Barkha Agarwal’s High-Fashion Maternity Photography
February 22, 2023
When it comes to maternity photography, Barkha Agarwal says gone are the days when clients would just want a maternity image with the mom-to-be standing with her hands on the bump, wearing a princess dress. "That's a good to have image, but now clients want much more," she explains. (Scroll through for samples of her work.)
Barkha Agarwal is an award-winning maternity and newborn photographer based out of India. Photography has been her passion for over 15 years and it’s not just images she captures but the emotions as well. For her WPPI 2023 talk, taking place March 6 at The Mirage in Vegas, Agarwal will be showing attendees how to create high-fashion maternity photography portraits that bring an edge to your portfolio and impress your clients. Here, she answers ten of our questions about her class, her Memories by Barkha brand, the maternity photo industry in general, her biggest photoshoot challenge, the gear she can’t live without, and more!
1. What can you tell us about your class at WPPI 2023?
Barkha Agarwal: My session, “Creating Hi-Fashion Maternity Portraits”, is about creating maternity images that help add an edge to your portfolio. Gone are the days when clients would just want a maternity image with the mom-to-be standing with her hands on the bump, wearing a princess dress. That is a good to have image, but now clients want much more. Clients are super smart and do their research before coming to you. What is it that you are doing that others are not—that’s the question I am exploring in my class—and how you can use that to make your portfolio stand out.
2. What are the main takeaways attendees will leave your class with?
BA: As a concept, “hi-fashion” maternity photography is very intriguing. Clients love it. It makes you stand out from the crowd. I have planned a very extensive session on the topic and will be talking about and demonstrating the following:
- Different Lighting techniques for high-fashion maternity photography
- Concept to creation of high-fashion maternity photography
- 5 unique images to make your high-fashion maternity photography portfolio stand out
- Style a client to achieve the desired look
- Editing techniques to bring that final finishing touch to your high-fashion image
3. What is trending in maternity shoots right now?
BA: “Something Different” is trending. I always get asked by my clients, “Can you do something for me that you haven’t done before? Since everyone has access to Instagram, Google and Pinterest, clients are always looking for something new and we need to constantly create new concepts.
4. What do you consider to be a game-changing photographic technique or marketing tip that helped changed your business?
BA: The turning point for me was when I started to understand the play of light and shadows. The impact it can create on your images is huge. Photography—in the end—is all about the story that you want to communicate using the play of light and shadows.
5. What’s something that very few people know about you?
BA: That I did a very extensive maternity photoshoot for myself. The images are on my website.
6. What are maternity photographers doing but shouldn’t be?
BA: They should start doing something different—something which no one is doing yet. Something which is just them. As photographers, we are creators and we need to have a vision and bring that vision to life through our photographs. My heart aches to see that a lot of us have entered a hamster wheel and we are just aping what others are doing. We need to break this and create something fresh. Something new. Something that is truly us. The world is waiting to see that.
7. What advice do you have to keeping one’s work fresh?
BA: Always look for inspiration. I find my inspiration through magazines, crafts and the places I visit. Anywhere I am, I just think about whether I can use this in my work or create something inspired by this. For example, I once took inspiration from the five elements of nature (above)—Water, Fire, Earth, Air, and Space. Then I thought, what is the resemblance that a pregnant woman has for these elements? Then I created images to represent a woman in each element. For fire she wore an orange dress and the expressions were fierce. For the representation of Element earth, I used a brown color dress and the expressions were subdued. This concept was a super hit and got a lot of love from my clients.
8. What piece of gear or gadget can you not live without?
BA: My Canon R5 camera and my Profoto B10 x Plus lights. They are like extensions to my arm while photographing and I cannot imagine being without them
9. What was your most challenging maternity shoot and why?
BA: Almost a year back, there was a client who was expecting twins and was due to deliver soon. She had traveled 50 miles to get the shoot done by me. While she was getting ready at the salon, she started feeling uneasy. The dad called me to discuss as to what can be done? I said that we can reschedule the shoot, but he mentioned that wasn’t an option as she was due soon and they won’t be able to travel so far again. We could have canceled the shoot but the mom really wanted to get clicked by me. So we decided to go ahead. She had booked three looks but I was even ready to do just one. She arrived in some time. We waited and asked her to lie down. We ordered her some lime juice and snacks and she did feel better. We took multiple breaks when she felt tired, keeping our fingers crossed that she would not feel uneasy. Finally, we were able to do all three looks and two months later, we did her amazing twin newborn shoot as well.
10. If not photography, what would your career be?
BA: If not for photography I would have been leading a team of sales people in a large corporate. I am an Engineer and an MBA by education. I have worked into corporates for five years and then left my job to pursue my passion for photography and built a successful business around it.
Awarded with the title of “Canon Maestro” and with 10 European, U.S. and Australian photography awards, Barkha Agarwal is considered one of the best maternity, newborn, cake smash and baby photographers in India. Her brand is Memories Barkha’s class at WPPI, “Creating Hi-Fashion Maternity Portraits to Bring an Edge to your Portfolio takes place Monday, March 6, from 10:00-11:30 a.m. Register here.