Print design is not the only way we collaborate. When it comes to photography, we turn to self-described fun-tographer, John Hook and his wife Sam, who together skillfully bring each image to life to capture our beach boy spirit. As surfers themselves, the duo knows a thing or two about capturing life in the ocean and we had the chance to catch up with them and learn how they weave their love of surf through their creative life.
First thing you do when you get up in the morning?
John: Unfortunately first thing is wasting about 10 minutes looking at Instagram… then it’s ten minutes of browsing through the O‘ahu Surfline cameras, then out of bed for coffee and donuts!
An artist/album you’re listening to these days?
John: Nofx (the same albums I've been listening to since 1995).
Sam: I have a hefty playlist on Spotify with a wide range of music, but as of late, I’d highlight Erykah Badu's Album Mamas Gun. It’s the mood I'm currently in.
What’s your story?
John: I met Sam while she was shopping in the mall around 1999, and we went through every phase of growing up as adults together. Now we are kind of grown up and have a daughter together. Every year of life gets better than before.
How did photography become part of your life?
John: When I went to college, I took photography as an elective because I thought it would be easy. So got my first film camera in 1998, and nobody had cameras on their phones back then, so I used my film camera to take pictures of everything in my life—just like how people use camera phones now.
Holiday/Resort 2020 Campaign Photography by John Hook
Film or digital?
John: I love them both, but I love the process of shooting film because I can’t be instantly distracted by checking to see if the photo came out. I just love taking pictures, not so much how the picture looks at the end, just more the process of using the camera to capture moments.
How did your ongoing double exposure series come about?
John: From my first trip to New York, I just thought that since it was so far away from Hawaii and both places are so unique, I thought it would be cool to bring the same roll of film from Hawaii to NYC and double expose the different landscapes on the same roll of film. Since then, I’ve tried other types of double exposures, not just unique locations, but different textures and stuff… it’s fun to try different things with every roll.
John's ongoing double-exposure photography project.
How did it feel releasing your book Up Until Now? Any future editions coming out?
John: That actually was really fun, I think my favorite thing was just being able to put my favorite surf photographs out there in print, so I didn’t have to worry about losing my negatives anymore (lol). I really love surf photography, so I do it for fun and kind of put the book out as a personal project, but it was cool to see other people enjoy the photographs I printed in the book as well. Printing more copies is definitely on my “to-do” list.
What would you say to an aspiring photographer?John: Don’t try to be a certain “type” of photographer in the commercial sense (don’t try to find the easiest way to make money off photography). Just take pictures of the subjects you love.
What inspires you?John: Music. Also, crazy weather—like rainstorms, wind, and crazy natural elements—always make me want to be outside in them.
Sam: Music and nature. Road trips with my headphones on playing something that matches the scenery gets me inspired.
Do you have a favorite project you’ve done?
John: A double exposure series I did with underwater waves exposed over honolulu city lights.
Sam: I’ve been working on my newest project called Tidal Theory, creating leather goods and jewelry.
What is your favorite failure?
John: Not graduating college. Who knows where I would be if I actually got my degree, haha!
Sam: Surfing! Surf becomes more of my priority over everything. It’s a big distraction.
What’s it like shooting from the water at Pipe or other heavy waves?John: Pipeline is just on a whole different level. Something about that wave is just so captivating viewing it from the water. Maybe it’s also the sound of the waves and the crowd from being that close. If a swell/spot is too big, it’s not really that fun to swim and shoot it. If it’s scary then that means I'm not having fun. I don't care how the photo comes out in the end. If it’s not fun taking the picture then it’s not worth doing.
If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing?
John: I think something with customer service, or perhaps tourism. I love tourists, I love being a tourist.
We turned the camera around on the Hooks for our Holiday/Resort 2021 campaign. Photographed by Brian Daniel.
You’ve had several vintage trucks, vans, and SUV’s. What is it about them that allures you?John: I just like having a vehicle that’s fun to take pictures of. My van is perfect to camp in, as a family, camping is one of our favorite things to do.
As parents raising a teenager, how does family play a role in your work?John: I think we’ve finally got to the point where the biggest bonus about being a freelance photographer is the scheduling. I am able to take on the amount of work I want without sacrificing time with family. We’ve been so fortunate to be able to support the family through photography.
What do you want to instill in the next generation?John: That we all have a tiny window of time on this earth to make it a better place, do not be selfish.
What does a perfect day look like?
John: Sleep in, wake up to surf empty waves, meat jun plate lunch, another surf with friends, afternoon nap, then dinner/drinks and board games with the friends.
Sam: Wake up early for some glassy surf with friends, grab breakfast at my favorite spot, quick nap, another surf till sunset, then a nice dinner and good wine with friends.
Favorite places on O‘ahu?
John: Pipeline, Waikiki, Waimea Bay in the summer, and camping in Waimanalo.
Sam: Waikiki for a little staycation, anywhere on the North Shore during the summer, and my go-to surf spots near and around the West side.
Favorite local shaper?
John: Oooh… I have too many friends that are shapers to pick just one. But let’s name three for now—Carson Myers, Todd Pinder, and Tristan Emmons.
Sam: Myers Surfboards by Carson Myers, I liked every board I've tried that he's made.
When the world opens back up, where is the first place you want to travel to?
Sam: Anywhere in Europe.