Interview with Founding Member of Honolulu Street Photography Collective – Ian Hunt

  1. Hi Ian thanks for doing this. where do you live and how does this influence your photography?

I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. Other than the three years I spent in Reno Nevada, this has been my home. I think that where I live has had the greatest influence on where I shoot and what I shoot. Finding large groups of local people interacting in traditional public spaces is difficult. Most people who are employed in downtown Honolulu drive and park in the buildings where they work. Recently an increase in crime has made it really dangerous to shoot in our small chinatown. The work I create doesn’t look like the traditional imagery you’d see being made in the large metropolitan cities.

I’d say 75% of my work is near the ocean. I shoot regularly at Waikiki Beach and have spent significant amounts of time shooting at China Walls and Halona Cove. These are places that I frequented as a child and it’s been enlightening and interesting re-seeing these spaces through the lens of a camera. I find the intersection of Hawaiian culture and tourism fascinating. As you walk from the east side of Waikiki through and to the west side the ratio of locals to tourists gradually changes. You start on the east side with a 80% locals to 20% tourists ratio and end with a 20% locals to 80% tourists ratio.

I also find myself drawn to the human interaction present in commercial spaces. Shopping malls and large stores such as Costco and Target are the other spaces I enjoy shooting. I find capturing touching human moments in spaces where people are surrounded by imagery meant to demean and coerce intriguing and troubling simultaneously.  

  1. how did you get into photography

I used to do video work for fun. I would be the one who brought a small video camera with me to document whatever my group of friends were doing. I crashed my drone and bought my first DSLR with the insurance money. After having a conceptual image featured in a local photography exhibition, I met a few street photographers. That was it. I’m a little bit of an adrenalin junkie. I surf and used to skate. I love the hunt for a good photograph and the possibility of getting caught and a possible confrontation keeps things interesting.

  1. If you had to explain your work to someone who has no idea of what street photography is how would you describe it ?

Most importantly, I want my work to be a reminder that beauty and meaning can be found in the “mundane” moments of life. Reality is enough. With that as my goal, I look for candid moments of human interaction. If I can capture a truly meaningful human interaction within an aesthetically pleasing composition, I’ve created a great image. These are far and few between.

  1. What’s your thoughts on today’s street photography landscape?

A part of me feels that the humanistic street photography of Helen Levitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand would be lost amongst the surrealist use of complex light and shadow in contemporary street photography. Would their images make the final cut in contemporary street photography contests? I think the wide stylistic range of contemporary street photography is important for the genre. An argument could be made either way regarding the importance or benefit of participating in photography competitions. But, the styles have become so different that there is no fair way of determining which image is better. We could spend days debating what makes an image good, but separating street photographs by style would be a good start.

  1. What is one street photo you never get tired of?

This is such a hard question. I think it would have to be Alex Webb’s “Nuevo, Laredo 1996” image from “The Suffering of Light” In it is a well lit young couple romantically embracing on the right side of the frame. In the center of the frame is the silhouette of a father holding his daughter and on the left side of the frame you have a man walking with a well lit folder containing football cards. The use of light composition and color is incredible. Beneath the beauty of the image you have three different types of love shown: the love of a young couple; the love of a parent and child; lastly the love of a sport or team.

  1. Do you foresee Hawaii being a major location for street photography?

I hope not for at least ten years, maybe twenty. By then I might be good enough to compete with the masters. Then they are welcome in my territory. Hawaii has amazing places to shoot. You will need to work harder than you would in a large city such as New York. 

  1. Which street photographer inspires you and why?

Joel Meyerowitz. He helped shape modern street photography. He was one of the advocates for the acceptance of color into the photography art scene. When I’m struggling with my own work, I listen to him speak. His interviews on the Candid Frame podcasts are incredible. When I’m finished, I’m reminded of how important the work that we do on the street is. Usually that’s enough to get me out of my funk.

  1. Name three contemporary photographers you really admire?

Tim Huynh, Philippe Gross and Anthony Consillio. These are three local photographers that I respect and have played an invaluable part in my growth as a photographer. They all have been mentors, harsh critics and great friends.

Tim’s work is raw and real. He’s truly attracted to the bizarre and what some might consider grotesque. Where some might consider it exploitive, he’s actually challenging our notions of what is normal and what is beautiful. When you look at his work ask yourself, “What preconceived notions do I have that led me to react the way I did to this image?”

Anthony Consillio works primarily with abstract light and shadow imagery. His use of light, shadow, color, shape and form to evoke emotional responses is incredible. He’s patient and will return to the same spot for weeks trying to make the image he envisions.

Philippe Gross while being a master at composition and minimalism within his street images, has the uncanny ability to find and capture moments of humor and joy. He is truly a Humanist and has mastered a style of street photography that I find the most meaningful.

  1. If you can have dinner with one street photographer past or present who would it be? 

Joel Meyerowitz. You need to listen to him speak. Then you’ll understand.

  1. When you aren’t making pictures you are doing what?

Wishing I was making pictures. I’m also surfing and hiking with my family, playing tabletop roleplaying games, and building and driving radio control cars.

*You can keep up with Ian’s work below!

Instagram – @iankhunt

Website –

HNL Street Photography Collective – @hnlstreetcollective

Published by timhuynhphotos

Streetphotographer from Oahu, HI

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