Rafiya Alam

Thu Oct 28 2021 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


I remember spending my childhood in the nearest drugstore, watching my mom print the photos she captured from the rolls of camera film. My mom always made a conscious effort to photograph all our milestones.

During my senior year at NYU, I took a photojournalism course. My first photojournalism trip was to the Balukhali Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. While I was at the camp taking photos, I noticed how some of the children were amazed when they saw themselves on camera. A UNICEF volunteer at the camp shared that many of them barely had mirrors in their homes at the camp.

Like my mom, I wanted the children to have a self-portrait. The next day, I returned to one of the schools in the camp with a Polaroid camera. I made sure every child received their own photo. Their excitement reminded me of the excitement I had felt at the drugstore so many years ago.

After graduating, I photographed here and there on the weekends while working as a college counselor. During this time, my father was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Due to his extensive treatment schedule, my husband quit his job to take care of him. My job covered the tuition of my master’s program and my husband didn’t want me to jeopardize that benefit. He dropped off my dad and picked him up for every chemotherapy treatment, blood test, and CT scan.

At this point, I had only done a handful of baby shoots. I wanted to bring in extra cash on the weekends to make ends meet. I also hadn’t seen anyone offer this service to our community. After work and classes, I sat for hours on YouTube watching and learning all things baby photography. With all my wedding gigs being postponed due to the pandemic, I knew baby photography was the only way to generate some income. 2020 both challenged and grew my business in more ways than I could have ever imagined. By April 2021, I was running my business from a commercial space in Brooklyn.