Pearl City High School - Class of 1997
Director of Photography: Flux Magazine / Freelance Photographer
Remember when your parents or your aunties and uncles said, “You think it’s stupid now? You’re going to need it in the future!” John Hook does. As a teenager at Pearl City High School in the mid-90s, he thought that all he knew was right and of course, in his mind, that was all that really mattered. A shy kid who became extroverted later on in school, Hook recalls how he simply dismissed what older generations were telling him, because he and his friends thought they had life all figured out.
“When I was young, I’d think ‘there’s no way these people are right.’ It’s very easy to get in the mode of ‘nah, I’ll be good. I have my four friends in high school and we should be good the rest of our lives working part-time.’ You cannot fathom when you’re young how that doesn’t make sense,” says Hook.
What would he go back and say to his teenage self? To listen more, because “there is truth to what caring adults say, and it’s amazing how quickly that time frame of high school goes by.”
Hook recounts his academic work as “super average” in high school. After graduating in 1997, he spent time at Leeward Community College studying television production. Eventually, he found himself working long hours at a job he describes as being “not at all what I really wanted to do.” Then, a meeting with professional photographer, Dave Miyamoto, would change all that. Hook’s mother had bought him his first film camera as an adolescent. Suddenly, inspired by Miyamoto, Hook saw a passion he had for years begin to take shape as a possibility for the future.
Yet, photography work didn’t come wrapped up with a bow on top. In fact, Hook describes the choice to leave his regular job as “at least a year of absolute mental breakdown stuff where I was like ‘did I make the right decision?’” Artistic pursuits, he asserts, involve work, passion, commitment and often “starting off at the bottom where things are very uncomfortable.”
Today, John Hook lives as a husband, father, and as the Director of Photography for Flux Magazine. He is an award-winning freelance photographer and runs his professional photography business, johnhookphoto.com.
We can say with certainty that John Hook is no longer “super average.”
Talk more about the idea of working to live rather than working for the future.
It makes so much more sense to work for the moment you want to live in right now. You’ll see people who are retired and come to Hawaii for the first time and it’s like “oh my God, you waited 80 years!” I want to live like I’m retired now, just incase I don’t make it to that age (laughs). You have to live as happy as you can in the moment. I feel like that’s a new way of thinking, because when I was young, it was “go to high school, go to college, get a salary job, and retire.” Instead, you can turn that thing you are passionate about into the way you want to live.
What is success for you?
In my mind, I’m successful when I have more time than I used to. When I had a nine to five job, it was just a paycheck. I would only look forward to my days off. Now that I can make my own schedule, I can literally say, “Ok, I’m going to work this day and take that day off.” Flexibility is success for me, being able to take my daughter to school every day, and being home most of the time for her, that’s big for me.
Why do you choose to live, work, and play in Hawaii?
It’s hugely because I’m in love with the ocean. Surfing, taking pictures in the water, and swimming. Hawaii is a melting pot of people. Now that I’ve been here so long and go back to the mainland to visit, you realize how open and diverse Hawaii is. It’s way more mellow and accepting of everybody which makes your decisions of what you want to do in Hawaii easier. No one is giving you a “well, that’s weird” or “that’s a bad idea.” Hawaii is a beautiful place and because of that, it makes it easier for me to make a living here. It’s the best place to be a photographer.