It’s a beautiful thing when a career and passion come together!

I am Selveena Parmanum, a self-employed photographer from Mauritius. My journey has been rich of experiences – good and bad ones. But when you have the willingness and courage to fight, you can manage it all.

I grew up in a family where my late mum was working as community welfare assistant and dad as a photographer. My parents worked very hard so that we could enjoy a good standard of living and they believed that education was the weapon for a better future. My school days were lovely memories, not only of academic purpose, but also extracurricular activities in Indian classical dance and music. After I completed my higher school education, I was awarded a scholarship in computer studies by NCC-UK. Yet it was important after the completion of my course to put into practice the acquired skills and knowledge. I got the privilege to work for various prestigious companies in Mauritius where I was attached to the marketing and administrative departments.

But my quest for learning new things continued. I wanted to know more about modern business and its strategies. Hence I enrolled for a Business Management course with the Association of Business Executives-UK. It was an enriching experience and through hard work and perseverance, I successfully completed my studies, where I was a worldwide Top-paper awardee in Information Systems for Strategic Management. I have also been an active member throughout my studies by bringing my contribution as a female international learner, where I made a video and featuring a slogan for International Women Day celebration. Since then I am solicited by a lot of students worldwide as an international inspiring figure. This really boost up my confidence and  today I’m able to manage my photography business more efficiently in terms of better customer service, time management and business decisions.

Yet, this wonderful experience was mixed with a life tragedy where I lost my mum in a tragic way. This difficult trauma affected my health at some point of time but it was also a period of transition for me. I found myself juggling with my studies, taking the house responsibilities and also handling my photography business with my dad. I played the various feminine roles – that of a daughter, a sister and a friend … Spirituality is an important part in my life. My faith in God and the willingness to succeed were the key assets to keep me going.

Spirituality is an important part in my life. My faith in God and the willingness to succeed were the key assets to keep me going.

As days went by, I realised that I was more drawn to my photography passion. The one who inspired me and introduced me to photography was my dad. Since childhood I have been fascinated by the photography equipments. As dad was already in this field, it wasn’t difficult for me to learn about this profession. I still remember how curious I was about the development and process of photos in the dark room. At that time, my dad was working at the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute. So I would make it a point to accompany him during my school holidays so that I could understand all these photographic steps. Long ago, photography was a cumbersome process. People were using cameras like Kodak, Konica with film rolls. The development of photos was made in liquid chemical solution and it was a time-consuming process.

With the advent of new technology, there has been an evolution from analogue to digital cameras. These digital cameras are available in various brands like Nikon, Sony and Canon at different prices. Nowadays, digital photography is presented in a different way to the public, and the secret behind digital camera is astounding. It has opened up many avenues for photographers. Photographers can use their skills to be creative and can either be a generalist photographer or specialist in a particular photo-shooting, like news photographers, scientific photographers or commercial photographers where you shoot for fashion and advertising etc…Another benefit of being a photographer is that you get the opportunity to travel a lot. If you want to produce good quality photos that are memorable, it’s important that you look for inspiration. As a photographer, I get inspired by what’s around me, the people, nature and animals.

Yet, a good photo should evolve emotions so that it can convey a meaningful message. Whether you are an amateur or a professional photographer, it is crucial that you master some key skills in order to be able to have beautiful snapshots. In the first instance you should get acquainted with the camera and other photographic equipments by reading your manuals. These manuals are the guidance on how to properly handle your cameras and what are its different features. Different people have different views about photography. But it is fundamental to know your subject, meaning, what you are trying to take pictures of, for what purpose and the place you are shooting, the background, so that you can frame a good picture. For example, you should hold your camera properly and if you use a wide aperture with long lens (200mm-400mm), you will be able to separate the subject from the background. Another tip when taking pictures is to control the exposure through lighting. Natural light is a key point when capturing pictures. If you are shooting indoors without flash, this can often result in poor quality photo by making people in your photo appear nasty in orange-colored skin. Last but not the least, it’s vital to charge your batteries properly and always have a spare memory card on you to avoid bad surprises.

Photography is an art. A good photographer should be creative and have plenty of imagination. You should have an eye for the tinniest details. Your photos should be like a narrative story, trying to convey a message or a subject. One vital character of a good photographer is flexibility and patience. You can take several pictures and still this may not satisfy the client’s demand. But you should keep on practicing, as practice makes perfect. You should also have good communication skills so that you put your audience at ease because you are not only dealing with people but also their emotions.

It wasn’t easy to pave my way in a male dominant profession.

As a female photographer, I have enjoyed the benefits derived from my job but also face many challenges. It wasn’t easy to pave my way in a male dominant profession. Some people would prefer to hire a male photographer to do their job than a female one because they think the male ones will be more rapid, efficient and more productive. Photographer is an on-site job; sometimes you have to go and shoot in places that are risky and at night, depending upon the client request. It might also take long hours of shooting for several, days and potentially traveling long distances. But it is important to know your limit and make yourself respected in your job.

I got the chance and opportunity to work with many people from different classes of the society. I can say it is essential that you master a flexible and patient attitude. You have to accept critics so that you can improve yourself. Just to mention a few, my first experience of photo shoot was a government function with eminent personalities and I had to take specific pictures with a certain speed. I have also worked with various NGOs and for social community centers where I had to shoot for handicapped people, elderly ones and even kids. What I have learned from my job is that when you are patient with your audience, not only do you put the person at ease but also you capture wonderful pictures. What I enjoy the most about my job is the human touch; you deal with people of different emotions and feelings.  As a photographer you perceive things differently, what people in general describe as ordinary may be extraordinary things for you.  At the end of the day, you should enjoy what you are doing.

I have to be multi-skilled to make my business survive.

Being a self-employed photographer, I have to be multi-skilled to make my business survive. I have to look after the admin procedures, do editing of photos, liaising with studios and also do a good marketing of my work. If you want to be successful in your business, you should have a good plan budget so that your finance is worth the investment done. It’s important to be creative, open-minded and action-oriented so that you remain competitive in your niche market. Like Sir Richard Branson pointed out: “Entrepreneurship is about turning what excites you in life into capital, so that you can do more of it and move forward with it”

Across this golden platform, I would like to send a shout out to all girls and women around the world: You are unique and wonderful and are born with talents. Exploit this talent in you, be creative and no matter how big an obstacle may seem, never give up. Always believe in yourself and let the passion in you to emerge. You never know where your passion can take you. You can be up to great things, thus making your dream comes true!”

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