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Nov 01, 2018

The Hook-Up

Ever-smiling and always on the move, John Hook has an undeniable thirst for life, and that passion glows through his gorgeous photography.

As one of the leading lensmen behind FLUX Magazine, a Honolulu-based publication chronicling the lesser-sung but deeply captivating stories of Hawai'i, Hook has brought a unique perspective and energy into his photos. Hook's captivating work—whether it be shooting night surfing in Waikiki, the eruption of Mauna Kea, or high-fashion editorial—has a vibe that's all his own. When you see a John Hook image, you know it. Recently, we linked up with Hook to discuss his path to photography, his dream shoot, and how sees the medium evolving.

How'd you find your way to the lens?

When I was in high school, my mom actually gave me an old camera and I carried it around with me everywhere. This was just before digital cameras really came onto the scene. In a million years, I never thought that photography would turn into something that would one day become a career. I just wanted to shoot photos of my friends surfing and skating around the island. Slowly, I began realizing that there was this whole other world behind the camera. It's pretty classic, I was kinda blown away that by changing your settings and playing around a little bit, you could bring this whole other world to life. It was fun and creative, and that part really stood out to me. But I never believed it could lead to a career.

What helped spur your love of the camera and turn it into an actual job?

I was actually working in retail as a manager, and I was ready to do something else. I had been shooting for fun, and then I met some people who were actually able to make careers out of shooting weddings and they asked if I was able to tag along and help. Eventually, I realized that this definitely beat my other job. I thought, "Man, I could just surf most of the day and then just shoot photos." [Laughs] What's not to love?

It sounds like the reality is more work and not as much as surfing as you had in mind.

Haha, yeah, I spend most of my days either shooting or behind a computer editing or working on the business side. It's a lot and I'm staying really busy, but I'm super thankful that I've actually been able to turn my love of shooting photos into an actual job.

In the past decade, you've been at the forefront of a new group of ultra-talented photographers coming out of the state. The popularity of Flux Magazine has helped catapult a lot of photographers onto the world stage.

I think so much of my life has just been being in the right place at the right time. I was hanging out at a cafe near the FLUX office and I got to know the editor and the publisher. They knew that I was a photographer and asked if I would be interesting in contributing to a few assignments. That was the beginning, and I've been working with FLUX and Nella Media Group ever since, shooting and concepting out different ideas for photos for all of their publications.

It feels like you're at the vanguard of a group of Hawaii-based photographers who are capturing some really impressive images that are gaining worldwide attention.

I think there are some really talented, creative photographers. I love Mark Kushimi and Chris Rohrer's work. They have great perspectives and are really talented. But I think a lot of the reason that our work has been able to stand out a bit is that Hawaii is just so photogenic. There's amazing moments everywhere, and I think that, with the rise of social media, it's allowed us to connect our work and our world with more people across the planet.

If you could attend any shoot, anywhere, where would it be and why?

Hmm, that's a tough one. I'd say my dream shoot would to document any sort of space travel. If I could capture the first tourist shuttle to the moon or some sort of galactic adventure, that would be amazing.

How do you foresee photography evolving in the coming years?

With social media, Instagram, and smart phones, people from all over the world have the ability to be photographers. And you're seeing a lot of people with large social media followings actually getting high-end photo jobs. They might not be the best photographer, but they have a substantial following on social media, so that helps promote the shoot even more. However, I don't think that model is going to work forever. I think that we've all becoming a bit saturated with social media and obtaining likes and views. I think there might be a shift back the other way, where we go back to curated shoots and not worrying so much about the social media side of the job.

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