Interview with the skyrocketing Gareth Pon
Gareth Pon believes that everyone should have at least one ridiculous dream that they believe can come true and since he can remember, his has been to go to space. Growing up, he maintained his dream of space travel and avoided it becoming a career, and opted out of becoming an astronaut and chose to be a filmmaker, photographer and an internationally recognised instagrammer instead.
1. What did you study – how did you go about getting your name out into the industry?
I started off studying Fashion Design at LISOF, I stopped midway through the course realising that it wasn’t the industry I wanted to be in. I then went on to dipping my toes into many different creative mediums, did a bit of retail marketing and even some architecture, I eventually decided to start studying at The Open Window. I did a BA in Visual communication and it opened my eyes to the world of Film and Photography.
I started networking from the word go. There’s huge value in getting your work out to those who will see it and value you. Find mentors and speak to those who will grow you as you learn. I also started freelancing as soon as I could.
In regards to Instagram, I initially just started using it as a fun outlet for photography and creativity. I then realised it’s potential when I realised the international reach it gave creatives, from then on I put more focus and effort into the platform. I curated more, shot more content and began to grow my exposure as best as I could.
2. Instagram is frowned upon by a large amount of the photographic community, what is your view on this?
I’ve always loved change. I believe that people who don’t embrace change will stay stagnant and never grow or see the potential of new opportunities that are out there.
Instagram has given photographers the ability to become more and grow in a way that was never possible before. You can either frown upon it or take it and use it to better your career and exposure. But also keep in mind that Instagram culture is something unique, rather embrace that culture instead of trying to fight it.
3. Describe the typical instameet?
Meet > Greet > Explore > Take Photos > Chat > Learn > Hang Out.
That’s basically it! 🙂 People get together and share a common passion for exploring and taking photos. There are very rarely any formalities.
4. In as short as possible, how does the typical day look in the life of Gareth Pon?
Ha. This is ALWAYS different.
Wake > Feed Cats > Morning Routine > Gym > [Whatever the day has planned] > Sleep
With some eating in between all those actions. It’s honestly hard to say because I haven’t had a typical day in a very very long time.
5. What would the golden rules be to become a successful instagramer be?
- Engage with others
- Be genuine
- Tell a story
- Curate your images
- Don’t be in it for the popularity
6. Whose work has influenced you most?
If I am honest, the way my parents brought me up has influenced me the most. They always taught me to value the details of everything that I find inspiring. Through the years I’ve learnt that the best way to grow is to not allow influence to come from any one source, but rather allow that inspiration to be fuelled from inside you as other sources ignite that passion.
7. What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
I wish I understood light a lot better, I think this is something you never stop learning.
8. Will you ever consider blurring the lines of right/wrong in order to get THAT shot?
I think right and wrong is often a matter of perspective, perspective also influences how I take a photo and how someone reads that photo. So before one has even tried to be right or wrong and blur those lines there has already been a perception of opinion that’s influenced the right or wrong.
Instead I try to not blur any lines, nor be right or wrong, I’d rather just be honest and as honest as possible
9. What does being successful mean to you?
Living life knowing that if I die I would be missed.
10. Ever get days where you just feel like not taking a photograph?
Yup. Definitely. But it happens anyways. I think that’s how you know you love something.
11. The one thing you would not photograph?
Bugs! They freak me out.
12. What are you most afraid off?
Besides bugs (haha). I’m afraid of not fulfilling my full potential and living an average life.
13. Where in SA is your favourite location to shoot and why?
I’d say between Woodstock in Cape Town and Soweto in JHB, I’ve always loved photographing the cultures and lifestyles in these suburbs.