Work Life Balance – Siddhu Soma – Wedding Photographer

by pavan
Siddhu-Soma-full Iside

Siddhu Soma is an extraordinary wedding photographer whose passion for both his craft and the world knows no bounds.The founder of Vows, a destination wedding photography company, has a passion for wedding photography that goes beyond capturing picture-perfect moments. Siddhu believes that each couple’s story is unique and deserves to be immortalised in a way that reflects their true essence. His photos are more than just images; they are heartfelt narratives that encapsulate the emotions, joy, and love shared by the couple and their loved ones.

However, Siddhu’s passion extends beyond the confines of wedding venues. He firmly believes that travel and exploration enrich the soul, and he wants his four-year-old son to experience the world’s wonders firsthand. With his camera in one hand and the hand of his wife Bhargavi in the other, Siddhu takes his young son on globetrotting adventures, exposing him to diverse cultures, breathtaking landscapes, and new perspectives.As he continues to explore the world, he reminds us that life’s most precious moments are not confined to a single day but are woven into every chapter of our unforgettable journey. – BY NIHARIKA KEERTHI

How and when did you start your career in photography? What led you to launch your own company?
It’s quite a funny story. I first held a camera when I was studying in my intermediate collage to take pictures of a girl I had a crush on (laughs). I then participated in a photography competition, which to be honest was just an excuse to get my attendance issue sorted, but to my surprise I won the competition. After that, one thing led to another and I started taking part in many more competitions, and when I succeeded in most of them, I realised that it’s not a bad idea to pursue photography as a career. I was loving what I was doing and so I started working with a photographer. This gave me the right experience and practice to start my own company.

I always wanted to take wedding photography to the next level because I saw it no less than any other profession, so after working as a managing partner with another company, I started Vows. It has been six years since and the experience has been nothing short of magical.

How big was your team when you started out and how big is it currently?
Our journey began in a humble 300 square feet penthouse with just two members— me and Vinay Bhadrisetty. After a year, my wife, Ambati Bhargavi, joined us. Today, we are thrilled to have grown to a thriving team of 50 individuals who are passionate about storytelling and capturing the essence of love in destination weddings. Our success and dedication has allowed us to expand, and we now operate from a spacious 4,000 square feet studio located in the heart of Hyderabad’s vibrant neighbourhood, Jubilee Hills. It’s a testament to the hard work, creativity, and love we put into every wedding we capture, and we are grateful for the opportunities that have brought us to where we are today.

Destination weddings have gained momentum over the last decade, and you specialise in it. How is your approach different from other photographers?
We shoot most of the Telugu destination weddings and to date we have covered almost 18 countries. Our USP is showcasing our Telugu weddings at international exotic locations. We also give great importance to scouting and preparation, ensuring that we capture the essence of each location in the most captivating way possible. Our commitment to building strong relationships with our clients and providing a seamless,  stress-free experience, is at the heart of what we do.

What is your favourite part of a wedding? How did you decide on specialising in destination wedding photography?
My favourite part of a wedding is the “first looks” of the family, especially of the parents. Witnessing the raw and surreal emotions when parents see their children as the bride or groom is incredibly touching. Capturing these precious moments up close allows me to connect with the family members and be part of their special day in a unique way. As for specialising in destination wedding photography, my love for travel and storytelling naturally led me down this path, capturing love stories in breathtaking locations and making memories that last a lifetime, for couples.

Destination wedding gives us a different vibe altogether, and our entire team loves travelling, so when our works takes us places, we enjoy and work with more enthusiasm.

How do you make every project look different? Where do you get inspiration from?
To make every project unique, we focus on personalisation, scouting stunning locations, and experimenting with creative composition. Understanding each couple’s individual style and vision allows us to tailor our approach accordingly. Our inspiration comes from personal experiences, fashion, travel photography, art, and cinematic influences. We strive to capture the essence of each love story in a distinctive and emotionally resonant way, thereby creating unforgettable memories that reflect the couple’s unique journey.

