Local photographer Seshu Badrinath is Founder of Seshu Photography, the parent company of Connecticut Headshots and Amata Portraits. In January 2022, he spoke to MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about his experience becoming a business owner. They recently caught up to learn more about what it’s like to be a business owner managing several brands.
NAN PRICE: Why create separate brands?
SESHU BADRINATH: Mostly because what I do for high school seniors with Amata Portraits is not like the headshots I provide through Connecticut Headshots. With Amata Portraits, I photograph high school juniors and seniors on location during an activity or located in a meaningful space. It’s less formal and more action- and activity-oriented.
Some people would ask: Why don’t you just say you’re a family photographer? Well, family photography has its own charm and I do love photographing families, but Amata Portraits is about focusing on the high school junior and senior because they’re at such a crucial time in their lives.
NAN: When and why did you launch Amata Portraits?
SESHU: I officially launched in November 2021. But I’ve been photographing high school seniors for a longer time than that. I just never formalized it.
Amata Portraits came about from watching my two boys engage in activities as a photographer and as a father. I was photographing them, and the photographs started to create a point of interest for my family and friends. That inspired me into thinking: If they’re excited about this kind of photography, why wouldn’t I offer it to other people?
The real goal is to spotlight these teenagers’ accomplishments, kids who have done a great amount throughout high school and are getting ready for their next journey after high school. It’s about photographing them and giving them some sense of self-worth.
NAN: You started Connecticut Headshots in 2009, so you’ve become known for that. How are you building clientele and getting the word out for Amata Portraits?
SESHU: It’s mostly been through being connected to folks in the local community, being involved and present for community events, and offering my services when I can. It’s been challenging because there’s only so much time in the day that you can work on marketing one brand and then you have to turn and market the other.
For Amata Portraits, I’m focusing on the communities surrounding Avon to make it easy for me to meet with my clients. Photography is a very relationship-based business. I meet with the students and their parents or guardians before each session and talk to them about their expectations. So, it helps to be close to the community, where I’m somewhat known.
NAN: Is there any crossover with your two businesses or do you intentionally keep them separate?
SESHU: From my perspective, Connecticut Headshots is geared toward business executives who need new branding collateral. The Amata Portraits side of the business is geared toward high school juniors and seniors. So, the market is completely separate. There’s no real overlap and most people are very happy utilizing one brand or the other. This is not to say that one day I might bring all of my photography services under one brand!
NAN: Was it always your intention to have multiple brands?
SESHU: Initially, I was providing services including headshots for high school seniors and families and wedding photography all under one roof. Part of growing up in the business world is understanding your clients are going to appreciate it if you speak directly to them about what they’re looking for. That’s been the biggest takeaway for me. Don’t talk about all the other things you can do.
I mean, I’m a photographer and I can photograph all kinds of folks in different capacities, in different spaces, and in different situations, but being able to be very specific about what I do and who I do it for makes it easier for clients to connect with me.
NAN: Any tips or advice to offer anyone who’s thinking of taking a multi-branding approach?
SESHU: If you’re starting out, probably stick to one thing! But if you’re inclined to serve multiple clientele, I think it’s best to diversify and keep things separate.
I would also recommend working with a business mentor who can provide you with good advice. As a creative business owner, I used to tend to only focus on the creative side things and I’d forget about the business side of things. You have to remember it all comes together.
If you’re a creative business owner, you need to keep both of those things—the creative side and the business side—front and center. When that’s the case, then you understand how you’re going to split the business into multiple brands. You’re able to do that because you better understand your numbers. For instance, I’m know I need to make a certain amount with each brand to make it the entire business.
Those possibilities are there, but you need to take it one step at a time and work with a business mentor. They should follow up with you and you should follow up with them, so you’re creating a connection with somebody who can protect your interests and be there for you.