Shannon Kanhai's Portfolio

Biography

Nice to meet you, my name is Shannon!

I’m an Amsterdam based photographer & film director and for as long as I can remember I’ve had a passion for the visual and creation. By now you've probably seen some of my work, but probably have no clue who I am. Want to know more about me? Keep on reading!

Growing up

Growing up my dad instilled in me the following belief “You can do anything, you just have to try”. He kept repeating this to me over and over again. I still believe that to this day and I can confidently say that it’s my strongest and most important belief. It allowed me to have the courage to try new things and just do it.

When I was five my dad started getting his first MS(Multiple Sclerosis) symptoms. The doctors say the disease is incurable, but I don’t believe in that. Growing up I saw him lose some of his physical strength and mobility, but the beautiful thing was he never lost his mental strength. Mentally he became stronger and stronger, he never gave up on himself, he never lost hope, he refused to let the disease define who he was or make him any less of a person. I am so proud of him and words can’t describe how much I love this man.

My dad thought me how to be strong, to work hard, to have discipline, to go after what I want, to never give up on myself and to keep going until I achieve my goals. The funny thing is that all of the things that I really really wanted and really believed I could achieve actually became reality. You really can do anything, you just have to try.

As you can see this an ode to my dad, but there's another hero beside him. My mom. She thought me how to nurture, unconditional love, commitment and how to make a mean sandwich. My mom, my dad, my older brother and sister, they all thought me a lot and are partly responsible for the person I am today. I like who I am today and for that I am grateful. I will strive to become the best version of myself. 


Skills

When I was 11 till about 17 I taught myself graphic design, how to design websites and write code (XHTML/CSS), how to do Wordpress implementations and create custom Wordpress themes. I was a real nerd, lol. When I was about 15 I launched my own online magazine ‘Urbanstart.nl’ back in 2008. The website was focused on street culture, fashion, music and lifestyle. I would post one or two articles every day religiously for two years. It went really well, especially for that time, and I had around a thousand unique visitors every day. Around that time I also started my own clothing label, but unfortunately, it failed. The production process didn’t go as planned and my shirts didn’t come out the way I intended them to. I quit that shortly after and gave up on my fashion label dream. As I write this I’m still wearing one of the shirts as my pajamas, haha. I still have a few of the shirts and I love wearing them because it reminds me of my ambitious goals, creativity and fearlessness of when I was younger. I lost some of it along my journey, but I’m striving to get it back.

After two years of owning my online magazine, I got bored of it and my visual eye got intrigued by film and special effects. I wanted to learn how to make films, so I did. I started with photography because film is basically multiple photographs behind each other. I bought a camera and started doing photoshoots my friends as a hobby. I was actually going to study Business Economics at the Free University of Amsterdam, but then I saw this speech by Steve jobs and realized ‘What the fuck am I doing?! No!’. So I was like what do I really love to do and where lies my talent? Everything became clear to me. I was not particularly good at economics and I had a lot more talent in the arts. So I decided to go and study film. So I applied for film school and I got in. 


Film

Studying film really changed my life. It forced me to take a very good look at myself. If you’re making a film you have to create realistic characters, but how are you going to do that if you don’t even understand yourself? This is the first time I became self-aware. I never really observed myself and others. I never really looked at myself in the sense of who I am, why I am the way that I am, what my dreams are, what my fears are, what is blocking me from achieving my dreams and what caused those blocks. This process confronted me with the deepest and darkest cracks of my soul, trauma’s from the past and insecurities I had repressed such as; dealing with the disease of my father, years of suffering from acne and not being successful in the way that I wanted. A lot of dark shit, a lot of fear, grief, sadness, loneliness and more, it all came out. It caused me to go into a deep depression and burnout which led to a beautiful eye-opening spiritual awakening. 



Spirituality

If people that know me are asked to describe me ’spiritual’ is definitely a big theme. They tend to think of me as a spiritual person. I got that from my dad. He's a very spiritual man. He meditates twice a day, every day, ever since I can remember. Talking about discipline and dedication. He also did transcendental meditation for twenty years and studied different spiritual teachings over the years. He’d always share his knowledge with his children, even if they were bored of hearing it, haha. I’m happy he did.

So after my first big spiritual awakening, which is a lifelong journey to enlightenment and never really ends, I started looking at myself and life in a totally different way. I started looking at every situation thinking what is the lesson in this situation, and what in me is attracting these situations in the first place? Who am I now, what do I want my future self to be like and what is holding me back from being that future self? I stepped out of the victim role and became the creator. I remembered what my dad always used to say “You can do anything, you just have to try.” This means I could also change all parts of myself that are holding me back from my success. I became the conscious creator of my own reality. Aligning more and more with my authentic self.



Work with me

So as I’m writing this I feel very grateful for becoming conscious of my own evolution over the years and I know that I have a bright future ahead of me. I would love to create beautiful, meaningful and moving work. So if you got to the end of this, way too long, essay about my life story, then our energies probably would be a good match!

Feel free to contact me about the projects that you’re currently working on and maybe, in the very near future, we can create some amazing work together!

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