Which was the most memorable project that you have worked on till now?
One of the most memorable projects I’ve worked on was a recent destination wedding at the Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah in Dubai. This wedding stood out because it presented unexpected challenges when more than half of our team got stuck due to flight cancellations, leaving us with no equipment and very less manpower. Despite the adversity, our remaining team members showed incredible resilience and resourcefulness. We quickly adapted, purchasing new equipment in Dubai, and ensuring everything was ready before the clients arrived. The event turned out to be a huge success, and we even went above and beyond by providing an onsite edit, playing the films for the guests within 24 hours of the wedding. The couple and their guests were delighted to relive the cherished moments so quickly. It was a testament to our dedication, teamwork, and ability to deliver exceptional service under any circumstance. This unforgettable experience reinforced our passion for destination weddings and the joy we find in capturing timeless memories for our clients.

What advice would you give to budding photographers?
For budding photographers, my advice is simple but profound: empathy, empathy, and only empathy! It is the cornerstone of successful wedding photography. Treat weddings as deeply personal affairs, recognising that they represent life-altering moments for couples and their families. Prioritise emotions over pictures and films, making a genuine connection with clients. Understand their nerves, anxieties, and joys, and be there to support and capture those fleeting, heartfelt moments. Remember that you are not just a photographer but a trusted presence on their special day. By embracing empathy, you can create truly authentic and meaningful wedding photographs that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Bhargavi, you work with your husband at Vows where you handle client relationships. What are your roles and responsibilities?
As part of Vows, my role involves handling all aspects of client relationships. I take on the responsibility of managing client pressure both onsite and offsite, ensuring that our team works with peace of mind and gives their best performance. I act as the bridge between our clients and the team, facilitating clear communication and understanding. Sales is just the beginning; my focus is on providing comprehensive support throughout the entire wedding journey.

During weddings, I become more than just a photographer’s wife; I am a bridesmaid, a shadow, a stylist, a makeup assistant, and whatever else is needed to ensure the client’s comfort and satisfaction. I am deeply involved in making their special day perfect in every way. Sometimes, the bond with clients becomes so close that they involve me in the wedding ceremony itself, like walking down the aisle alongside the groom in a recent wedding we did in Goa. My goal is to be there for our clients in any capacity necessary, making their wedding experience not just professional but also personal and memorable.

Being a mother of a four-year-old boy, how do you manage your personal and professional lives?
Managing my personal and professional life as a mother of a young boy can be challenging, especially when traveling for destination weddings. Leaving my son at home to be there for the bride and groom is never easy, but I feel fortunate that he is very mature and understanding. He manages well without me during those times, which gives me peace of mind.
When I am working, I give my full attention and dedication to my job. However, as soon as I close my laptop or return from a work trip, I prioritise spending quality time with my son. Family time is essential to me, and I ensure that I strike a balance between my work commitments and being present for my little one. It may require juggling and planning, but seeing my son grow and thrive makes it all worth it. I feel blessed to have a supportive family and team that understand the demands of my profession and personal life, making it easier to navigate this beautiful journey.

What is it like to be working with your spouse? How do you keep your work life separate from personal life?
Working with my spouse is a wonderful experience. The best part is getting to see and spend time with him whenever I want, which adds a sense of comfort and ease to our professional life. He is always there to cheer me up, especially on challenging days.

However, Siddhu is quite strict when it comes to maintaining a clear line between work and personal life. We both make a conscious effort to avoid talking about work during our personal time together as much as possible. This separation ensures that we can fully focus on our personal relationship and cherish the moments we have outside of work.By drawing this clear line, we can better balance our professional and personal lives, fostering a healthy and harmonious relationship both at home and in the workplace. This boundary allows us to be fully present and supportive of each other in all aspects of our lives.

