Hopong Chang is a photographer from Tuensang Town, based in both Kohima and Dimapur. He is renowned for his elaborately devised photographs that dig into the commonplace to find images that are haunting, surreal and—most agree—profoundly magical. He is one of those photographers that has an eye for the shot and the creativity to make wonders happen. His surreal photography is often times straight out of a beautiful fantasy world. Apart from photography, Hopong’s interests lie in playing music and he’s always open to try and experience new things that life has to offer. Hopong, in his work chronicles unrestrained pictures of people lost in thought, isolated and inaccessible, both to each other and to the viewer. His images are rich in detail, and there is not a thing in the frame—not even a tinge that he does not carefully select. They have a strong focus on storytelling and often pair a solitary human element with dark, whimsical scenery, inviting the audience to find their own meaning. With images shrouded in mystery, Hopong’s work will leave you wondering how the story will unfold. Cautiously, he picks places and landscapes that provide the perfect backdrop for his surreal photos. Inspired by his unique images, we asked Hopong to tell us more about his creative process.
-Well, let’s put it this way- Photography was like a sort of panacea for me after years of being drawn to arts, music and creative activities. This passion helped me open up more imaginations and sum up all the little things that I had learned and experienced.
What do you when you’re not working with the lens?
– Besides the Government job, I jam on the guitar whenever I have time.
Music still holds a special place in my heart.
From an imaginative point of view, if you could live anywhere on this awesome planet, where would you build your dream home?
-My life revolves around my Families, friends and relatives .Honestly right now, my imagination lead me to the place where my family is. I would build my dream home here itself in Nagaland so I would never have to part from my families.
How would you describe your style of photography?
-My forte lies in Portraits, weddings and surrealism. I often do fashion photography as well.
Any photographers that inspire you?
-Victor Demarchelier, Georges Antoni, Ivan Khomenko, Angelika Zbojeńska and Emily Soto.
Something that is overrated to you?
-It’s the word, ‘Unemployment’. We are an extremely talented group of people who can give stiff competition to anyone, anywhere in any vocation. Employment is always right at our door and we must try and give our skills some serious boost.
A motto that you live by?
-Be calm and let God lead you.
Many people love your photos because they have an artistic streak. Where do you think this compulsion come from?
-I always try to make that one image which will tell more than one story.
We loved the photos you captured at the 4th Annual NAJ Cosfest last year. Were you taking photos of the fest because you love cosplay andanime as well or was it done just out of sheer interest?
-Thank you, we always deliver our best if we have that love and passion for something that we see or do. My love for cosplay and anime all started from black and white TV during the 80s’ and I grew up watching every cartoon. I was introduced to Japanese anime years back.
What’s your next or current project?
-I have been mostly engaged in the Wedding season, and once they draw to a close, I am prepping plans to do some environmental portraits, photo stories and some surreal photography.
What do you think of the photography industry in Nagaland at the moment? Where do you see yourself five years from now?
-From my point of view, here in Nagaland, photography is mostly confined to weddings, events and festivals. The photography industry will be in a lot bigger frame if there were publication houses for magazines related to Lifestyle, Travel and Fashion. Hopefully there is a growing appreciation and recognition for this art. People are starting to realise that photography is a medium and that it is educative, helps spread awareness related to social problems and conditions, captures the never-to-return moments and evoke them emotionally.
Five years from now, I see myself with the same passion, the same zest, yet more polished and yes, living as an inspiration to the younger generations.
What have you learned about yourself through this love affair with photography?
-I’ve learned and experienced so much that no other profession could have helped me see. It’s the understanding that I am not alone – that God is ever present in every photo that I click. It’s the discipline, that confidence to be myself with my ideas, the wise management of time, to be positive and to appreciate all of God’s beautiful creations.
What advice do you have for somebody who wants to pursue photography?
-One of the simplest definitions of Photography is “Painting with light”. Therefore, in order to take a picture, we need to have the light. It’s very important to know lightings besides the technicalities plus working of the camera and other equipments. Be original and be inspired by others’ works too. And most importantly, your photography is a reflection of what you are and how you deal with people.