In Hawaii, where basically 100% of this place is photogenic in one way or another, photography (for most of us) is just a hobby. But a growing network of photographers have figured out how to make a career out of it—by taking pictures of beautiful people wearing beautiful things.
As part of the Hawaii Fashion Month Shop Your Mall series of events, Kahala Mall will present prints by local fashion photographers in a pop-up gallery exhibition titled Snapshot of Style. Kicka Witte, Keith Kandell, John Hook, David Murphey, and Dallas Nagata White are a few of the photographers featured.
Nagata White is the photographer behind (and starring in) the infamous “Lava Kiss” photo that went viral last year and ended up on The Atlantic’s shortlist of favorites in the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest in 2012. She is nominated in the Photographer of the Year category in this year’s Governor’s Fashion Awards alongside Mellie Tjeong and Harold Julian.
She admits that, while her photographs are an extension of her original interest in Baroque painting and her desire to be a painter,“It’s easier to be commercially successful as a photographer.”
Just as fashion is nothing without its designers, Nagata White says fashion relies on a photographer to show it to the people. “What consumers see more than anything is the photography, because imagery is everywhere,” she says. “Photographers are the ones who bring fashion to potential customers. Because, even if they don’t go out to buy whatever was pictured, at least they’ve seen it and are aware of it. Fashion, in itself, is an art form, but if it’s not bought, at least it gets appreciated through looking at photos of it.”
Lifestyle photographer John Hook, also featured in Snapshot of Style, is known for his fashion editorials for Flux Magazine. He explains that he only feels successful as a fashion photographer when both he and the designer walk away from the shoot creatively satisfied.
“I don’t understand fashion at all, why some things are so popular, why designers are good. To me, I’m like the average Joe,” he says. “I just make images that somebody like me would relate to. […] Most people are going to get their fashion taste or what they like about fashion from seeing images. That’s the easiest way for someone to relate to something. ‘I see it and I get it’, or I love it or hate it, or whatever. Photography is so important, because you have to portray the designer’s ideas and have your own kind of style to it, too, while bringing the designer’s vision to the average person. That’s a lot of responsibility. Sometimes, in the end, the photographer plays more of a role; the designer has to trust that person to get that vision across.”
In addition to seeing the works of these photographers, guests at the Snapshot of Style event will also enjoy a store crawl with light refreshments from Southern Wine and Spirits and pupu from Kahala Mall restaurants. A scavenger hunt will send participants to find five featured photographs hidden in five participating stores. All you have to do is check in at center court for your VIP Event Pass—it’s free and includes a one-night-only 25%-off coupon. Return your completed scavenger hunt pass to be automatically entered to win a two-night stay at The Modern Honolulu, a Kahala Mall shopping spree, and other prizes.
The five scavenger hunt photographs will also be featured in a silent auction held on Oct. 16 that benefits Kapiolani Medical Center’s Campaign for Children.
Want more fashion photography? Be sure to check out the exhibition, xthree, at fishcake, featuring the work of Sergio Goes, Chris McDonough, and Daniela Voicescu, on view through Nov. 13.
Snapshot of Style starts at Kahala Mall’s center court, 4211 Waialae Ave., Wed., Oct. 16, 5:30–8:30pm, free. For more information and to see which stores will participate, visit kahalamallcenter.com.
“Lava Kiss” photo, copyright Dallas Nagata White, courtesy of Kahala Mall Center.