One of photography’s most familiar, original subjects has been getting a fresh ‘exposure’. The picturesque outdoors of Theni town, nestling in the foothills of the Western Ghats in southern Tamil Nadu, has long been an inspiration for nature photographers, amateur and professional. In recent years, this rural setting has been a backdrop for another genre—baby photography.
Chandini Ramesh, a 29-year-old mother who bought a camera to shoot her newborn daughter, has converted her hobby into a flourishing business. “I was surprised by the demand for baby photography in a small town like Theni. But that is the power of social media—when friends and relatives saw my daughter Akshara’s photos that I posted on Instagram, they wanted their babies to be photographed similarly, in similar settings,” says Chandini.
Used to flat studio portraits with tawdry backgrounds, townsfolk were floored by the look of Chandini’s ‘newborns’—lovingly swaddled in towels, snugly held up in baskets with props like stuffed toys and flowers and illuminated with soft lighting. Chandini picked up these tricks in a workshop conducted by Chennai’s Amrita Samant, a pioneer in baby photography.
Chandini, who gave up a lecturer’s job in Coimbatore after she got married and moved to Theni, has photographed over 35 babies—the youngest was a 12 days old—since January. Though she initially did not charge anything, Chandini has now put a price tag to her efforts after she invested over Rs 70,000 in props and converted a portion of her home into a studio.
But before Chandini, there were the two moms from Coimbatore who have established themselves as the textile city’s most-sought-after baby photographers. The two friends—Sarvina and Anu, both...