“The most courageous act is to think for yourself.“ Coco Chanel
Many of us have admired the adorable newborn portraits from Rhonda Rogers Photography. An expat of 17 years, Rhonda Rogers herself has a lot to teach us about coming into our own in a foreign country. WSB had the pleasure to catch up with Rhonda and learn about her inspiring journey.
Can you tell us about yourself?
Well, I’d like to think I’m a bit of every one of your female readers…I’m a daughter, sister, mother, wife, BFF, academic and woman entrepreneur. I’m an expat for 17 years now and I’m multidimensional, America born & bred and a foreigner. I love every bit of the best of my two worlds. I’m a dreamer and probably a bit of a bleeding heart. I’m proud but try to be humble. I enjoy some of the finer things in life but I strive to be modest and I’m somewhat private these days with a hint of fun & adventure. I believe in quality versus quantity. I believe in giving not for the immediate return but for what you may someday receive in return. I’ve learned not to have expectations so I relish in the small victories.
Most importantly, my little family of five completes me.
When and how did you get started in photography?
I don’t remember exactly when my interest as a photographer began. I was a young Levi’s model in my early 20’s and slowly I shifted to behind the lens, photographing socially. My professional photography work began around 2011, I was inspired by some very personal experiences. I realise something greater than I had other plans for me. Now, I live vicariously through the Mums and Dads and their gift of life that they entrust to me. I jokingly sometimes offer that they go home, catch up on some much-needed sleep and leave their gorgeous little one with me…forever and ever and ever. I know it’s just a dream, but by virtue of being a woman, I am indeed allowed to dream!
How long have you been in business here in Riyadh?
My business began slowly in Riyadh, approximately in 2012. I took two years off to complete my study at Harvard University. When I returned in 2016, it all sparked up again.
Were you trained in photography or are you self-taught?
Proudly, a bit of both and as in all professions, my professional development is ongoing. I learned knowledge is empowering. I research, read and put it all into practice. It’s a learning continuum and it’s fantastic. My professional training comes through mentoring from some of the most stunning international photographers; for example, Kelly Brown, the dynamic Ana Brandt, whose Masterclass workshops take me to the next level of precision.
What makes your photography unique?
I think most importantly is my photography is emotional storytelling, not traditional portraiture. My work is organic, natural and hones in on wholesome family interaction. Most uniquely is the art of newborn baby posing and the props/accessories of our trade; my vast collection of vintage props and handmade vintage & vintage inspired newborn “itty-bitty” clothing for my trade photography. Lastly, I use the finest professional equipment for my trade, from fixed prime to macro lenses and my golden baby from the United States (not available in the Kingdom); my Einstein Flash unit.
What is a typical day like for you?
Ah, that’s easy. I have three doggies. It’s a morning walk along the golf course, then a coffee and ice cold water on my patio overlooking the golf course, post-processing work, the occasional friendly lunch out or host a friend, then plan dinner for my amazing husband after his ten-hour workday.
However, when I have a newborn session, then it’s all bets off! My morning is 3-4 hours of ‘newborn photography as my hot yoga.’ The rest of the day is post processing and cooling my body temperature.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
Babies! The creativity! The beauty of the end result! My gracious clients! There are, indeed, few words to describe their joy when their love is translated in a photograph.
And of course, working inside of a rather gorgeous photo studio.
What is the hardest part of your work?
Professionally, its “breaking the glass ceiling.” After several years, ups and downs, small success, not-so-small challenges, it happened; the privilege of displaying my image galleries in two prominent Riyadh hospitals. It wasn’t only the hardest part but it’s THE milestone for any professional photographer let alone a photographer in a specialized trade such as newborn photography.
Personally, not much play time. The common Coffee Morning or Compound shopping bus is essentially out of the question. But then again, I’ve long enjoyed my places of peace and moments of serenity.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting their own business?
Believe in yourself…I promise the rest will follow. Take a look around you, there are inspiring women everywhere. I hope I can serve as a beacon of inspiration and proof that trust in yourself will breathe life into your gift or idea. You may feel lonely from time to time, being an inspiring woman can be that way, so don’t you quit. You’ll know when you’ve burst through that first ceiling because some who mattered are long gone and your new connections are inspiring as well as accomplished women. They are brilliant beautiful women and they often speak an entirely different language: the language of success and inspiration. And unfortunately, it should be said, let no one guide you otherwise and never-ever give rise to anyone who has little good to say. That is a personal problem, not your problem.
Where can creative women go to network in Riyadh?
Ah, another very easy question, the Women’s Skills Bureau, Blue Abaya online social outreach, both fine examples of women empowerment, success and support. I’d also encourage some coffee mornings, they are fun opportunities to see and be seen.
Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?
Yes, one by an icon for the empowerment of women and success, “The most courageous act is to think for yourself.“ ~Coco Chanel
Contact information and social media:
w: rhondarogersphotography.com (under construction)