We had the good fortune of connecting with Hope Kahn- Hoffman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hope Kahn-, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
The one most important decision that helped me to create a successful photography business was to develop a niche’ market, creating one of a kind black and white children’s portraits. I was one of the only photographers in my area that was using film initially instead of using a digital camera. This helped me to create a unique look in my work I began to garner an exclusive photography clientele. Eventually my business grew in other directions photographing families, and corporate headshots
Now twenty- five years later and retired, I am a fine art photographer. I have come full circle back to film and the use of paper negatives. I am interested in an interpretation of what I see, not a direct likeness of my subject. Using the Holga Pinhole, and my hand-made cameras made out of vintage tins, I have found the ability to share an emotional connection between myself and the viewer in a way that I cannot reach with any other cameras that I have explored.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have over time become a low- tech photographer. I am interested in pushing my images so that the viewer may not know if it is a photograph or another medium. It is important for me to look for the unusual beauty when making an image. I believe that the photograph is but the bridge that provides the emotional and spiritual connection between the viewer and the art.
I am continually experimenting with a variety of finishing techniques in my images. This is what drives the diversity that you see on my website. I often find inspiration from the community of women artists that I have grown to love. They are awesome and inspiring. I run my ideas and work by them for their intense critiques and honesty. The number one thing I have learned is how valuable collaboration is. I would say for any artist that a supportive community is key, find it, and covet it.
Risk taking is important and necessary to move forward as an artist. I try to push myself further to get out of my comfort zone. I attend photo critiques on occasion. On one of these occasions I met with a juror from SFO Museum. I had just started a body of work photographing Topiaries from around the United States. This juror was interested in seeing the completed work. Three years later my work was shown at the SFO Museum in San Francisco.
One of my forever dreams was to be in a museum show and collection. A breakthrough came in my career after an introduction to an internationally known Artist, Author, and Board member of the Coral Springs Art Museum in Coral Springs Florida. This chance meeting offered the opportunity to have a piece included in the Coral Springs Art Museum Collection. Although, these highlights are delightful and encouraging, they do not compare to the excitement of the creative process. Without the risk of stepping out of my studio, and comfort zone I would not have had the chance to accomplish these goals.
The most interesting and engaging exhibit I was involved in was in 2002. I had a one-person exhibit called Ordinary Extraordinary People. How it came to be was through a dream I had after visiting my mom and her eighty-year-old friend Edda. I started asking Edda questions about herself and her life. Edda was fascinating and I realized that if I were interested, maybe others would be too, and a series was born! I began photographing people from all walks of life, ordinary human beings with incredible stories to share. I often say that if we were to talk to people on the street, or in an elevator, we would find a remarkable story in each person. The show could not have been more timely, as it took place a year after 9/11 when ordinary people became extraordinary hero’s. Some of the stories that were included in this show was a local fire company who had participated in the rescue at 9/11, a Holocaust Survivor that ran a boarding house, and a family that adopted twelve children, some disabled, and who lived in a two-bedroom house. The show was diverse in stories, and nearly all of the participants in this project attended the gallery opening. Truly a night of “hope” for the human spirit. The show taught me how powerful photography is in touching people’s lives.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My friend and I would start the day swimming some laps in the pool. Then, most definitely, we would go to the NORTON Museum, and the NORTON Sculpture Garden. Lunch would be at the Honor Bar, as the food is great, and people watching even better. We would end the day thrifting and shopping on Old Dixie at Vintage Stores.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A very special Shoutout to a talented painter and creator Hazel Griffiths for this nomination. Also, to my tribe of women photographers who has always supported my efforts. To all those artists that have laid the groundwork for me to step into.
Facebook: Hope Kahn
Other: Tumbler: hopekahnphotography