Photographer Pat Komick. Photo courtesy Pat Komick
by Kathryn Cross
In September, 15-year-old Pat Komick opened a photo gallery of his own prints in his Manhattan Beach home. He selected shots from the last nine months and printed 120 of them on a canvas. He was expecting a few friends and family to come to his show.
More than 100 people arrived. Many bought his photos, leaving Komick with nearly $1,000 in revenue. He received approximately 55 custom orders of his photos, including a 24 x 36 inch metallic print which sold for $250.
“In the five hours I had the gallery, I was overwhelmed by the support of so many people,” he said.
Photographer Jackson Hawkins. Photo by Kathryn Cross
His friend and fellow photographer-on-the-rise, 14-year-old Jackson Hawkins, has been following in Komick’s footsteps — as well as making a few footprints of his own.
As 8th graders, Komick and Hawkins began occasionally photographing or filming nature or action shots. Each soon realized that photography was a true passion. Sometimes they would shoot together.
“One night under the pier, we learned more about light paintings together,” Hawkins remembered.
“We shot the sunset and I showed him how to change the settings to take photos the way he wanted to,” Komick added.
Each started photography differently.
It began for Komick when he learned to surf at the age of seven. He recalls observing exactly where and when waves and the beach looked its best. Once in a while, someone would catch a picture of him while he was surfing.
“I loved photos of me surfing,” he said. “I’d be really happy, so I wanted to give happiness to other people.”
Komick then started taking photos of his friends, the ocean, and nature. As he became more focused on his new passion, he sought out the true fundamentals of photography.
“Especially with the popularity of Instagram and iPhones, more people are getting into photography. But it’s more than just clicking a few buttons,” Komick said. “Everyone with an iPhone thinks they’re a photographer.”
He was largely self-taught, but soon found some mentors. Through Instagram, Komick discovered and contacted Pete Halvorsen, a Manhattan Beach-based ocean photographer who tells stories through images, including features on “Good Morning America” and that of an orphanage in Malawi, Africa.
Halvorsen was able to show Komick the ropes of taking and editing top-quality photographs. Additionally, Komick found a few people at a popular surfing spot in Newport Beach who enjoy ocean photography also.
“A lot of people shoot there, so I found a solid group of guys I’ve made friends with,” he said.
Last January, Komick began sharing his work on the popular blogging program, Tumblr. His shots of the pier, ocean, and surfers quickly attracted attention. People contacted him to ask about ordering shots. He expanded his Tumblr blog to two full-fledged websites where his photos can be purchased, and publicized his work through Instagram and Facebook. Since his event last September, he has been contacted by clients all around the United States. He has partnership with the outdoor and surf apparel company, Hippy Tree, in the works.
In the meantime, Komick continues to learn.
“I take pictures everyday, sometimes twice a day—usually in the morning when the sun comes up and there is a unique color in the waves,” he said, noting he participates in early morning Mira Costa surf P.E. program. “I also take photos in the evenings when the waves are really good.”
To take water shots, he puts his camera — a Canon 7D — in a professional water housing and delves into the ocean’s waters. He often swims out to where the best angles are and he carries precisely 12 pounds of photo equipment for five to six hours to capture the best photos he possibly can. Then, he puts himself in accordance with his subject.
“I wait for the wave to come over me and hold my camera up with me hand and then go under the wave,” he said. “…I don’t have patience for anything — just the ocean.”
After taking his photos, Komick begins the editing process. This isn’t just about scenic locations and iridescent colors. He’s looking for feeling.
“A lot of times, my Instagram and Facebook followers don’t live by the beach,” he said. “I want even them to see my photos and feel something when they look at the image.”
“One of my greatest achievements is being able to be confident in my work and having my images in other people’s homes,” he added. “My images are now at the point where if you see them, you can tell that that’s a Pat Komick photo.”
Photo by Pat Komick
He hopes his journey as a photographer has just begun.
“I want to explore the world with my camera and see what I can capture,” Komick said. “I want to make it into a profession, but if not, I just want to give people happiness with my images.”
Hawkins shares such aspirations. But how he got there is a different story.
He first began taking photos in his native country, Australia, where he lived until 2010. As an actor and aspiring filmmaker, Hawkins had been exposed to various film cameras. He soon began to use them, too.
“I used to travel a lot and do a lot of really cool things,” he said. “But I felt like no one could get the true idea of what I was talking about, so I wanted them to experience it too.”
Hawkins shared his videos over Youtube, and later Vimeo, where he posted mini-films of him and his friends surfing in Australia and later Manhattan Beach, where he currently resides. Instagram also helped him gain an audience.
“Instagram really has done a fantastic job of showing each person’s perspective through photos,” he said.
The popular Australian singer, Cody Simpson, helped to promulgate Hawkins’s work when he posted an Instagram photo of himself surfing in Manhattan Beach that Hawkins took. With 118,000 likes and a caption that credited Hawkins, the young photographer’s popularity on Instagram ballooned. He has since been offered several photo and filmmaking opportunities.
“I want to wait until things are more organized, and then I’ll start taking gigs,” Hawkins said.
He has created a website where people can view and purchase his prints and plans to show his work in a gallery next year. For the time being, he continues to do what he loves.
“I mostly do water shots, like of surfing and other action shots,” he said. “I also love filming adventures and exploring.”
Photo by Jackson Hawkins
With his Cannon T3i, Hawkins is able to capture any moment whenever he wants to.
“Whenever I have a memory, I can always capture it and rather than having to think about it in my head,” he said. “I can have it there for life.”
While maintaining originality, Hawkins sometimes edits with the iPhone applications,White-a-gram and Squarity. He then proceeds to upload his photos on his various social media accounts.
“I want people to see how I see things, but to look at it at a different angle and make them feel emotions,” he said.
Hawkins hopes to continue to broaden his world through photography.
“Photography has made me look at the world differently, but I want to be a filmmaker,” he said. “It’s a thing that I love to do.”
For more information, visit Komick’s Instagram @komickkaptures and central website, www.komickkaptures.com and Hawkins’s Vimeo @jacksonhawkins and website, http://www.jhfilmsandphotos.net.