Last week I wrote about Nuturing Creativity in your Children and I was moved by the support and feedback we received. Being part of the creative community, I often get exposed to fantastic work by inspiring artists. Recently, I had the opportunity to see the work of Shunny Banai, a teenage photographer who lives in Seattle area. What caught my eye was not just her photography, but what she does with these images to express her passion. I connected with her to understand how she got started and why she enjoys photography so much.
Meylah: How did you get inspired to try photography versus other forms of art? Did any particular experience influence you?
Shunny: I'm not completely sure how I got inspired to do photography, I think it really started when I installed Photoshop onto my computer and began using it. I've always liked taking pictures, but when I found a couple good ones in my album I thought maybe I should be taking some more to work with. I've always enjoyed most forms of art; drawing, painting, writing and other types as well, but I've never been good at most of them. When I started taking good pictures and editing them, I thought maybe this can be the art that can be mine and that I'm actually good at. So I kept taking pictures and looking at others to improve.
Meylah: What kind of camera equipment do you use and what equipment would you like to have? How do you plan to use it?
Shunny: For my 13th birthday my friends pooled money together and bought me a camera cause they noticed how much I loved taking pictures on my phone, even though it had a crappy camera. I love that camera a lot but my 4 year old sister broke it, and that’s when I started using my dad’s big manual zoom cannon camera. I used that camera for a while and I loved the zoom and focus that I can adjust by myself to what I want, so by the time I got my camera fixed I was able to use the large camera pretty well. Now, I use both interchangeably depending on what I’m shooting. Editing wise, I have Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and I would like to try out some of the newer versions to see what things are updated, but I like the options on this version, and I have a lot still to discover.
Meylah: Do you take any classes and do you have any mentors/experts that support you?
Shunny: I’ve never taken any classes, so I pretty much teach myself. When I can, I ask my dad things about his camera and he usually knows the answers to my questions. When I need to know how to Photoshop something, I look it up on YouTube and usually find good tutorials that I can learn. The first day I installed Photoshop I explored it and watched dozens of YouTube tutorials, and I’m still exploring all the possibilities. I follow some Photographers on Flickr, and their work inspires new ideas for me to try. I do plan on taking classes on Photography and Computer Graphics all through high school, and I’m lucky the school I’m going to has those classes to offer. I get a lot of support from my friends on Facebook, many of which are artists too. I post my pictures and get comments that encourage me and suggest tips to help me.
Meylah: What ways do you think that you can use your passion in photography to help your class/school or community?
Shunny: Mostly my Photography is just for art and entertainment, but when I feel there are issues that need to be addressed, I try to help however I can. For example, to support Haiti after the earthquake I made an image and at the bottom of it explained an easy way to donate money through texting (i.e. text HAITI to 90999 and you can donate $10 from your phone bill). I plan on continuing to advertise things such as this whenever I can because I believe it can make a huge difference if people are more aware, and people can become more aware through art forms such as photography.
Thank you Shunny for truly inspiring all of us! It's nice to see family, friends and a community supportive of children and their passions. We hope that Shunny becomes the resident photographer for Creative Children for Charity and motivates other children to get involved. We certainly look forward to seeing Shunny continue her photography development by taking classes and sharing her work in her community and online. If you have any suggestions or comments for Shunny, please share them!