The Image Park is one of the leading photography institutes in Nepal at the present. We bring you the Sumeet Shakya, in his own words, the man who took the Image Park to where it is.
Why photography? Why teaching?
My introduction to photography goes way back to when I was a little kid. Min Ratna Bajracharya, one of the top photo journalists till date is my uncle. I grew up looking at his work and I count him as my first inspiration for learning photography. I took a one month basic theoretical photography course during my late teens after I saw its advertisement on a newspaper. I bought my first good camera just right before the birth of my daughter because I wanted to take pictures of her. I continued learning on my own and kept posting pictures on Facebook. Then I got into teaching photography which I discovered loving more than taking pictures myself. I did a few jobs with some Medias like Nepal Samachar Patra, Online Khabar and TGIF. I kept in tone with my family business too, I still do. However I can say that Iâ€™m blessed to have my family not oppose my pursuit of photography.
How The Image Park became the thing it is now?
I had never much heard about an institute dedicated completely towards teaching photography. So I got together with my friends and opened a photography competition platform named â€œImage Schoolâ€. But unfortunately we couldnâ€™t continue it for long so it closed within one year of its opening. Later I went on to establish The Image Park because I figured I wanted to teach photography more than anything. And I had always wanted to establish a place to instruct and promote photography.
Then we started our one week basic courses and workshops where people who are busy can take a small fraction of their time and learn basic skills.Â Irrespective of their age and any other line of work, people could now still continue their passion for photography despite their demanding schedule. And now weâ€™ve started giving courses on fashion and makeup likewise.
Surely you faced some problems, what were the difficulties?
People were a little sceptical in the beginning because there are so many other ways to learn how to work a camera especially due to easy internet access. Some even talked behind my back and complained. Sometimes we were understaffed, and sometimes there werenâ€™t enough students. I got some negative feedbacks too. But I was persistent and kept going on; I listened to those feedbacks for improvements and refused to give up and here we are running our 119th batch.
How do you see photography trend in this time and place?
The trend of photography is growing more than ever. Now there are cell phones with good camera and due to increase of photo posting culture in social medias, people are drawn more towards it. Different people have different take on photography. Some just take photography as one of their leisurely pursuits or take it up as a hobby or a form of therapy. Also the events like wedding, parties, etc photography business is huge. People have started to understand the value of a good captured moment of their big day and are willing to spend thousands on it.
Despite of all that, itâ€™s still easier said than done. As we all know photography is not a very reliable career. Sustainability trumps interests. Very few choose photography as their main line of career. Most give up their pursuits because it cannot support oneâ€™s livelihood solely on it. And there is a difference between taking pictures and photography which is a form of art. It takes one to learn various skills and takes time to master that art. So it has definitely established itâ€™s foothold but it still has a long way to go.
How much do you learn from your students?
Image Park is a place where new ideas and criticisms are openly shared and accepted. Every now and then I learn something new from my students. I describe myself as adaptable and I am always eager to learn so along with the course, I make sure my students develop the same aptitude. Also I think itâ€™s necessary to draw inspirations from other artists to increase your own creativity and improve your work.
What are your future plans for the Image Park?
First thing on top of my head would be to increase the quality of our workshops even more and bring new and improved ideas in.
Also it has only been a year since weâ€™ve started sending our students for internships at various places. And now our future plan is to get them recruited at better places, established companies. Weâ€™ve also been looking for paid interns for Image Park too.
Furthermore Iâ€™ve thought about conducting workshops abroad at least once a year and someday perhaps a world tour.
Do you ever get sick of teaching?
Iâ€™m asked this question a lot by many. Getting sick of teaching mostly implies to those who follow a certain pattern or curriculum so they teach for a few years and then take up a new profession. I however fall on a different category. First of all, I teach the subject, Iâ€™m quite passionate about myself. Then I keep researching and experimenting and make a point to include about 10% of something new from that in every batch. Besides I really like teaching and sharing knowledge. I have this skill and I want to make a use of it by making others learn what I know and they appreciate it. Hence I feel like I did something good with my life.