With a keen eye for natural beauty, a go-anywhere, do-anything personality, and a host of friends across Hawai‘i, photographer Jake Marote shares his secrets for getting the shot.
Jake Marote is no stranger to bouncing between the Hawaiian Islands. At first, friends, family, and an innate desire to explore the outdoors took Jake island hopping across the state. But about five years ago, a friend created an Instagram account for Jake and handed him a GoPro, and the rest is history. Quickly evolving from his iPhone to the world of DSLR cameras and underwater housing, Jake is now a seasoned professional photographer working in the surf industry and traveling the world to get the shot. With help from his peers and the self-discipline to research and implement best practices while learning from trial and error, Jake made the jump from hobbyist to professional. In between photo sessions with John, Bryce, and Elliana, we caught up with Jake to get some outdoor photography tips and his perspective on shooting in the islands.
Photos by OluKai
What types of imagers do you post? Jake: I try to keep it versatile and not really stick to one thing. I dip into all these different hobbies that I have. If the wind is good, then I’ll go diving or fishing from the Jet Ski. And if the wind’s really bad, then I’ll try and do something on land, whether it’s hunting, hiking, riding bike, or dirt bike—anything to get outdoors.
Where has your photography taken you? I’ve gone to Switzerland to shoot the most random stuff. We surfed in freezing lakes and did a bunch of canoeing. I’ve been to Bali and many other third-world countries. Since I mostly work in the surfing industry, I travel throughout the summer looking for waves in secluded, semi-exotic locations.
Do you get to island hop around Hawai'i often? I was island hopping before I got into photography because I have a lot of friends and family that live on outer islands, whether it’s Kaua‘i or Moloka‘i. I had the nickname Manuela Boy, which in Hawaiian means a wanderer, or to go with the flow. But once I really got into photography I was island hopping just to take pictures of beautiful landscapes and the people. Now I can pick up jobs and island hop to neighbor islands as well.
Where is your favorite place to shoot? My most favorite place to shoot is underwater, whether it’s marine life, or diving, or surfing. When I first started shooting, I was diving with my DSLR camera and my water housing. Everything fell into place when I was in the water. I’ve always had a passion for surfing, diving, and fishing. Hawai‘i has greatly influenced my photography. It makes my life, and job, a lot easier, as it’s so easy to go outside and search for a good photo opportunity. There’s so much beauty here—it’s just a footstep out of your front door.
Photos by OluKai
Can you share some photography tips? For starters, it’s important to have a lot of charged batteries and empty memory cards, because you’ll be taking a lot of photos. Be respectful of where you’re shooting. Don’t go trampling all over all of the bushes or whatnot. Before you go out and shoot photos, look around and observe the area and any people around. If you don’t see the local going to a certain area, or doing what you want to do, then maybe it’s not a good idea. And bring a rain jacket and a waterproof cover for your camera bag, because it could be sunny one minute and then five minutes later it’s pouring rain. Always try to think outside the box and figure out how to shoot things differently. This way you can stand out and make a name for yourself. Research what other people on social media are doing and figure out how you can better your photos based on what you see—think about how you could make an image different by approaching it from a different angle or by playing with the light.
How should photographers balance sharing beautiful photography with overexposing fragile environments? As much as I want to share how beautiful Hawai‘i is with the world, I also don’t want to bring all kinds of crowds. I’ve seen so many places, especially on my home on the Big Island, where social media is exposing our local spots. There’s more litter. You can’t find parking—it takes away from the natural beauty of what it used to be. It’s fine to portray Hawai‘i as this beautiful place where the sun’s always shining and the water is always nice, but at the same time you have to respect the people that live here, and respect the land you’re indulging in.