Siddhu, your Instagram account is a visual treat. How do you ideate a picture before posting it on social media?
Ideating a picture before posting it on social media is indeed an exciting process for me. I’m deeply passionate about the colours teal and orange, and they have become a signature element of my style. When I travel the world with my wife and kid, I capture beautiful moments and experiences that I love sharing with my followers.

Maintaining a consistent colour palette and aesthetics can be challenging, but it helps in keeping my feed visually appealing and cohesive. I plan my posts thoughtfully to complement the overall theme while reflecting my personal experiences and passions. Each picture tells a story, showcasing the beauty of different destinations and cultures through my lens.

And yes, you’re right! I have a vast collection of nearly 100,000 pictures that are yet to be edited or posted. This abundance of content allows me to curate and share unique experiences over time, keeping my audience engaged and excited about the visual journey I offer on Instagram. Thank you for being a part of this incredible adventure with me!

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
When I’m not working, I love spending quality time with my son. Storytelling has become a cherished activity for us, as it not only entertains him but also imparts important values and lessons. I often incorporate modern technology into my stories, making them engaging and relatable for him.

Another activity we both enjoy is traveling. We have a unique tradition where we visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World every year on his birthday. This special tradition has allowed us to create unforgettable memories and explore fascinating destinations as a family.

These moments spent with my son are precious, and they recharge me with joy and inspiration, making me even more excited to capture and share the beautiful love stories of the couples I work with.

Going by your social media, it’s safe to say that you love to travel. What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Absolutely, I have a deep love for both mountains and oceans. They hold a special place in my heart, offering a sense of serenity and adventure that I find truly captivating. Being surrounded by the grandeur of mountains or the vastness of the ocean energises and inspires me.

There’s a beautiful and fascinating story about the name of your son, Arin Atharya. Tell us about it.
My son was conceived during the challenging Chadar Trek that had extreme conditions of -40 degrees at an altitude of 11,000 feet above sea level, so we named him Arin Atharya that stands for “Mount Strength” and “Moving Constantly”. This is a wonderful way to honour that incredible journey and the boundless love we share as a family.

At age four your son seems to be quite the traveller himself. How easy is it to travel with him? And what are the destinations and activities that you do with your little one?
Traveling with our son has been an absolute joy. We always wanted him to be a traveller, and he loves it too! From exploring beautiful landscapes to learning about different cultures, he embraces every adventure with curiosity and enthusiasm. Recently, he even expressed his dream of becoming an astronaut and travelling to the moon! We encourage his aspirations and believe that our travels together will nurture his sense of wonder and understanding of the world. It’s a rewarding experience to see our little one grow and learn through our shared journeys.

Bhargavi, can you give us any tips for travelling with a kid?
When traveling with kids, encourage their curiosity and love for exploration. Prioritise safety by consulting your paediatrician before the trip and carrying essential medications and a basic first-aid kit. Plan child-friendly activities and pack wisely with snacks, toys, and comfort items. Be flexible with the itinerary to accommodate breaks and rest time. Involve your child in planning and decision-making to keep them engaged. Capture precious memories through photos and involve them in documenting the journey. Stay calm and patient during the trip, and most importantly, enjoy the magical moments spent together as a family.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I envision Vows growing to the next level with a 100-member strong team, taking on exciting projects across the world. Personally, I aspire to venture into cinematography for feature films, a passion I hope to explore in the coming years.

On a personal level, my main goal is to be a great father to my son, being his best friend and confidant, sharing every joy and challenge of life with him. I want to be the guiding force that encourages him to explore the world and discover his passions.Additionally, I dream of owning a caravan and embarking on a grand adventure, travelling across India with my wife and son. Exploring the diverse cultures and landscapes of my own country, creating lifelong memories together, and strengthening our bond as a family is something I eagerly look forward to. Overall, my vision for the next decade includes professional growth, personal fulfilment, and cherishing every moment with my loved ones in a journey filled with love, exploration, and adventure.

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