After years of taking photos as a pastime, one UTD student turned her hobby into a business that serves campus organizations.
Neuroscience junior Arthi Prabhakar established her professional profile on Facebook in early 2017 after directing the fall photoshoot for her dance team, UTD Sharara.
“Before that, I only took photos on vacation and of my family and friends, especially my sister,” Prabhakar said. “I realized that college was an active environment for these kinds of services, and portrait photography was also something new for me at the time.”
With encouragement from her fellow team members, she launched her page. Prabhakar said her interest in photography initially stemmed from her father, who is also a photographer for weddings and other events in the Dallas area.
“Although he didn’t directly teach me, I saw him working all the time and thought it was something I wanted to do,” she said. “I started learning by just watching his process and that of other photographers online.”
One of her earliest projects was with a UTD alum, Sasha Singh, who now works in the Indian film industry.
“I wanted to expand my portfolio with more pictures in ethnic wear, and I had seen some of Arthi’s early work and decided to approach her,” Singh said.
Sasha included several of the pictures from this shoot in her professional resume, which she sent to casting directors and managers who were interested in her for various acting roles and modeling assignments.
“She was a very good sport despite the cold weather, and she had a lot of input on styling and location,” Singh said. “There were many aesthetic details that I didn’t see or pay attention to but she did. All I saw was barren land, but she was able to turn it into something beautiful.”
In addition to personal photoshoots, Prabhakar has also worked with Greek life on campus. In the fall of 2017, Sigma Sigma Rho hired her for pictures for its members.
“Our original photographer bailed last minute, and several of my friends recommended her to me. I had seen the Sharara pictures, which were great, so I decided to hire her,” said Serena Hingoranee, an ITS junior and president of Sigma Sigma Rho.
Typically, Greek life and many of the other organizations hold seasonal photoshoots in order to recruit new members and promote their causes.
“Although her asking price was $300, she was very fair and understanding with us and negotiated down to $150,” Hingoranee said. “Even then, she edited all the pictures and had them back to us in a week, along with the raw versions so we could edit them ourselves as well.”
After completing several projects for fraternities and sororities at UTD, Prabhakar ventured into other areas, such as stage photography. She said photographing people that are constantly moving on stage requires a different lens and a different editing process.
“I like stage photography because it taps into more of a creative side. I have to capture the movement and emotion of a dancer, constant formation changes or a stunt that may be happening that I had no prior knowledge of,” Prabhakar said. “I can play around more with the lighting and overall editing process.”
Prabhakar is currently working on projects of multiple genres. She is photographing a high school student for her senior pictures as well as covering the upcoming concert of an Indian musician.
“I hope to continue working with student organizations while still expanding my clientele,” Prabhakar said. “I want to learn new ways and techniques to take and edit photos and just expand my knowledge as much as I can.”