Vanshika Mehta does not reveal her age to clients because she fears it will hurt her photography business.
Photographer says ageism affects her pay
Vanshika Mehta launched Vanshika Mehta Photography in 2010, during her gap year, before she heads to Northeastern University in Boston in September to study accounting. Ms Mehta, from India, who lives in the Green Community in Dubai with her parents, does not want to reveal her age because she fears it will stop clients from hiring her.
Why did you decide to set up your own business?
My dad takes photographs at concerts as a hobby and I've been going to events with him for the past five years. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to set up my photography business during my gap year to learn a bit about the business side of things and see what it's like to run my own company. The best part about my job is that it's very light - it's not nine to five - it's fun and I enjoy it.
How do your parents view your decision to run a business?
They were a bit sceptical in the beginning because I'm a girl and the work involves late nights. But after a while, they were OK with it. I plan to continue taking on work in Boston because it will be extra pocket money.
How many events have you covered?
I've covered about 20 events and I charge between Dh1,000 and Dh2,000 per job. I market my company through Facebook and my first paid assignment was covering an after-party for an Emirati film. I cover some events for free in exchange for having my logo on the promotional material, but I don't think it's really fair as I have to do so much work behind the scenes to bring those photos out.
Do you struggle to get work because of your age?
I never tell people how old I am because when people know my age they think I'm just a kid and don't take me seriously or pay me properly. As far as I am concerned, a job is a job and that's the way it should be irrespective of my age. Sometimes, when I am setting up a job, I need someone with an older voice to step in to ensure clients listen to me so a friend helps me out. And I have had trouble getting into events because the bouncers on the door question why I am there or who hired me, which can be embarrassing.
How do you spend your earnings?
In Indian tradition, you give your first earning back to your parents to say thank you for everything they've done for you. So after my first two paid events, I gave it to my parents and my mum went out and bought something for herself, which she was very happy about. For myself, I've bought a new handbag and sunglasses and I'm now planning to buy some Christian Louboutin shoes - they are my dream.