Gangtok, He believes that the beautiful part of being a photographer is learning new prospect everyday.
Meet Jonah Gurung, a self-taught, well-known and the most sought after wedding photographer in the hills who believes nothing can substitute hardwork.
The 27-year-old son of Priscilla and Anand Gurung, he hails from Kashyen Village (near Kalimpong) in West Bengal but is presently based in Siliguri.
He pursued his schooling from St George School in Pedong and has completed Bachelors in Sociology from Siliguri College.
He started Jonah Photography with a single minded focus — to follow his passion of clicking pictures.
It has not been an easy ride, but then nothing worthwhile ever comes easy anyway.
In a candid conversation with NIRMAL MANGAR, Editor-in-Chief of SIKKIM CHRONICLE, he tells more about his journey and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
SC: Can you recall any particular incident that sparked your interest in photography?
JG: I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but the day I laid hands on a camera for the first time, that was the defining moment of my life in the truest sense of the phrase.
My first digital camera was a Sony just 10 megapixels, a fraction of the resolution that most camera phones have these days.
Quite surprisingly though, that little gizmo, despite being an early consumer model was fairly versatile and allowed me quite a bit of manual control.
The first wedding photography project which I took up was in the year 2013. I was quite sceptical, but surprisingly everyone liked and appreciated my work injecting new energy to explore more.
For a lot of people, an interest in photography sparks an interest in a particular camera as a means of making photographs. For me however, it was the passion as the driving force that led me to where I am today.
Armed with my new-found knowledge of basics and heightened interest in photography, I set out to capture the world around me.
SC: Is photography entirely a self-taught skill for you? How do you keep improving your craft?
JG : Indeed, almost everything I know about photography, I taught myself. Mainly the internet has been my greatest ally. I spend hours in YouTube learning more on photography.
The informal guidance has helped me time to time, whenever I have needed it, has been invaluable.
To do what I do, better, I have to keep abreast with the latest technological advancements in photography as well as the latest aesthetic and creative trends in the industry. And that’s exactly what I do.
The quest isn’t just to get better and better but also to do something so different that it becomes your signature.
That’s the only way you can leave your mark in almost any creative field I guess.
SC: How would you define your creative and aesthetic vision? What kind of subjects and stories intrigue you the most?
JG: Weddings are my favorite, owing to the myriad of moods, emotions and thereby expressions.
I believe marriage is the institution of trust, belief and joy. People don’t give much heed to capture the wedding moments but I feel it is the most important part which shouldn’t be missed.
We witness so many broken marriages nowadays but I believe the marriage photos would cherish and help relive the moments, what could be more rewarding than that?
I also make sure that I write beautiful quotes on the photo albums of the clients to instill the value of marriage.
SC: How passionate you are when it comes to your work?
JG: Let me share a beautiful experience that happened to me. I have two friends, Pranay Pradhan and Arpan Gurung who presently is in Indian army. Almost every day I used to pass by a shop in Siliguri just to take a glance of a Canon 600 DSLR camera which was cheapest of all however at that point of time I had no money to buy the said camera. It was these two friends who helped me to get my dream gizmo. My uncle Amit Karthak was another person who used to give me software to improve my skill on photography.
SC: In a typical month how many clients do you handle?
JG: Wedding now days is throughout the year phenomenon, during season we handle over 25 projects in a month. Extended work hours, enthusiast team and passion to deliver best drives us to work more hard.
Most of my clients are from Sikkim followed by Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Siliguri and Garo Hills ( Meghalaya).
SC: What is the scale of your business? What are your expansion plans?
JG: We are growing, creative / artistic talent cannot be a volume-based business. Currently I have a five member team who regularly works with me and we do hire a part-time freelancers when the project is more.
My ambition also compels me to take the brand to the next level by setting up a state of art studio in Siliguri.
SC: Your Inspiration?
JG: My mother. She is the most inspiring person in my life. She is a mentor, a teacher and above all a guide who always motivates me.
SC: How Do you see your association with Mr Sikkim ManHunt 2018?
JG: This is such a wonderful season of my life to work with the team. This is a relationship building moment for us. It will make me work more intelligently this time. It will open my mind open to better opportunities. It’s the time of a preparation. More importantly, I am willing to take chance never know what wonderful things are lying ahead when we come together.
SC: Any word of acknowledgment?
JG: I am deeply thankful to all those who stood by me through thick and thin. Pastor Reynold Kargay, Terrance Karthak, Pastor Silvanas Tamang, Ben Issac, Anmol Gurung, Suzan Subba and my team members who has been my constant support in my journey.
SC: Your word of exhortation to the aspiring/ budding photographers?
JG: It is not the camera or the editing that would create magic in photography but the knowledge you carry to treat your craft. I repeat, the beautiful part of being a photographer is leaning and education. Learn to Know.