Branding Photographer: Empowering Mothers with Businesses

Roxana Iyengar is a lifestyle and branding photographer. She focuses on women entrepreneurs and working moms, her contribution to women empowerment. She talked to Mooi about her passion, her insecurities and her path forward.

Marie Jund
MOOI — Inspiring women

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Roxana Iyengar

I love to see how happy my clients are when I send them their photo galleries. It brings me so much joy, it really makes me love my job. So far I was lucky, everyone was happy with the work” laughs Roxana happily.

Roxana Iyengar is a lifestyle and branding photographer. She focuses on women entrepreneurs and, through her photos, strives to show them in an authentic and natural way.

I just try to show their lives, who they are and what they do, but in a beautiful light. Using my photography skills to make it look nice, aesthetic, but still real”.

A childhood passion

It all began when Roxana was 12 years old, in Romania. Her big sister got her a camera, and she just started taking pictures of absolutely everything. And fell in love with it. When her teachers were asking her what she wanted to do, her answer was clear: photographer.

Somehow, Roxana ended up studying politics and communication, because she heard too many times that photography was not a real profession, that she had to go to university, to be able to do something serious … After two years of studies, she quit, and moved to Germany.

In a country where she didn’t know anyone except her sister, and couldn’t speak the language, she stumbled upon photography again.

I didn’t even have a camera anymore at that time. But I borrowed my sister’s. I started to walk in the streets, taking pictures, and somehow the passion came back”.

Very soon, Roxana started an apprenticeship, where she studied as well as worked in a photo studio for three years. From there, it seemed only a small step towards owning her business.

Entrepreneurship, motherhood and a new path forward

Maybe it sounds silly, but I always wanted to be a boss. My own boss. I didn’t like having to do things because I was being told to do so” laughs Roxana when talking about making the jump to entrepreneurship.

She never liked photoshopping the faces too much. And when she voiced those concerns, she was told that the clients paid to look nice, and that’s what she was supposed to do. “I always thought, when I’m going to have my own business, I’m going to do things my way.”

The will was there, but the path was difficult. “Especially when you are not a native speaker. I’ve just got a lot of forms, pages after pages that I had to fill up. And when I was finally finished with everything, I got pregnant” she smiles.

Everything changed again. When she couldn’t bend down to take pictures anymore, she had to stop for a while.

And when her daughter was born, she found herself looking at a crossroads. “I felt like there were two groups of women. The ones who decide not to have children to have a career, and the ones that give up the career to have children. But I wanted to do both, and it was very difficult to find my place”.

But that dilemma somehow opened up a whole new world…

Empowering businesswoman, one photo at the time

Roxana started getting interested and posting more and more things on social media showing that you can be a mom, take care of your children AND have a career, focus on your dreams.

Being a woman and having a daughter, I thought, I have to find a way to support women. And since photography is what I’m good at, this is my way to use what I’m good at, and what I believe in. Combining these things makes my business”.

She’s trying to combine her love for business and supporting other businesswomen to achieve their dreams. By taking photos where they feel confident, without needing to photoshop their faces away.

I also want to give a bigger part to motherhood. My plan now is to combine all of this and create a safe space for women and mothers, to show them that they can do both. That it’s hard but it’s worth it”.

Making people comfortable to better share their message

Roxana mostly does portraits, and photos showing off the work of her clients. She wants to show the process behind a product, wants us to realize that things are more difficult than we imagine.

She rarely does studio work, trying to make it a bit more personal. “I usually go to my clients' houses, where they feel comfortable, where all the clothes are,” she laughs. “They like that part”.

She talks to her clients a lot, to make them comfortable, understand what they really want out of the session.

Planning before helps. I ask them what exactly do they need, what kind of people they want to attract, and according to that, we will make the pictures. And when they know that they also feel more confident”.

80% of the people she worked with became friends. She understands and shares their struggles.

Usually when someone takes a picture of me I don’t really like myself in it. But in the end, it’s all about showing off how they are: friendly, natural and authentic. The important thing is not that the hair is not perfect, or the face too round, the important thing is what message they share through the pictures”.

Fighting insecurities and finding a balance

One of the most common things Roxana hears from her clients is “I don’t like to have my picture taken”.

You can notice that everyone still struggles with society and expectations. They tell me“I want to have a photo shooting with you but not now because I still want to lose a little bit of weight”. I keep telling them, you look perfect. You can lose weight if it makes you happy, but it shouldn’t be something that stops you from working further on your business. I notice a lot of insecurities. They have some expectations of themselves that they shouldn’t, and it only comes from the outside world”.

But Roxana gets insecurity. One of the biggest obstacles she had to overcome on her way to entrepreneurship was impostor syndrome.

There are so many great photographers, with amazing equipment. I think this is something that many of us struggle with. That it’s not worth it for me to go full time into it because there are so many others, and why would the clients come to me. That was definitely something that I had to overcome. Especially living in Germany and not even speaking german as well as the other photographers. But I’m happy I didn’t quit.”

Roxana is still learning. Her daughter just started kindergarten, and her life-work balance is about to change again. No more photo shootings on the weekends only. Now it can be every day, but only from 9 am to 2 pm.

Some days are good, some days are bad. But it’s important just to focus on what you want and try to do your best. Some days I’m more of a business owner, some days I’m more of a mom”.

A new motto: Mothers with businesses

For her biggest accomplishment, after having her daughter, Roxana talks about the courage it took her to name herself a branding photographer. To be able to niche down. To say, I support small business owners and especially women entrepreneurs, and not try to do everything anymore.

For the near future, she’s continuing her full rebranding. Trying to combine everything, to include motherhood directly. “Mothers with businesses”, that’s her thing.

And as parting advice, Roxana laughs: “Just Do it! I know that you are afraid, but that’s ok, just do it anyway, it’s worth it”.

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Marie Jund
MOOI — Inspiring women

Freelance journalist, Digital Content Creator. I write about travels, careers, everyday joys. Founder & Editor of MOOI https://medium.com/mooi-women-publication