Behind The Lens With The Ever Zealous Founder Of Studio 31!
The corporate world though might appear buttoned down from the outside but in reality, it is far more interesting than you might think. Most successful entrepreneurs are known to have fascinating characters, both at work and in their personal lives. And maybe it’s their colourful and defying nature that sets them apart as achievers. After all, following by the book doesn’t often make for a successful business! The journey of Pranesh Padmanabhan, founder of Studio 31, as one of the premium wedding photographers in Chennai, is equally interesting and inspiring. Talking to Pranesh reaffirmed our belief in achieving success by pursuing one’s passion. Here is his exclusive story about finding his passion, photography, career and Studio 31.
Meet Pranesh Padmanabhan
At the time when photography was trivialized for being better off as a hobby, Pranesh Padmanabhan dared to consider it as a career option. Since he started as a fulltime photographer in 2011, he has emerged as one of the premium photographers in Chennai. The Hindu, Economic Times, The New Indian Express etc have often featured and praised his success story. Born in Chennai, he lived in the UAE till he completed his schooling. He says “I made the typical choice that every Indian teenager makes – to pursue engineering. However, I soon realized that engineering is not my thing and that entrepreneurship was my calling.” As a natural progression, he undertook a course specializing in marketing and advertising. Eventually, he decided to ditch his consultant job at an IT company to follow his dream. And he has not looked back since.
He recollects “I was always passionate about photography and enjoyed capturing the emotions of people and moments. There was always an urge to express my work through a creative medium.” As a result, becoming a full-fledged photographer was only an obvious move to combine his passion for creative photography and entrepreneurial desires. And that’s how Studio 31 was born.
Completely self-taught, he had no prior formal training or mentor. It took him years of study and practice to master variables like lighting, equipment optimization, etc. Therefore, everything he knows is through collaboration and experimentation. According to him developing an aesthetic sense is an evolving process and as a skilled photographer, one should be able to communicate clearly with visuals over words. He believes in “capturing the moment as it is”. Hence, one can’t help but notice the sheer candidness in his images.
Journey To Success
Over the years as a professional photographer, he has won several accolades for his work. However, the fact that he could prove “you don’t need to own cameras or shooting gear to run a successful photography company” tops his list of achievements. Starting off with zero capital investment, no crew or cameras, Studio 31, has grown leaps and bounds at a remarkable pace.
The road to success is not always an easy one. As a first generation entrepreneur, Pranesh had his shares of roadblocks but “never a moment of doubt”. At a time when “wedding photography was not considered a valid potential business”, getting a loan was a major challenge. It took him 5 years and 38 bank rejections to finally secure a business loan. “Setting up a standardized workflow for this unorganized business sector” was yet another difficulty. However, with the help of his team, he could create benchmarks and standardize procedures for the different departments. Their efforts paid off as “Studio 31 was the first photography company in India to get ISO 9001-2000 certification.”
About Studio 31
Undoubtedly, Studio 31 is one of India’s biggest wedding photography companies delivering approximately 300 weddings a year. In a short span of 8 years, they have covered weddings in 41 cities. They operate with the largest network of over 200 talented photographers and cinematographers. Likewise, they have a workforce of 25+ full-time employees and stringent operating procedures. Building a strong customer relationship is their highest priority. And they almost never fail to exceed the customer’s expectations! It is supported by the underlying fact that till date they have worked with over 1800 happy couples.
Likewise, more than 55% of their customers are through referrals! As a result, competition has never been a concern for Pranesh and his team. Innovation is deep-rooted in every fabric of Studio 31 and not only limited to creativity. As a result, they are constantly on the lookout to improve customer experience through superior quality of service.
At the core of Studio 31, lies a team of extremely talented and enthusiastic workforce with different backgrounds and skill sets. As a result, Pranesh who has a keen eye for talent takes immense “pride in his team”. Each one of them has an interesting story of ups and downs and understands the value of success. He strongly believes that “this is the kind of people who have the potential to make significant changes in the industry.” Needless to say, the team is instrumental in keeping the tempo of daily work going at Studio 31.
Being one of the top wedding photographers in Chennai in one thing and maintaining the status in another. Consistency in service is the key to success. Hence, the constant process of “improvising, re-visiting strategies and innovating” is always part of Studio 31’s goal map. Furthermore, Pranesh wants to focus on implementing new technologies to improve customer support. He wants Studio 31 to adopt advanced techniques and globally proven strategies to solve local industry issues. He concludes affirmatively “It is just the beginning”
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Also published on Medium.