Wungmaya Lunghar, from Manipur, is one photographer who believes in the power and messages that a picture carries. His love for kids, nature and people shines through his heartwarming photos, something that very few artists are able to do.
He currently works in the field of child development. His work has certainly helped him connect with children and also travel to various places across India. Whenever he spots a moment or view, Wungmaya makes sure to capture it in his camera!
Continue on to find out how fell in love with photography despite not actually owning a camera of his own.
Hello Wungmaya, can you introduce yourself to us?
Hello R&L! I am Wungmaya Lunghar and I hail from Teinem Village, Ukhrul Dist. I belong to the Tangkhul Naga tribe. I’m working in a child-focused development organization called World Vision India as the Capacity Manager-Design Monitoring and Evaluation; extending support to the NE-Region and West Bengal. I live in Guwahati with my wife and our two sons.
I am from an engineering background but always wanted to work with communities directly and create a lasting impact in their lives. My engagement in development work started in 2014, I was in Bihar, Jharkhand Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi until early 2012, when we finally came to NE. It’s been really rewarding and enriching experience so far. The best part of my job is that I get to travel to every part of India, NE in particular.
I am truly blessed to be able to travel to different places, meet wonderful people, experience different cultures and listen to stories. And most of all to be able to capture it all in my camera and share it with the world!
Wungmaya and his family in Cherrapunjee overlooking the Kynrem Falls in Meghalaya
What initially sparked your interest in photography?
It was back in 2016 when one of my colleagues introduced me to a digital camera to take pictures of children for the annual progress report. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was intrigued to pursue it further. I still do not own a proper camera of my own but that doesn’t stop me from exploring photography!
“There are many children who are under darkness because of illiteracy. The light from the window coming down onto the book and illuminating his face is a metaphor for the power of education. It liberates and sets us free.”— Wungmaya on the picture below.
Do you think your roots have influenced how you approach your photography?
My career has had an immense influence on my photography. It helped me understand and reach out to children, and connect with them on a deeper level.
How do you find a balance between photography and your full-time job?
I am a development professional and photography just happened to be the thing that adds value and spark to my work life. Due to my hectic work schedule and travel, I don’t do any projects outside my job. I do weddings for close friends and families, and some events for church and community programs.
Taken during a summer camp at Tangkhul Baptist Chruch, Guwahati, Assam
What’s your creative philosophy — who do you take inspiration from?
Finding beauty in every situation – this is what photography has taught me. Steve Mc Curry’s portrait known as ‘Afghan Girl’ is one of my favourites. I am also inspired by American photojournalist Dorothea Lange for her work and impact of photographing victims of the Great Depression.
Vietnamese-American Photographer Nick Ut’s picture of a 9 year old girl running towards camera from the Napalm bombing during the Vietnam war and Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer prize winning photograph “The Vulture and the Little Girl” from South Sudan Famine in 1993 are also the most powerful photos I have ever seen.
Wungmaya’s photography clearly reflects his passion and love!
What do you hope people take away from your photographs?
One thing that is always in my head while taking a photo is to be able to put a smile on the face of the person I photographed and the one who sees my photographs.
Who or what gets you excited about photography?
My two sons. They are the most beautiful and precious gifts from God. I always want to freeze every possible precious moments about them. Another thing is my extensive travel to different places!
Share with us your most memorable photo shoot or photo!
One photo shoot that will always remain special for me was in 2012 December early morning while driving from Lunglei to Lawngtlai (Mizoram). We (our team) saw a waterfall like cloud formation flowing down between two mountains. It reminded me of my favourite hymn “How great thou art”. There are other pictures I took like Aizawl at night and the view from Laitpuitlang, Mizoram is also glorious and heavenly.
A magnificent view of clouds gushing over the hills seen from the Lunglei- Lawngtlai road, South Lushai hills, Mizoram
One portrait that I took from my field trip in Chandel of a kid peeking out from a small hole on a thatch wall is one of my favourites too.
A small child peeps from a small opening on a thatch wall in Chandel, Manipur
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