Andrew Shoemaker, known to his friends as Andy, is a fine art photographer calling the beautiful sandy beaches of Maui, HI his home. His photography captures the color, life, and vibrance that encompasses the island lifestyle as well as the Maui Jim brand. But it’s his dedication to self-improvement and showing appreciation for all the love, passion, and community that helped him find his success that makes us proud to be able to call him one of our brand ambassadors. We caught up with Andy recently and had the chance to talk to him about both his life and his work.
Did you always want to be a photographer or was it an interest that developed over time?
I got into photography when I was younger, living in Colorado. I would go hiking, go skiing, and even ended up a member of a Jeep club, so I started carrying a camera around all the time to document those experiences. Everyone started liking my photos and over time I decided that I really enjoyed photographing landscapes, so I kept going out hiking and discovering new places, which was something I really loved. I met a lot of talented photographers along the way who were willing to teach me and give advice, and it all evolved from there.
What is it about Hawaii that made you want to live here?
I’ve only been living in Maui for three years. I used to travel out here all the time, and I just couldn’t stop coming back. It’s so beautiful, and when you’re doing photography, it’s incomparable. The diversity of the landscape is amazing. You can be on top of Haleakalā at ten thousand feet one minute and then down at sea level after only traveling an hour and a half.
What’s inspiring you right now?
Out here I’m starting to do gallery work for the first time, which has been both surprising and inspiring. I’m working with a place on Front street called Maui on Metal. Me and my wife were walking through there one day and I remember my wife saying, “You could do better.” I got in touch with them and things just ended up really taking off. I have another gallery in Makawao, in upcountry, that’s been taking a lot of time but it’s where I want to go in the future so it’s very exciting. The best feeling about gallery work, especially when you’re there on site, is seeing people connect with your art. With photography, when someone likes your art and they want to buy it, love it, and enjoy it forever… it’s very humbling. Connecting with people through an image, letting it take them away from ordinary life, and coming together because of that is the best part of being an artist and a photographer.
How do you discover locations for your shoots?
A lot of times it’s just stumbling upon a scene. I do a lot of exploring, especially on the coastline. I call it scouting, so you just walk along. When I’m not doing that, I use the internet to do research on areas that local people love and use that as a starting point. When I find a place, I typically have to photograph it on four or five different locations before I get the best shots. The right clouds, the right light. There can be a lot of disappointment in landscape photography because you spend so much effort to find the right place and mother nature isn’t always in agreement with your plans.
Do you travel between the islands a lot? What’s a day in the life like?
It kind of depends on what I’m feelin’ and what the conditions are. Like, recently there was a huge lava flow on the big island and I took a last minute trip there to take photos of it because you never want to miss those natural opportunities. I do enjoy going to Kauai a lot to photograph because it’s the oldest and is the most carved out by nature, which lends it a special charm. Starting this year with Maui Jim, they’re going to have me travel to a few different islands to get some landscape photography for them to use, which is a very exciting prospect.
Can you recall your the first project you did for us?
I got hooked up with Maui Jim on social media. You guys saw my photography online and we started working together after that. At first I was just photographing the sort of landscapes that I already loved to photograph and then eventually focused on photographing the product, the sunglasses, a little bit more, I believe you utilized them for a few social media campaigns.
Does the work you do for us stand out in anyway compared to some of your other projects?
It’s extra cool because I’m not just working, I’m working for a company with a product that I really love. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a friend somewhere like Hana (a beautiful coastal community in Maui) and we’re looking at the coast and they say how beautiful it is, and I hand them my Maui Jim sunglasses and say, “Look at this.” The cool thing is how the color is there but you just can’t see it because of various reflections. So now, when I take photos, I always have a polarizer on the end of my camera, so it’s like my camera gets to see the same thing I do.
Speaking of Maui Jim, what are some of your favorite pairs to wear either at home or when out scouting for a shoot?
My go-to, everyday pair of Maui Jims are the World Cup. It’s so bright here all the time and they knock out all the light. They’re honestly the best sunglasses I’ve ever had in my entire life. I wear them all the time but I also wear Red Sands and I just got a pair of the South Swell that are brand new and… they just fit my head really good. I know that sounds silly, but I have a small head, and they fit so perfectly. It’s great.
At Maui Jim, we believe that living with aloha means taking time to appreciate friendship, family, and the beauty of the world around you. Andy understands this way of life and how empowering it can be, which is why we are proud to be able to call him one of our brand ambassadors now and into the future.