Armed with a MBA, she took to a career in finance, a subject she liked. However, her passion was elsewhere and her heart often whispered to her to return to what was dearest to it: Photography.
It is said that the forces of the universe conspire to unite us with what we
desire from the bottom of the heart.
Yes, Meenal Jaiswal did convert her passion to her profession of choice. No, it wasn’t exactly a eureka moment. The opportunity to change careers presented itself when her husband quit his offshore job to an onshore career. Her heart said to her,
“Psst! Nobody’s watching, let’s escape!”
“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” –Edward Hopper
It went back a long way back. She got her first camera as a gift when she stood first in class one- she was all of five years! Since then, whenever she found a moment worth capturing, her heart went click, click, click. She was brought up in a family where scientific temper ruled, as her father was a M. Tech and mother a history and psychology student. A memory which is indelibly etched in her mind is that of an incident of April, 2004. The family had met over a dual cause for celebration. Her younger sister’s birthday and their parent’s anniversary on the following day. Meenal wanted a family photograph to be shot which was thwarted due to the studio being shut. Two days later her father passed away.
It is this incident which made Meenal veer towards family photographs.Missing out on capturing of a key moment of her family became her motivation. She made clients realise how memorable these pictures are for generations to follow. Her journey began with children and later maternity, mother-child, siblings and generations.
She moved on to headshots when she noticed that the images of CEO’s and entrepreneurs in business media left a lot to be desired. Meenal thought that an Image consultant could help bring the best out of their otherwise impactful persona.
Her formal learning in Photography took place in South Korea, leading to her being rewarded with the prestigious Membership of the American Photographers’ Association. In order to learn the latest and best in the personal portraiture, she looked to the US and was trained by Helen Yancy andJessica Voghel in their workshop in Seoul. Helen, a former PPA president, also gave her a crucial piece of advice.
“You do not want to be a poorly paid artist, you’re a professional. Your art should support you.”
Another key take away for Meenal from her American mentors was that they gave it all they had in terms of knowledge, without holding back or feeling professionally insecure. This made Meenal give back to her community as a trainer and has conducted workshops on photography to excellent feedback. She generously shares her expertise online too, on various Social Networks.
She has learnt from Indian stalwarts Hari Mahidhar, Vishal Bhende andRahul Gajjar, too. Few have the good fortune of being mentored by India’s 1st lady photo journalist, the legendary, late Homai Vyarawalla, which Meenal had. The memorable capture of her mentor, who was wisdom personified, in a reflective mood is a highly prized moment. It is Meenal’s dream to set up a Photography school for women as she feels this is a vocation many women can take up and can create more Vyarawallas , Helen Yancy and their ilk.
Besides her undoubted technical skill, there are other qualities which make her stand out. Her perceptive ability which is of great help in capturing the essence of the subject. The inner person versus the superficial, a skill only a few possess. As a person, Meenal is affable and very much a people’s person- any number of individuals are camera conscious. Putting the client at ease, having her/him in a relaxed state of mind is crucial in getting the perfects shots. The body language then comes across as positive and confident without signs of nervousness or stiffness- the make or break factor in cajoling an image to ‘talk’.
Having reached the zenith of one’s calling, the heart yearns for more. Meenal has begun on a journey which is, of course, aligned with her core passion.
I can imagine Meenal smiling at this very moment and saying,
“Let’s capture your story.”