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Meet Mishan Warnakulasuriya of Mishan W. Photography

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mishan Warnakulasuriya.

Mishan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in a tiny Island called Sri Lanka also known as the pearl of the Indian Ocean.

My father is a VSAT Engineer and was the youngest press photographer in Sri Lanka. My grandfather (my mother’s father) was also a photographer and that’s how my parents met. So I guess you can call me a child of photography.

I grew up around electronics and photography, towards my high school years, I picked up my fathers 35mm Minolta camera and was getting into photography, owning a digital camera at the time was almost an impossible task. But having stated in the film gave me an appreciation of color and natural beauty in its purest.

About 11 years ago, I had a scholarship for engineering and made my move to the US to study engineering. During which I met my Uncle Andy Samarasena, a well-known wedding and portrait photographer in Santa Barbara, who encouraged me to start picking up where I left off and introduced me to a world of digital photography. This was an awesome way to help pay for school. Whilst facing financial difficulties and my parents having financial difficulties of their own, I soon found myself homeless and on the streets of Santa Barbara.

With much hard work and determination, I was able to find a job and get back up on my feet, I made a small video as a social justice project for Antioch University to help educate people about student homelessness and also give hope to people who are facing hard times to let them know there is light at the end of the tunnel. (

I was able to work hard to afford a Canon XT and then over the years worked up to finally owning a proper DLR. For the past 11 years, I have been working in the field of IT and also working as a Photographer to help support my family and seek the American dream.

Having been a wedding photographer, I was given the opportunity to shoot for Miss Asia USA and Miss Latina Global beauty pageant and soon discovered my passion for Fashion and beauty. Since then I have been falling in love with fashion and beauty photography every day. Since then I have had my work featured on Arsenic magazine, Maxim SA and have also had my work viewed by people like Paul Marciano @guess.

One of my biggest dream’s has always been to get published in Vogue Magazine. Hopefully, I can make that happen.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth ride, I guess that’s how life is. What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.

Being homeless was a turning point in my life, I went from studying engineering to changing majors to computer network engineering, I think I sold everything I had at the time to put myself back through school to graduate and the only thing I didn’t sell was my camera

Since I’m not originally from the US. It’s always been challenging for people to relate to me and understand me. Coming from a country like Sri Lanka and from a very cultured family, it’s been a rough road. Especially in a field like fashion and beauty, there are stereotypical views that need to be overcome.

I believe that in life the challenges that are the hardest are the most rewarding.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
My style of photography is about telling a story along with capturing personality. I feel like anyone can take a picture but capturing the personality and telling a story through a photograph is what makes a photographer special.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 4129 State St. Ste G
    Santa Barbara, Ca 93101
  • Website:
  • Phone: 805.258.9509
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @mishanw
  • Facebook: mishanw

Image Credit:
@CherieNoel, @Sena_ostra, @TristaMikail, @JocelynBinder

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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