Women account for a major part of the workforce today; however, photography remains one of the industries that are still majorly male-dominated. Breaking the stereotypes and thriving as a female photographer is Ridhima Sekhri, paving the path for other women photographers in the industry.
A graduate of the London College of Fashion with a BA (Hons) in Fashion Photography, Ridhima has been doing creative direction and photography for top fashion brands in India since then. She has also created short fashion films for the brands to highlight their brand philosophy and further illustrate their vibe and vision.
Her journey as an entrepreneur began when she founded Surreal Musings in 2014. Based in Gurgaon, Surreal Musings is a photography venture which has been a part of the fashion industry. From being a one-woman army in the initial days to now having a team of photographers, filmmakers and editors, the journey has been nothing short of amazing. In 2019, Ridhima, along with her husband Abimanyu Dahia, co-founded Surreal & Me, the wedding photography venture by Surreal Musings, where she is the lead photographer and editor.
To capture weddings in the rawest and most intimate way with all the intricacies and intimacies that bind the events together is what Ridhima strives for at Surreal & Me. Ridhima and Abimanyu aim to be recognised as the top 5 wedding photography & cinematography couple in India. They work to create emotion-driven photo & film content that invokes feelings of love, joy & togetherness. In the fashion genre at Surreal Musings, their vision is to be globally recognised in the fashion photography industry.
The team of Surreal Musings provide creative direction for the brand offering end-to-end service of conceptualisation, mood boards, pre-production, production & post-production services. They also create stunning short films for fashion & lifestyle brands. At Surreal & Me, they offer candid photography & cinematic films highlighting all the special moments of a wedding.
As a creative person, Ridhima has immense love for photography and telling stories. And this is what led to the genesis of Surreal Musings. She believes photography is a way to be able to express creative direction for a fashion brand amalgamated with the owner’s vision.
While working as a photographer, Ridhima felt that the wedding photography industry was lacking when it came to women as the lead photographer. Wanting to fill that gap, she started her second venture Surreal & Me, with her spouse. Coming from a space of love, Surreal & Me is all about capturing the essence of a couple’s special day of uniting together for a lifetime. Ridhima says, “What makes it even better is to be able to capture this special day alongside my husband.”
Talking about her journey as a fashion photographer, Ridhima emphasises the impact of Instagram and Pinterest on the fashion industry. In recent years, the fashion industry has evolved and grown so immensely. The introduction of Pinterest and Instagram diversified the approach and helped clients and brands embrace creative direction even more. The wedding industry, on the other hand, has been slow to adapt to the changes. Ridhima and her team strive to bring their unique creative direction and vision to this industry as well.
Reaching such heights of success for Surreal & Me has been possible because of the strong foundation it is laid upon. Ridhima says, “The most fundamental value is our honesty and commitment to our clients. We strongly believe in creating a memorable experience for each and every client and creating long-lasting relationships.”
In recent times, the wedding photography industry has become highly competitive. Since photography is considered a male-dominated profession, having Ridhima as the co-founder and lead photographer, and editor is the USP that separates Surreal & Me from its competitors. Another main factor that makes them stand apart from the crowd is that a husband and wife duo are leading the photography of a couple’s special day. Ridhima says, “It gets beautifully highlighted in our tagline: Me & mine capturing you & yours.” What can be more beautiful than a couple who is happily married is capturing a couple’s most important day. At Ridhima’s second venture, Surreal Musings, they always endeavour to bring emotion-driven content to the fashion photography industry. Creating both photo & film content that has meaning and depth.
Discussing success for the firm, Ridhima says, “success is the feeling of contentment we feel when we deliver content that touches the heart and soul of not just the client but the viewer as well.” With their philosophy of creating soul-stirring and emotionally driven content for both weddings and fashion, they have had the chance to work with several clients. At Surreal Musings, they have worked with over 50 clients from the fashion & lifestyle industry. Some of the imminent ones include Dhruv Kapoor, Select City Walk, Amala Earth, Devanagari, Anjul Bhandari, Poem Bags, Kate Spade, Amama Loves, and many others. Their other venture, Surreal & Me, has also done well, considering the fact that two years of the pandemic were not great. Since August 2019, they have shot over 20 weddings.
Starting out as a fashion photographer to starting a wedding photography business, Ridhima had her fair share of hits and misses. She says, “By believing in our vision and work and manifesting a positive outcome no matter what challenges lay ahead of us.”
The pandemic turned out to be the biggest challenge in the journey of Surreal & Me. Ridhima and Abimanyu started Surreal & Me in August 2019, and in March 2020, the pandemic hit. They were barely in the initial set-up phase of their company, and the whole country went on a complete lockdown. Even as the restrictions lifted slightly, they have had trouble finding the right editing and backend team. In the initial days of the pandemic, they had to face delays in delivering content initially. They learned the hard way, the importance of having a strong, efficient backend is equally important as having a strong shooting team. At present, they have an intimate team of six full-time employees and eight freelance members.
Weddings in India are ever-evolving. Every season there is a new trend that gets hyped among people. One of the major trends in weddings these days is making short reels for Instagram. People are thrilled with the idea of sharing their wedding snippets with their friend list on social media without having to wait for the final edited video of their wedding.
In the coming future, Ridhima has plans to expand her work globally. For Surreal musings, she wishes to work more with globally recognised fashion brands and to have campaigns and editorials published in key publications. For Surreal & Me, Ridhima aims to be published and highlighted as one of the top 5 wedding photography and cinematography duo in India. Moving across the boundaries, she wants to capture weddings around the world.
To the young entrants in the industry, Ridhima has one piece of advice to share, "Remain humble and sincere and honour your commitments.”