Optimism comes naturally for a newcomer to the Midwest like Pon, who relocated from his native South Africa less than two years ago for a role at boutique agency Havas, where he now serves as a creative director. Pon has wasted little time building on the momentum forged back home (where he was named “Africa’s Top Instagrammer” from 2014-2016), amassing a catalog of Windy City shots that demonstrate a critical eye for fresh vantage points and brilliant color whose blunt realism at once flirts with the fantastical. “I always try to capture something that you can’t Google,” explains Pon, an official Fujifilm X-Photographer.
His cold-weather snaps—of everything from the aerial beauty of a snow-dusted L train crawling the tracks to ambiently lit nighttime traffic milling down a frosty Mag Mile—are enough to stop screen-scrollers in their tracks. It’s a testament not only to Pon’s aesthetic, but also to the Easter egg that he hides in each photo: an opaque, mini rocket ship whose inclusion is designed to solicit actual Insta-engagement from his nearly 300K followers (Pon captions each post with #spotthegprocket). “How can I slow people down and encourage them to investigate my photos for longer than a split second?” explains Pon of his intent. As if we needed further convincing. @garethpon, garethpon.com