You might find him hidden between the crags and rocks of Himalayan mountains, you might find him weathering the winds and sands of parched deserts, or you might find him waiting vigil-like in the lamplit streets of some busy metropolis, but whatever setting you encounter him in, you will not likely find him alone.
True, you might look around and see not see anyone else, but if you look closer, you will see that he has two faithful companions by his side. The first is one of the great sources of his motivation: his JBL Bluetooth speaker. Look again, and you’ll find the instrument he uses to capture his one-of-a-kind vistas. Perhaps it is sitting ready in his hands, perhaps being held steady on a tripod, perhaps pressed against the master’s eye as he waits for just the right moment—wherever it is, you will rarely find him without his camera at the ready.
These two tools, cold and mechanical as they may seem, give this creative pioneer two of his greatest inroads into the exceedingly alive and colorful world around him. They give him the ability to do what he is passionate about and skilled at: uncovering the beauty buried in places others don’t think to look.
Jonah Masson (pronounced muh-SOHN; emphasized, enunciated, and pronounced similarly to “a song”), a seventeen-year-old senior in high school, takes professional quality pictures in both some of the most beautiful places you will ever see, as well as some of the last places you’d expect to blow you away at first glance. He lived in China, close enough to Himalayan mountains to see them on a regular basis, for five years, but now lives in the United States, sometimes in his Arizonan hometown, sometimes close to extended family, and sometimes somewhere in between. He has two “wonderful, goofy sisters”—fifteen and thirteen years old.
Jonah appreciates a wide variety of music—practically everything but Hawaiian and Country. He lists Future Bass, Pop, Alternative, and Indie Alternative as some of his favorite genres, reserving the top positions for Hip Hop and a Trapstep/EDM mix. His favorite artists are NF, Josh Garrels, Illenium, Seven Lions, Andy Mineo, and Imagine Dragons. He says he listens to music for about twelve hours each day, and that’s probably not too far off; finding new music on Spotify is one of his top hobbies, and it’s one he’s quite skilled at.
He enjoys a great variety of movies, so choosing a favorite is difficult for him, but since his interviewer is rather persistent (or perhaps just stubborn?), Jonah says two of his recent favorites are Aquaman and A Beautiful Mind. His favorite books are the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini, and the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, which he likes to read before he goes to sleep, to wind down from the day.
Jonah has both great skill and great passion for photography, and he specializes in landscape, street, and product photography. He’s currently living around mostly desert landscapes, and has enjoyed capturing some of the stunning scenery they offer. But no matter what setting he finds himself in, he loves choosing subjects that most people wouldn’t generally notice or find captivating, and using his camera to uncover the natural beauty everyone else has missed in it. It should come as no surprise that he won first place overall last year in clay’s very own photography contest, placing in the top three in two other subcategories as well.
Jonah will attend Liberty University in the fall, where he intends to live on campus for four years. He has chosen business as his major, and he’s considering taking on a minor in photography on top of that. Once he graduates from university, he plans to start his own business as a professional freelance photographer.
Jonah has recently been challenged by 1 Peter 3:13: “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” It calls him to step out of his comfort zone and do what he knows is right, even when it’s an uncomfortable choice and he’s afraid of what others might think about him for it. Along the same lines, here is something Jonah has been pondering recently that he was generous enough to share with us:
It has taken me so long to understand and get good at photography, and I know that I still have a very long way to go. I have made a lot of embarrassing mistakes, and I look back at my pictures from a year ago and think, ‘wow I was really bad.’ I want to encourage everyone to pursue their passions, and to not be afraid to make mistakes, because mistakes are what make you a better person, and help you to become better at what you are passionate about. All my mistakes have enabled me to become a better photographer, and I know that I am probably still making mistakes, but making those mistakes and learning from them is what makes me become better. Don’t let the fear of making mistakes and embarrassing yourself hold you back from doing what you want to do.
We really can learn so much from looking back sometimes, and failure often is a better teacher than success. Personally, looking at Jonah’s photos from a year ago, I still think it’s mind-blowingly stunning, but some his more recent work is even more stunning, so I suppose he could definitely be onto something there.
A Snapshot of Jonah:
- Favorite Color: White (unless you don’t accept that as a color, in which case Jonah offers teal/cyan)
- TPS Classes 2018-19: Psychology and Counseling, U.S. Government, and English 6: British Lit
- Meyers-Briggs Type: ESTJ
To see some of Jonah’s own snapshots, check him out on Instagram @jonahmassonphotography. Seriously, his work is incredible, and you need to see it.