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An Open Letter To Shahnaz Husain After She Rejected Me For Being A Woman Photographer

On May 4, the Shahnaz Husain Group called me to their office for a photography job opening. On May 5, I had an hour-long conversation with the HR team regarding the shoots. Once we finalised everything, they took me to Shahnaz Husain’s house to meet her in person and proceed.

I waited for an hour and when she finally came, she didn’t see my portfolio, she didn’t see my CV and straightaway turned to her manager and said, “I don‘t want a woman to do my shoot. I don’t think women can do photography. Please assign her some other desk job but not this. Later there are issues with them regarding security and working late hours. Please get a male photographer for me.”

Her team, told her, ‘She is perfect for the job and please look at her portfolio once.’ And she said, ‘No.’

I told her, “I have been in this field for four years and timings have never been an issue, please look at my work once and then decide.”

She was adamant about her decision and her team apologised to me. She hired a man who was a beginner over me.

For those of you who don’t know Shahnaz Husain, she is a renowned Indian woman entrepreneur and owner of the famous cosmetic brand named after her. She’s been awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government and is known as the woman who inspired many women to become entrepreneurs.

I am sorry to tell you, respected ma’am, but women are slaying in every industry. Women can be whatever they want to be in life. To my knowledge, there are many female photographers in the industry who are fighting hard to break the glass ceiling.

My only question to you is: How did you manage to get news articles published about you that quote you saying things you don’t believe in?

I thank you for making me wait for over an hour to tell me that women can’t click photographs.

Please stop gendering roles and telling women what they can or can’t do.

I don’t feel let down or angry because I know nothing can stop me from becoming what I want. Not people like you, not anyone.

Before we ask men to stop pulling women back, let’s support and choose each other based on capabilities and not gender.

Reject me for not having enough talent and I would appreciate it but do not reject me by saying I’m a woman.

An add-on: I feel bad for the male photographer she hired. He was asked to work round the clock for the whole month, has to stay at her house all the time and sleep on the floor, on a pay of just ₹15k.

Natasha Sharma

You must be to comment.
  1. Dhruv Mehta

    You dodged a bullet there, I went for an interview in their Nehru Place HO about 4 months back, they were offering around 25k if I remember correctly. They liked my portfolio and everything, apparently, it was a “24/7” job and I had a non-negotiable point that I need to be notified for the shoot, atleast 12 hours before. The HR must have discussed it with Shahnaz because I never got a reply from the team.

  2. Kumar Anuj

    It’s been one year that i’m following you on linkedin and I like your work.
    Yes, rejecting someone on the basis of gender is terrible and that too by a successful businessman.
    I know you can do lot more as you are young and talented girl, stay blessed 🙂 wish you lot of success.

  3. Roshni Bose

    It’s good that you did not get that job. You deserve much better. Its sad how some women are so engulfed by their own insecurity that they fear to recognize the talent and goodness in other women. The treatment she gave to that male photographer is way below any respectable or ethical work environment. Sometimes, lost opportunities pave the way for better and brighter ones.

  4. Priyanka Jain

    I salute the courage. Sometimes, the rejection holds good and this for sure as it unfolded a hidden truth. Also, i’d like to remind Ms. Hussain, that the reason why women in our country have issues with timing, security is coz’ of the men who walk freely at any time of the day and make women like us feel unsafe. We too want to explore our aspirations, walk around freely, find everyone around us safe and achieve our goals but we sometimes fail or are held back by either people like you or the society or the fear within our parents doesn’t let us do what we wish for.
    Had you supported a woman that you claim to do, it would have been a real achievement. Sigh!

  5. Srishti Bansal

    what a hypocrite.

  6. Akanksha Neetal

    Agree with what you said “Before we ask men to stop pulling women back, let’s support and choose each other based on capabilities and not gender.” Often we pull each other down and this incident is as much an example as is an eye opener of projected achievers.

    Also what’s with the photographer having to sleep on the floor or living in the house 24hrs!!! There’s no dignity shown at all, this is shocking.

  7. Abhay Raj

    May be she knew you had that thing in you that one day you’ll achieve it… but at that time if she would have let you do that job may be you would not have been what you are today.

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