We had the good fortune of connecting with Jai Khanna and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jai, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
There are so many quotes that I love and am inspired by every day, but I’d say my favorite one is: “To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them” by Elliott Erwitt. This single quote has touched so many parts of my life from how I maintain a work-life balance to how I see everything around me. In these uncertain times since the start of the pandemic, Elliott’s quote has especially been more applicable to a lot of our situations. A lot of us have had to work from home and stay indoors for the better part of last year. For photographers who shoot outdoors, this meant they needed to find inspiration inside their homes in a seemingly uninteresting environment or a place they haven’t really thought of ever shooting in. I ran into this myself and realized that I was looking at everything differently. I started finding so many opportunities to shoot everywhere inside my house and around it. As an engineer, I’m already used to looking at things from a different angle, but I have to admit that when I came across this quote a few years ago, it inspired me to an entirely different level. I love this quote because of how true, applicable, and inspiring it is. Photographers shooting outdoors often find themselves in easily accessible locations, but the best shots are often taken from unexpected angles. With so many people looking at the same landscape or shooting portraits at the same location it really comes down to how you as a photographer see and visualize that scene that brings out the best photographic version of it.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Professionally, I’m a software engineer who loves creating web applications and designs for the web. For me, photography and music are technically hobbies but they mean much more personally. I’ve found this really interesting connection between my day job, photography, and music that one inspires me to excel in the others. I feel like they’re somewhat related and bring out the best version of myself. Taking photos, for me, is much more than a hobby. It plays a very important role in my life even though it’s not my main line of work. My artwork is based on a lot of nature and travel – mountains, flowers, beaches, sunsets, buildings and cityscapes. I’ve recently started investing a lot of my time towards taking high-resolution panoramic photographs and timelapses. I’m super excited about the upcoming timelapse projects I have planned for the next few months. Everyone’s journey into any profession is different, subjective and almost always has obstacles or difficulties lined up at certain times. My journey into photography hasn’t been an exception to that observation. I’m very happy about where I am in my journey, how my work has changed and how I’ve changed as a photographer over the past few years. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of time experimenting with photography, trying out different genres, exploring different places, being supported by family and friends, having exposure to so many other inspiring photographers and having a day job to support this passion’s expenses. It’s important for one to gain experience in this field to realize what they really like and how to get great at it. I’ve seen a lot of people dropping photography altogether because they think they don’t have the right gear or the best camera/lens. I’m sure I speak for a lot of us photographers when I say that ‘the best camera is the one you already have’. We all have different ways of overcoming different challenges, but what’s worked best for me is to just go out there and shoot as much as I can. I learn something new every time I’m out on a photoshoot. It’s a learning curve, especially in the beginning, but it’s the fun kind! A strong message that I love to follow is to do what makes you happy because, at the end of the day, that’s what matters. Photography makes me happy.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Awesome! Assuming we’re all following local and state safety guidelines and considering that I’m here in San Francisco I’d have the following places on my itinerary: Photography spots: 1. Hawk Hill for the amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city. It’s also an amazing spot to just sit back and relax 2. Treasure Island for views of the Bay Bridge and the city. Another amazing place to soak in the fresh breeze any time of the day 3. Lands End Hike 4. Baker Beach 5. The Palace Of Fine Arts 6. Golden Gate Park, especially Peacock Meadow that has exciting LED decorations during the holiday season 7. Corona Heights Park, Alamo Square Park and Lombard Street 8. Twin Peaks I would definitely head out to North Beach for dining. It has some of my favorite spots in the city including Mario’s for sandwiches, Saint Frank Coffee, Stella Pastry & Cafe and Mona Lisa for pizza! Outside of North Beach, I would definitely visit Little Sweet for some boba and Tartine Bakery in Misson Dolores.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family has always been the adventurous kinds. When I was a lot younger, we would head out to core forests and jungles for road-trips every now and then. It was super fun, exciting and inspiring to watch them use all their cool camera gear and get those amazing shots of flowers, snow-capped mountains, wild animals and just about everything nature had to offer. With time, I would often get the chance to get my hands on all the equipment we had. I would point the camera at different things and take lots of photos. Waiting for my father to get the roll film developed was the longest wait ever! I would always be extremely excited to see the result. My family is what really piqued my interest in photography. For me, the majority of the inspiration, support and encouragement comes from my family.