Ever since high school, Kyle and his wife had the dream of establishing a creative brand to house and realize their artistic visions. Today, they’re living out their dream through Young Reverie Arts – a creative powerhouse that combines art, fashion, photography, videography, and most importantly, good vibes. Check his story out below.
Say hello to Kyle:
Where are you from? Where have you been?
Currently residing in Kapolei, Hawaii. I’ve been to a handful of the continental US states and have lived in South Carolina for about four years. Would love to travel to Europe sometime soon.
What’s your favorite place in the world?
Any place that helps me to feel relaxed and free will usually be my favorite place in the moment. But if I think about it, I do have one specific beach on my side of the island that is my personal getaway. I have quite a few favorite photos from there including the one used above as the intro image.
Can you tell us your full name and the meaning behind it?
Kyle Addison Kahopukaunaokalaniopu’u Wright. “Addison” is a family name spread out amongst the males on my dad’s side. As far as my Hawaiian name goes, it’s more of an ancestral name given to me to show my family lineage and where I come from, more so than having an actual meaning. Kalaniopu’u was one of the high chiefs of Hawaii and Kahopukauna was his nephew. You would have to actually look back into Hawaiian history and learn about Kalaniopu’u, who he was and why he was given his name to understand the meaning.
What’s on your “bucket list” of ideas to create?
I have a few ideas where the end product would actually be the ultimate goal – ideas such as gallery showings or even trying to land a few spreads in a magazine or create ads for major companies. I guess, because the work of a photographer is a little different from actual artists like painters or sculptors, the bucket list is more akin to being dream projects or surreal moments to capture, rather than ideas being used to create a physical piece of art. Doing ads for major brands/companies I use myself, or shooting for my favorite bands, would be high on the list as well.
How would you describe your visual style?
Colorful, diverse, experimental, moody, strange, vivid, and weird.
How do you find your inspiration?
I actually get a lot of inspiration from music. I’ve had certain images pop up in my head that ended being created just by listening to certain songs. I also get inspired by other artist’s work or ideas from past and present. Movies, and the way its story is told narratively, visually and rhythmically. Colors and their moods. The people around me, and the moments of everyday life, whether big or small.
Do you get photographer’s block? If so, how do you overcome that?
Not yet, technically speaking. Not as far as ideas in my head go, but more so, being able to execute these ideas in the real world. I try to do things in camera 97% of the time, and the other 3% is basic post-processing (adjusting color temps, shadows, highlights, etc.), so a lot of my ideas require actual real, physical things man-made or from nature. Things like locations, props, natural and artificial lighting, set pieces I need to craft myself or even real people in real time situations. So the blocks are more about not having the right gear, equipment, people or even the right conditions. In my mind, the more organic the image feels, the more impressive it is, which is why I shoot the way I do. I’ve gotten over these snags by renting what I needed (always from a fantastic local shop called Hawaii Camera), buying new gear that will help me progress, and planning shoot days to ensure at the very least, usable conditions.
Tell us the significance behind the name of your studio, Young Reverie Arts.
My wife and I have had a dream brand that we’ve wanted to create since high school, which was dubbed “Diverse Hawaii.” It was a collective of the things we enjoyed at the time like art, fashion, skateboarding, surfing, music, etc. But since we got such a late start on the business end of our arts and crafts venture, the name itself and other variations of it were already out there. Since you can’t go wrong with using names in some form for a brand, we used my wife’s maiden name, “Young” and my last name, “Wright,” which is a crafter or builder and also means to work. I’ve always like the word “reverie” which means “daydream” and the only way to achieve your dreams is to work for them, which is where my last name, “Wright” comes in. A bit of a stretch, but we were absolutely stumped for names, especially with so many successful brands and artists out there, and it was the only name that fit. And of course, the fact that “young reverie” literally translates to “young dreams” helps, since that is exactly what this is about and what we are trying to fulfill. The “Arts” part was meant to pull it all together without getting ourselves stuck into one creative label or entity. Photography is just one facet of who we are and what we’re about. We also work on and dabble in other things like fashion, art, and creating short videos. The next thing we’re trying to bring to the forefront soon is a clothing line we have in mind.
Tell us about your career. How did you get into it?
When I was a kid and throughout high school, I used to draw what I was into at the time, which pretty much consisted of Marvel comics, graffiti, and street art. As I got older, that progressed into images I’d see in my head or scenes out in nature or on the street that I wanted to convey through my art. And a camera was one of those tools I always wanted to use to help me study still life – the way people move or the way mountains are shaded. I unfortunately never ended up getting a camera for myself during my doodling stages, but I believe the seed of photography was planted back then. I ultimately ended up being too frustrated with my lack of direction and skills for my art that I stopped. Ended up getting a GoPro a few years later for fun just trying to shoot waves at the local shorebreak, and that just snowballed from there. It’s gotten to the point to where I realized I didn’t want to just take pictures, I wanted to create art again. But this time, I would do it with a camera.
What types of photography do you do?
