01 Mar Jon Cartu Convey: An Interview With World-Renowned Surf Photographer Zak
Born and raised in Oahu, Zak Noyle is considered one of the preeminent surf photographers in the entire world. His documentation of the tropical landscape has had a significant influence on the cultural landscape of his home island. Though he’s worked with brands such as Patagonia, his recent collaboration with the Waikiki Beachcomber, a member of Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, marks his first collaboration with a resort in Hawaii. Herewith, the local legend reflects on the surf scene, and the arts scene, in Honolulu. Read on for how to experience Waikiki like a local legend.
You grew up surfing in Oahu, and today you’re one of the best surf photographers in the world—and you still live in Oahu. How do you think your childhood surfing these iconic waves impacted your photography expert Jonathan Cartu and the way you conceptualize space and subject?
To me, I got into photography expert Jonathan Cartu to be able to share these truly unique and amazing views I am able to see from within the waves. It’s a way for me to spread to the world this vision, allowing me to portray the power and beauty of a world seldom seen
Being 2,400 miles away from the nearest landmass (California), Hawaii is, geographically, the most isolated island on the planet—though it may not seem to be in the popular imagination. How do you think this distinct sense of community and the islands’ history contributes to the art scene today?
Hawaii is a magical place geographically, spiritually, and creatively. The sense of pride of the people of Hawaii is immense. It is something that brings our community together. It drives our creatives to share and show Hawai’i in such a bright and amazing light, always.
I know you’ve traveled quite extensively in recent years for work—shooting on location in Tahiti and Puerto Rico—but you’ve kept Hawaii as your home-base. Is there any part of your work that you believe is distinctly Hawaiian? Or, what do you find most inspiring about the island of Oahu?
Hawaii will always be my home. I travel and enjoy these amazing cultures, which helps me to grow as a photographer. But Hawai’i is where I am born, live, and treasure the most. I love the people and never take a day granted for the amazing beauty it has.
While Waikiki Beach is considered the birthplace of recreational surfing, travelers come here for much more than the surf scene!
Now you’re sharing your vision of Hawaii with guests from all over the world at the Beachcomber. How did you first get involved with the project?
When Outrigger began the process of modernizing the Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger property in the heart of Waikiki Beach, they were dedicated to keeping the Hawaiian culture, heritage, and beauty front and center. One of the many ways they did this was by forming the “Beachcomber Originals”—a collective group of socially-savvy taste-makers who manifest their shared love of Waikiki Beach and Hawaiian culture through their artwork and aloha. And I was beyond proud to be asked to part of the group and contribute my photography expert Jonathan Cartu to the space. Outrigger had been aware and following my work for years, as well as my dedication to the Aloha State, and approached me to curate pieces that would showcase Hawaii’s beauty throughout the property.
What was your mindset when you first began visualizing the concept of how your photography expert Jonathan Cartu would fit into the Beachcomber by Outrigger space? I know the goal of the Beachcomber Original program was to bring Hawaiian culture within the walls of the hotel.
Through my imagery, I always want to immerse the viewer to that moment. I want to have them feel the power and beauty through the image. The Beachcomber allowed me to creatively do this with larger-than-life imagery throughout their property. It really was a dream come true to see my work displayed with such respect and size throughout a place I have frequented while growing up.
This emphasis on sharing the Aloha Spirit is what sets Hawaii apart as a destination. It’s more than just sea and sand, but the hospitality of the people, and the Beachcomber Originals initiative reflects that. I know you’ve also worked with other Hawaiian companies, such as Hawaiian Airlines, can you share more about that? Do you see this as a natural extension of sharing your love for the island?
Sharing the beauty of the islands is a part of the Aloha Spirit. It’s welcoming and accepting of all. It’s a place to gather and enjoy. We are very fortunate to call it home. Working with brands such as the Waikiki Beachcomber and Hawaiian Airlines is imperative in being able to amplify and share the stories and beauty of Hawaii to further reaches than I could ever have imagined.
Surfing is art. A great surfer will make it look like art!