After attending dozens of photo conventions on the mainland, photographer Ric Noyle set out to launch one in the state that he has called home for more than three decades. “I find [conventions] a very happy place to be, mingling with like-minded photographers, perusing new equipment, and more importantly, coming home fresh with creative juices ready and eager for my next assignment,” the South African-born Noyle says. This weekend, Noyle kicks off PhotoCon Hawai‘i, a world-class photography convention that will not only fulfill the needs of the professional elite, but act as a platform for photographers of all types and skill levels to connect, interact, and learn together. In order to learn more about the upcoming convention, we went straight to the visionary himself.
How long have you been shooting?
I’ve had my own studio for around 30 years or so.
What are some of the cameras you shoot with?
I have multiples. Of course I shoot Canon for 35mm, which I enjoy very much. I have a Phase 1, which shoots medium format, and I have a very unusual camera that most people don’t consider, a 4×5 digital. I got it when it came out back in 1996. There have been three generations of it and I’ve gotten them all as they’ve improved.
So you shoot film, too? I’m sad that I missed out on the days of Kodachrome.
Oh yeah! Kodachrome was magnificent. It was so pleasing to look at, but little by little, the color is weeping out. Back in the day, Kodak had this big lab across from McKinley High School and every night, invariably I would dash in three minutes to 7’oclock because it was like a mail-drop: If you got your film in before 7 you could get it the next day. There were always six or seven other photographers doing the same thing.
Well it paid off, you’ve become a prominent photographer.
I like to think so [laughs]. I think that I’ve had a good margin of success in Hawai‘i. I’ve seen a lot of colleagues come and go—it’s not an easy place to survive. There’s good competition, and I think that the competition helps me. I see people shooting really good stuff, and it makes me want to be better.
You’re very successful professionally; do you ever go out and shoot just for fun?
I do shoot a lot for myself just because I find that it gives me my own energy, having the ability to look for nice light is part of my DNA, it’s how I operate. I was having breakfast last Sunday, and this girl who was getting married was standing with her mom and light was coming through the window, I turned to them and said I’m a historian documenting a piece of history and shot a couple photos on my phone. I couldn’t resist.
Let’s talk about PhotoCon. What made you want to launch something like this?
I’ve been to dozens of PhotoCons all over America and I found that it was my happy place. I saw things that I wanted to know about, I saw products that I wouldn’t have found, and I met people that were like-minded. I came back last year from one of the conventions in LA and I thought, “how come we’ve never had one here?” Hawai‘i’s got a phenomenal wealth of multitalented people, but somehow we get a little splinted. There’s no way that we talk to each other or interrelate. Back in the day, I used to see other photographers at photo labs, and we’d communicate that way. But today, in the digital world, we are all independent; there isn’t a lot of connectivity amongst ourselves. I thought if we could bring in world-class speakers, and utilize the good speakers in our own state, we’d have something to go on.
So this is the first year?
I’m on a five-year plan. I realized when I first started PhotoCon that it’d take me a couple of years to make it a viable operation. Right now I’m funding the whole thing myself, with help from people in the community and all of our sponsors. When I started this, my wife thought I was crazy because she knew I wouldn’t make any money from it, but it didn’t bother me. I feel that if I can move through another four years, I can turn it into something that will be good for the state. We can highlight local talent, as well as bring people from out of state to share their knowledge.
As a typical attendee, what can I expect to see at PhotoCon?
It’ll have something for all levels and needs. I’ve got over 25 workshops happening over two days. Phase 1 is bringing a couple of very prominent photographers to speak, one of which is Steven Katzman. He’s got a very interesting style; it’s his lighting skill that makes it just gorgeous. Here’s the thing about it: Every single thing at PhotoCon is something that I’d personally like to attend.
I heard there’s also a photo contest going on?
We got 640 entries, and we tried to keep it at 30 winners but none of us could take one out. All the judges were adamant. We couldn’t let a single one go, so instead of a nice round 30, we’ve got three winners, a DJI/Drone Services of Hawaii special aerial award, and 32 finalists. Pictures Plus is printing them on metal, and Island Air is sponsoring a floating gallery, which will take the printed artwork from island to island to be displayed in different galleries. This way, we can promote those individual photographers as well as promote PhotoCon 2018.
I’ve got two things that I think are great. Paradise Helicopters is giving away one-hour helicopter tours for two people. We will draw a person’s name each day, and the two winners will go up with me to the North Shore and shoot whatever we see. I’ll show them how I go about shooting aerials; how I plan it out, and get the shots I want. I’m also working with the KCC culinary school to do a pop-up three course meal, where we will teach people how to shoot food with their iPhones, how their friends can help them with lighting, and a couple of useful apps.
Know that as a photographer you are also a historian, and future generations will thank you for capturing the beauty that surrounds you and our precious islands. Also, shoot loose and edit tight!
See the full schedule of events HERE. PhotoCon Hawai‘i happens this weekend at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. For more information, or to register online, visit photoconhawaii.com/registration.