Our interview with Berlin-based Lifestyle & Branding Photographer Roxana Iyengar
Roxana Iyengar discovered her passion for photography during her teen years in Portugal. When she was around 12 and got her first camera, she told everyone that she would be a photographer when she grows up. However, her life hasn’t gone as she had hoped. She was lost and unhappy during her university years.
As a result, she stepped away from society’s expectations and decided to pursue her passion again in Berlin after years. She is now a lifestyle and branding photographer and a mother living in Berlin.
1- Can you tell our readers about your background?
I moved with my parents from Romania to Portugal when I was 9 years old. I discovered my passion for photography when I was 12. Growing up, I moved back to Romania and my environment kind of pressured me to have a more serious career, so I started university. I studied politics and communications. However, I felt so lost and depressed that I dropped out of college and moved to Germany. I was still depressed but then I rediscovered my love for photography. Therefore I started a three-year photography apprenticeship.
Fast forward to today, I now own my own photography business and have a beautiful daughter. My mission is to empower other women and especially moms to start their own businesses and follow their dreams, just like I did.
2- What inspired you to start your business?
During my photography apprenticeship, my boss gave me the assignment to photoshop a client. Apparently, she wasn’t slim enough and her face wasn’t smooth enough. I told him I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t like photoshopping her so much, but the reply I got was “I don’t care what you like”.
Since then I knew one day, I will be my own boss, and encourage women to embrace their imperfections rather than photoshopping them.
3- Where is your business based?
4- How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
I kind of jumped headfirst. Once I finished my apprenticeship I went straight for it. I wasn’t ready & my mental health wasn’t the best. If I could turn back time, I would take some time to take care of myself, and then start a business.
I believe that the first step when starting a business is not starting to design a logo or work on the business strategy, but check if you are ready physically and mentally.
5- What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Definitely social media. Via social media, my clients get to know me and we can connect better which is crucial when having a branding photo shooting.
6- What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Like I mentioned before, my mental health was not the best when I started. I wasn’t ready, so I had to take a step back, take care of myself, and start again.
7- What personal sacrifices have you made throughout your career?
I’m a mom and my biggest sacrifice is being away from my baby. One side of me wants to be a successful woman entrepreneur and a role model for my daughter. The other side wants to hold her and bake cookies the whole day. Finding a balance is really hard, but definitely worth it.
“Owning a business is not as glamorous as people think. It takes up all your time & energy, but if you’re doing it because you’re following your passion, it is totally worth it!”
8- How do you stay focused?
Lists, lists, lists. I need to write my tasks down, and set priorities.
9- How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
I want my clients to succeed, when they succeed I do as well. Rather than just taking photos, editing & sending them to my clients, I discuss with them their goals, branding strategies, and try my best to take the exact photos they need.
10- What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
Social media and my amazing clients who always make people know I took their photos.
11- What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Make sure your body and mind are healthy before you start.
Owning a business is not as glamorous as people think. It takes up all your time & energy, but if you’re doing it because you’re following your passion, it is totally worth it!
12- What’s the best work-related advice you’ve ever received?
Be afraid and do it anyway.
13- How do you manage self-doubt?
Imposter Syndrome is something I still struggle with, but I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, so giving up is not an option.
14- What’s your favourite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favourite app is Planoly. Sometimes I feel inspired and write a bunch of posts, saving them in Planoly. It helps me save a lot of time.
My favourite blog is Jasmine Star‘s blog. I love how she is not afraid to get personal & her advice is always great.
My favourite book is Big Magic. Definitely a must-read for creatives.
15- What’s your favourite business tool or resource?
Lexxoffice. It saves me so much time on the “boring” things like taxes & invoices & I can focus on what I’m good at & what I love.
16- Could you name a woman who’s inspired you the most?
Jasmine Star. We have very similar backgrounds & I love to see how much she succeeded by being herself
17- How do you balance work and life?
I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect work-life balance. Some days I am more of a businesswoman, others more mom. I don’t pressure myself to be 50-50 every day. I don’t even think it is possible.
18- How do you unplug from work?
By spending time with my family, I not only unplug but also recharge my motivation for the next day.
19- What do you have planned for the next six months?
A full rebrand & a lot of special offers for business owners.
20- How can our readers connect with you?