KIHEI - Local photographer Douglas J. Hoffman uses his lens as a language. His underwater photographs, many of which are taken in waters off Hawaii, have been picked up by international organizations to aid environmental activism, thus helping causes where Hoffman can use his creativity to communicate.
"My pictures speak so I don't have to," Hoffman said. "Important environmental concepts are being addressed that I could never put to words. They have experts who write compelling reasons, and my images drive the message home. I hope my photographs evoke an emotional response."
In April, Hoffman's shark photographs were used by two Humane Society International projects to help end shark finning in China. His photos reached thousands via large displays, brochures and Internet. While shark fin soup is a traditional Asian delicacy, HIS's global campaign aims to draw global attention to shark finning and its impact on shark populations and the ocean's delicate ecosystem.
This oceanic whitetip shark was photographed in Hawaii’s waters as it followed a group of pilot whales.
Douglas J. Hoffman photo
A lemon shark is shown in Fiji’s waters. Both images were included in Humane Society International campaign’s to end shark finning.
Douglas J. Hoffman photo
Hoffman's images have also been used in international campaigns to protect whales, dolphins, turtles and other marine life. He also created Art for Conservation, where 50 percent of the net proceeds from his limited-edition portraits go to nonprofit organizations such as The Whale Dolphin Conservation Society, the Pacific Whale Foundation and the Japanese Red Cross. Each of which are "dedicated to protecting whales and our marine environment," according to Hoffman.
"I love our ocean and our planet," Hoffman said. "We all have a responsibility to do what we can. Maybe this is my way to give back and to preserve the Earth for my kids and for their kids."
Hoffman's underwater photography has received numerous awards and his work was recently added to Lahaina Artist Emporium at 700 Front St. Known for underwater photography of whales, sharks, turtles and coral reefs, Hoffman's collection includes new pieces that capture local scenes - the old church past the Kaupo store on the backside of Hana, a waterfall along the road to Hana, sunset from Makena and the bamboo forest in Huelo, among others. His portraits are printed on aluminum and canvas.
The artist, who lives with his two daughters and wife, Mieko, in Kihei, said that global issues have local impact, and that each individual can bring about change.
"We have to think not only about here at home, but also globally," Hoffman said. "In Hawaii, we are a combination of every race on earth. If we all make an effort, we can all make a difference."
For more information, www.douglasjhoffman.com.
- Kehaulani Cerizo