to show that women can multitask between their work and fulfilling various commitments like studies, family. That is one of the reasons why I do not 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. We are a community and we all step in for each other. We all have 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 MSBA team! I think that is what brought all of us together in the first place.

I had this student who had come in for one of our workshops from a 3 tier city. During the workshop, she shared her family hardships, troubles that they were facing which were especially intensified during the lockdown. Her story hit a chord in me and we had kept in contact ever since. A few days later she sent me several screenshots of her client’s feedback, thanking me how she had finally started her career in this field and had even become the breadwinner of the family. I was truly happy when I heard that, to know our sessions and the bonds we create during this workshop to have such a lasting impact on one’s life!

Mommy Shots has branched out into the creation of YouTube tutorials, podcasts, e-books for teaching the art and business of newborn and maternity photography. Did this happen organically or is it something you have been passionate about from the start? What is the outcome you hope to achieve from the content you have been creating over the years?
MSBA Photography WorkshopI am a firm believer that “Knowledge increases by sharing not by saving”, the vision behind my online academy, LEARN by mommy shots, where wisdom is shared abundantly! This has been a dream project of mine ever since, but sadly I was so caught up in shoots, travels, etc. that I was not able to put it to action. With Covid and lockdown, came an abundance of time for me to work on this long-term desire of mine.

So why you may ask, well, when I started there was no one in India that I could look up to, the road was unpaved. I spent a fair amount of time studying human psychology to understand the different human emotions, how they branch out and how to identify and respond to them accordingly. So I had no choice but to pave the road with the knowledge I had gathered through the years of experience. And now it makes me immensely proud to see the paved road being used by over 3000+ students, my students! We started by conducting online works and have now created over 20 resources, ranging from e-guides, 1:1 session, video tutorials to in-person workshops! And we will not be stopping anytime soon! I aim to ensure everything newcomers need to know with regards to this field, is made accessible to them.

How has the growth of your business impacted you personally? What are the changes you have seen in yourself over the years, both as a person and a business owner?
It has made me realize that there are no boundaries to what you can do, as long as you are willing to learn. You know how they say, the more you know the more you see, likewise the more I learned the more I realized the greater range of things I could do. Things that could increase client satisfaction, the quality of my work, and life. It has made me more open to new challenges. I have come to realize that I thrive in taxing situations because they force me to extend my horizons. It has given me the courage to put myself in such situations and the power to come out stronger than before.

You have achieved so much with Mommy Shots. What keeps you on point with your business, passion and goals?

Passion is what drove me to start Mommy Shots by Amrita in the first place and it has kept going to date.

How do I manage it all? Well, I keep trying. I continue to be dynamic and that is what helps me to extend beyond my horizons and keep doing more. I put in the hard work when required without complaining or always expecting it to work out. I think that is what matters the most, one needs to believe that when you are constant you are bound to see the fruits of labour (even if it isn’t always immediate).

Where do you see Mommy Shots by Amrita going next? What is your vision for the coming few years?
Well, my goal, or rather a vision is to ensure that every family out there has a framed memory captured by us. Mommy Shots by Amrita has come a long way from just me to have a team of like-minded individuals who are equally as passionate as me! And we are heading on the road to becoming a creative production house and the foundation has already been laid. While I may not be able to elaborate more, do stay tuned to our future endeavours because we have a lot of exciting things coming up.

Our Interview Takeaways

Mommy Shot Tips

Do you want to immortalise your precious memories or are you looking for ways to hone into the memory maker within you? Visit Mommy Shots by Amrita @mommyshotsbyamrita or!

Published On: May 28th, 2021 / Categories: Creators' Dialogue, Interviews /