Interview with John Hook

tommyshih-chinawalls-dronesurf-28 (photo credit: Tommy Shih) After shooting the most recent Vast x In4mation lookbook, we had the chance to catch up with photographer, John Hook, about his love for photography, surfing, and of course his involvement in the Vast x In4mation collaboration... Where did your love for surf come from? Just growing up in Hawaii, it’s hard to stay away from the ocean.  I played baseball my whole life then, when that got hard, I quit, and found some friends that were into bodyboarding.  I bodyboarded for a while till my mom started dating a guy that was into surfing, so she bought me a longboard so I could surf with him, he ended up teaching me to surf. What is your earliest surf memory? I remember my friends and I going to north shore for the first time (we were in middle school), we ended up at ‘Log Cabins’ though I had no idea what it was called back then.  I caught a little inside wave, and with no actual skill from myself, I surprisingly slid right into a sizable barrel, I had no idea what I was doing, so I instantly freaked out, closed my eyes and jumped off my board and got sucked over the falls.  I went in after that, and then bragged to all my friends that I got like a 10 second barrel, haha. How you first got involved in surf photography and how has your career evolved since then? That’s hard to say, in high school we’d all take turns video taping each other surfing from the beach then go home and dub the tape with some NOFX songs and make our own Momentum videos, i don’t know if that counts.   I’ve been surfing for about 20 years (man, seems I should be better by now), and have had a camera for about 15 years, and have been a professional photographer for about 5 years (not a professional surf photographer.)  I got into water photography a few years ago when I bought a housing off of a fellow wedding photographer, so I could take underwater portraits with it.  My buddy Zak Noyle brought me out to Pipeline for the first time this past winter, I was instantly hooked on "surf photography", it was such an amazing experience.  I figure I’ll probably never get a proper life changing wave on my surfboard out at Pipe, so being able to experience it from the line-up shooting photos is the next best thing. What are some of your favorite moments in your career? As a commercial/portrait photographer, the best part is definitely the people I get to photograph and meet, everyone from The President to The Dalai Lama, to war veterans and shark attack survivors.  Or on another day it’s seeing a father shed a tear while he dances with his daughter at her wedding, I’ve been so honored to be a part of so many special days and events through photography.  As far as surf photography goes, any day I’m shooting in the water is a ‘’day off’’ and it’s always enjoyable no matter what. Please tell us a little about the Vast X In4M shoot at Bellows.. It was so funny, because Jun Jo told me, “Hey some people wanna hire you to take surf/ camp photos for some boardshorts, you know like what you do in your free time anyway”. haha, so I was stoked to shoot it.  I love working with clients that have the same vision and lifestyle as me, it makes the shoot so much for fun, cause I’m not trying to create some make believe concept or trick a customer into believing some ‘make believe’ Hawaii lifestyle.  That shoot was awesome because everyone could be themselves, and the photos were just made naturally.  It was a great time for sure. What do you think is the future of your industry? I think the future is great.  People will always need photographs of things, and I love taking pictures of things.  Yes, more and more people are taking photos, cameras are far more accessible to everyone, but if you remain grounded, have a positive attitude and treat everyone with respect, smile everyday, there will always be something for you, good clients sometimes support the artist, not the art. Any exciting projects coming up? I’m trying to get to Tahiti for the first time this summer to shoot some photos, but would love to find a way to get the trip paid for via shooting something, so it doesn’t look like I’m just bailing out on my family for a personal dream vacation.  Maybe more art shows? I had a fun little art show recently at a local film shop called The Treehouse, where I showed some photographs from Pipeline I shot on film.   I’d love to show some more “art” stuff this year and ‘’work’’ a little less.  All work and no play makes John a dull boy. Take a look at these amazing shots by John: Vast_020 Vast_022 Vast_037 Vast_043 Vast_048 Vast_080 Vast_082 Vast_084 Vast_107 Vast_089 Vast_102