The MISSBISH Photography Workshop | Gareth Pon

Author: Mia Guevarra / Photos: Gareth Pon
11.05 / MISSBISH Photography Workshop

Tell us about your style of photography. How did you develop this style and what do you enjoy shooting the most?
My style is a mix of travel and lifestyle. I really love photographing people the most, catching candid moments and little hints of happiness when people forget that they’re in front a camera. Because my history is in filmmaking I usually approach everything I photograph with narrative in mind. I love opposite ends of composing scenes in really busy backgrounds or extremely minimal backgrounds.

Photography is all about capturing that moment. What’s the secret?
I love the empty space where there are no photos being taken - it teaches you patience and appreciating observation, it’s the empty space that creates a fun little Segway to capturing the moments that feel right.

Where are you based? What makes home a good base for you?
Chicago! It’s a new base, pretty recent and I’m still falling for the cit. A good base needs a good airport (I love traveling), it needs a good space to recline to (I live in Pilsen, it’s just off everyone’s radar but still close enough to the city).

Tell us about your gear, what camera do you use? What lenses do you prefer? Post-editing?
I shoot on a Fujifilm X-T2 with a 23mm and a 90mm. I also shoot on a medium format Fujifilm GFX50S with a 23mm, 110mm, and 63mm. I edit everything in Lightroom.

How did you get into photography? Tell us about your first experience.
My love for photography actually developed in a really interesting way, I am originally a filmmaker - I remember having a camera that shot amazing video and never actually shooting a single photo on it for years. I actually started taking photos purely to improve my composition for cinematography. I think my most memorable first experience was going to downtown Johannesburg and photographing the streets, I started seeing the city with new eyes and from then on it became a long-term relationship with my discovery of the still image.

Tell us the story behind one of the most memorable photos you’ve shot…
This image is easily my most memorable. It was during the time I spent in Lagos. I wanted to photograph under Third Mainland Bridge, this obviously came with challenges so I had to seek out some connections to get there. Eventually, I found a way under the bridge and discovered this area where you could see a good stretch of the bridge and the perspective was overwhelming. However, I was faced with this beautiful scene, a bit gritty and a bit curious - one thing was missing, a subject. So I did what I usually do, I waited. For a few minutes, I just sat and looked at the scene, the next thing I know I see these kids creeping out of the tall grass surrounding the area. They see me and are a bit frightened, but then with a well of courage they make a dash for their little hut - I pull out my camera and take as many shots as I can and I was lucky enough to capture one of the most memorable moments of my life.

What is a constant source of inspiration for you as a photographer?
I think it’s my blessing and curse of getting bored very easily. I’m always hunting for something new, a new way to do things - I always return back to films, I re-watch some of my favorite films and stylistically think about how I can capture that aesthetic in photography.

Who has been a great influence or mentor to you and what did you learn from them that you still carry with you today?
I have been privileged enough to have multiple mentors, it’s something I’ve always grown up with - having someone or multiple people who I can ask for their honest opinions. My dad has always been my greatest inspiration though, he is an architect and when you see the houses he designs you instantly know it’s his work - that’s something I always aspired to, having some sort of visual signature that is written all over my work.

Can you give us three photography tips and explain each?
1. Appreciate the empty space - The empty space within a frame is sometimes more important to your composition than the space that is filled. I always try adding multiple layers/textures visually whenever I can, this makes a visually interesting image but also stylistically and gives dimension to an image.
2. Learn to love darkness as much as you love light - Understanding shadows and the way light falls is a secret weapon for crafting a scene. The more you understand and recognize the way these two things interact, the more you’ll learn to light a scene.
3. Learn to feel an image - You can be the most technically strong photographer in the world, getting every single setting and perfectly capturing the right exposure. But if you can’t harness some sort of emotion then what’s the real point of being able to capture an image?

Finish the sentence...
If I weren’t afraid I would ... not know what I know now, fear is a great driver to overcoming challenges.

I wouldn't be where I am if ... I didn’t embrace failure.

I've been listening to ... some of the nostalgia, bring on Relient K.

Kids these days ... should not be stereotyped.

I look and feel my best when ... there is laughter in the air.

When no one is looking ... I’m usually napping.

Traveling ... is very very very very very necessary.

I respect ... risk.

I would recommend interviewing ... @tobishinobi.

If I were to ask him/her a photography related question, I would want to know ... What goes through his mind when he’s capturing an image.