enRoute What drew you to photography and when did you realize you loved it?
Brendan George Ko I got into photography in high school. My mom was a photographer and I wandered into her closet one day and found an old Nikon that she learned photography with. She let me use it, but with the caveat of her teaching me to use it. We went to Pensacola, Florida with the camera and that first roll was what got me hooked. Half a lifetime later, I’m still doing it. In a place like Hawaii where the camera is seen with a negative connotation, I like being able to use it in a way that it hasn’t been used in a long time, acting as a lens that tells a different story of that place.
ER What story do you want your images to tell us about Hawaii?
BGK It’s the fact that I live between Canada and Hawaii that I see how Hawaii is perceived from the outside. Everyone seems so interested in that place, but they don’t know much about it, and what they do know is based on an image that has been prescribed to them since the 1950s. When you type “Hawaii” into Google, you get pictures of beaches and a luau. I want my work to correct that image. We see it as a destination, as an escape, and that’s fine that people are going there to relax, but the culture has so much value that we can all learn from.