I met Neha directly for a photoshoot and loved the way she had been directing me and my kids. Initially, I thought…This looks too easy, will the photos come well? But…I was astonished to look at the photos! They came out so well and looked natural. I really think Neha is so natural and candid with her photos that you don’t even know that you are in for a photoshoot! Also, I really love the fact that Neha is so open about her life and shares everything in a very positive manner. I love talking to her and she is now a really good friend as well. I wish her loads of luck in her life and business and also owe her a coffee date as promised! Till then read on to know who Neha is and how she is such an amazing photographer!
Neha Basu is the owner of Neha Brackstone Photography and can be reached directly via Instagram.
Tell me something about you and your family.
Born and brought up in South Bombay in a Marwari family, I was always brought up to follow my passion, do the best I can and help as many people along the way. My mum has always balanced being a homemaker and giving back to society by being a part of various NGOs and charitable trusts. My father broke away from the traditional mould of his family business, started his own Energy company and has also forayed into the world of Venture Capitalism. Music, art and creativity run through the family as one of my brothers is an art curator, my sister-in-law is a graphic designer and my husband is a music educator. I have 3 beautiful nieces, aged 5, 3 and 1 and one uber artistic nephew aged 9.
Travel, music, dance and creative art was a big part of my growing up years and I was always making the most of my free time creating, whether it was painting, calligraphy, singing or learning Kathak. Photography to me is an extension of my creative self as I consider it an art form coupled with travelling, making friends from around the world and discovering oneself in the process.
What did you study? Were you a part of the corporate world after your education?
After my schooling at Cathedral & John Connon School, my Bachelors degree in Psychology at the University of Warwick in the UK helped me gain tremendous insight into people’s minds. I stayed back in England to complete my Masters degree in HR as I thought that would be the best way I could maximize my skillset working with people.
I did work in an HR job for a few years, but the dwindling job scene in the UK at the time coupled with recession saw me hunting for other opportunities.
When did you decide to settle down in the UK?
While studying in England, I met someone and after dating for 4 years, we decided to get married. His family in England was extremely close and I grew very attached to his nieces and nephews and often found myself voluntarily babysitting and spending time with them. It was during this phase of my life that I, on the advice of my mum, decided to work on something children related as it would help serve the community as well as bring me truckloads of happiness.
With the job market stuttering, the unique opportunity of owning and running a children’s daycare centre in Derby presented itself and I jumped at the chance. That was my first foray into the world of entrepreneurship and being my own boss.
That is simply amazing! What happened next and how did photography happen?
Almost as soon as I took over the daycare centre, problems began to arise. From insubordination and racism from existing staff to blackmail from the previous owner of the establishment and freak floods that hit the nursery building, the strains both financial and mental were colossal. 18 months on and the problems were only getting bigger.
But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and for me, that silver lining came in the form of taking photographs of the cutest babies and toddlers that were part of my nursery!
At the time, I was dabbling in photography with very basic equipment. It was more curiosity and wanting to explore a new skill with no specific end goal in mind. Showing a few of my photos to the parents of the kids I had photographed made me see the immense happiness in their eyes. Encouragement from them and friends saw me taking photography a lot more seriously in the following year and I realized I had found my passion.
How did you decide to move back to India then?
The stress of running a loss-making nursery coupled with racism was affecting my health, my emotional wellbeing and in turn my marriage. I decided to sell the nursery, but by this point, there were literally no jobs available where we lived. After a year of job hunting and feeling useless and miserable, I decided to take time off and come to India. Landing here was like jumping into the warmest of embraces. I was surrounded by love and positivity from friends and family and work opportunities were coming to me in abundance! It was clear that Bombay was the place for me to be, which also meant that my relationship with England was over. At 31, I started 2 new careers in photography and teaching fitness classes, while filing for an amicable divorce.
All’s well that ends well – I haven’t looked back ever since! Photography has taken me to levels and places that I never thought possible. I have learnt so much about the craft, the technique and the art form of taking a great picture.
Shooting weddings from Italy and Germany to Thailand and Nepal, photographing families in the US, Europe and all over India, shooting landscapes and wildlife in Antarctica, Africa and Greenland, bringing a smile and creating so many unforgettable memories has made this most rewarding journey ever.
My other rewarding journey is the one I recently embarked upon when I met Kunal Basu, who is now my husband and love of my life J
How do you like working with celebrities?
Deep down, every celebrity is just an ordinary person. I am lucky to have interacted and photographed many a celeb from close quarters, but I am even luckier that my interactions with them have been fun, lighthearted and full of laughs. People like Kareena & Karisma Kapoor, the Arora sisters Malaika and Amrita, Hrithik Roshan, Asin, Arbaaz Khan, Shahid & Mira Kapoor and Natasha Poonawalla to name a few are so easy to work with. These are people who were born to face a camera and are beautiful both inside and out J
What is a typical day in your life like?
No two days in my life are exactly the same! I am always on the go and always busy. If I’m not shooting or editing, I like to work on my fitness and yoga. Being a certified Zumba instructor, I conduct these fitness classes in South Bombay. I always make time for my hobbies that range from bellydance and calligraphy to painting and music. Every other free minute is spent planning my next adventure and being smothered by hugs and kisses from my 4 little monsters!
Tell us something about the camera equipment that you use.
I have been using Canon DSLR cameras ever since I started photography and now I use the Canon 5D mark IV with various Canon lenses.
I am the official Go Pro Brand Ambassador for family shoots in India and use all their equipment to get the most amazing and out-of-the-box photos of families.
Along with this, I use the DJI Mavic Pro drone for the most stunning aerial perspectives, the Fujifilm X100F which makes a great lightweight travel camera, and my current obsession – the Google Pixel 3 which I use ALL the time for everything!
How do you manage so much work?
I am extremely organized with a strict eye on quality control. I never take on too many assignments at a time. Quality over quantity is my mantra, which has always resulted in satisfied clients who keep coming back to me for more. I make it a point to strive for the best work-life balance as possible, which keeps me motivated, happy and content.
Tips for people who want to get into photography
Don’t think twice – just do it! Always be on the lookout as that perfect shot may be right around the corner. Challenge yourself, be as creative as you can be, study the works of others and innovate.
It doesn’t take formal training or a degree to be a good photographer. All you need is drive, patience, creativity and a keen eye. Remember, like you, your photos are a work in progress, so keep learning and evolving.
Any tips for us Moms who are taking kids photos.
Most moms take photos of their children with their mobile phones, which are tricky to shoot with because kids rarely sit still J I would recommend a bridge camera like a Canon Powershot which is easy to use and has some more manual controls like a DSLR for those who would like to delve into photography a bit more.
I also teach 2-day workshops on DSLR and Mobile photography for anyone interested!