I actually have a horribly short attention span, so I try to do anything and everything I can. Portraits, landscapes, long exposures, light painting, wave photography – you name it and I can do it. Or, I will at least give it a go if I haven’t done it yet. I also try as much as possible to mix different styles into one image so that they feel surreal and full of life, yet relatable. My current favorite style has been portraits, simply for the fact that one look on your model can dramatically determine the feel of the final image. There’s an amazing depth to the human soul and the way our bodies and faces move and contort to express that inner feeling – it is fascinating.
What was the moment you decided to become a photographer?
The moment I realized that I missed creating something new and making art. Photography became the brush that helped me to get out the ideas and feelings that were trapped in my head.
What has been your biggest setback as a photographer?
The lack of finances that are necessary for gear or traveling to different places. Photography can be damn expensive. It’s ironic because I don’t own expensive things, nor do I need them to make me happy, and yet, photography is the most expensive art venture/hobby I’ve undergone. Just let me create art and be with my wife and daughter, family and friends, and I’m more than stoked. But being able to create art in my field requires money some of the time, so there’s the catch.
Photography is competitive. How do you stand out?
I’ve come to the realization a while back that the best way to be different is to just be yourself. It’s really tough to stand out in a field full of very talented people who have more skill or a better eye than I do. So I just try to convey my own feelings or thoughts and ideas through an image. And hopefully, someone, somewhere will connect with it.
What’s the best advice you can think of for someone just starting in photography?
Know who you are and what you want to accomplish as person, an artist and a photographer. Be respectful and learn from those veterans that have come before you. Try film before digital. Learn about the camera and how it works before you even use one and why pictures come out looking the way they do. I read up on how and why a camera works for almost a year before actually picking up a camera. Pass on what you learn so you can help others learn…we were all newbies at some point. Don’t just set out to capture images, but also try to discover impactful moments and embrace them. Have fun.
What is the best thing a model can do to make the most of a photoshoot?
Enjoy what you’re doing. Don’t think or stress too much and have fun. Try any and every pose or look you can think of. Yes, we’re the ones taking the photo and completing the final product, but we wouldn’t even get to that point if you weren’t there to collaborate with us in the first place. Your input and professional contributions are just as important as the work that we put in as well.
If you could photograph anyone in the world, who would it be?
There are quite a few scenarios that come to mind, but the one thing that absolutely stands out is having the opportunity to shoot my favorite band in the whole world, Incubus. Their music and ideas are a huge part of my life and one of a few reasons why my mind operates the way it does. They’ve influenced me as a person and artist – as much as people I have known my entire life have. And yet, I don’t know any of them personally, nor have I even met them. So to have the chance to photograph them in any setting, whether personally or while performing (or hopefully both one day!), would honestly be a dream come true.
Who do you want to give a shoutout to?
My super rad sponsors – Maui Jim sunglasses, Hayn slippers and Dafin swim fins. They always have my back and make sure I always have the freshest gear that I need. The crew at SPL Waterhousings for always taking good care of me and making the most trusted camera housings in the world. All my family and friends that have supported me since I started this whole journey. My wife for always helping me when I need a model or a hand at my shoots. All the Sandy beach boys, we had some great mornings during dawn patrol (you know who guys are). Everyone that I’ve shot with and still shoot with all the time – you guys and girls are the best, I’ve really learned a lot and still am learning. Thank you for all your guys’ tips and advice. All the friends I’ve used as models who have taken time out to help me by getting in front of the camera – thank you so much. I wouldn’t have even had some of my best images without you all. I want to list everyone above by name but there’s waaaaaayyyyyy too many specific people to thank in one interview. You know who you are; I love you all!
What’s your philosophy when it comes to being a great photographer?
There’s one little saying that popped in my head one day, and it’s constantly in the back of mind now, especially when I’m shooting. “Imagine inspiration, inspire imagination.’’
What’s a deal breaker for you when deciding to do a shoot?
If it’s a brand or company that I don’t see eye to eye with or don’t see myself supporting or using, then I politely decline. I believe in order to take good photos of a product or idea, you need to be on board with their views and values, or at least like the company to begin with. Shooting something you yourself can’t stand behind is a disservice to you and your client. Other than that, I’m usually up for anything and will try anything new. Oh, except for something involving big heights. No thanks, I’ll pass.
How do you bring out your model’s personality in a shoot?
I’m a really sarcastic person, and I love making people laugh, so I’ll usually try to crack jokes or do something stupid to make them happy. And hopefully, a little bit more comfortable with me. The more comfortable and relaxed they can be, the more I feel it’s easier for them to just be themselves and lay it all out there.
What’s the most inspiring photo you’ve ever seen?
Oh man, that’s a tough one. When I first started out shooting waves, there was one specific photo that always stood out in my head, and is still the standard for which I hold my water photography to. It’s a black and white wave photo that legendary surf photographer, Jon Mozo (rest in peace), shot back in the day called “The Spirits Within.” It is an absolutely haunting yet beautiful image. There are a ton more amazing and inspiring photos out there from such talented people. Especially from some of my really close friends like Zak Noyle, John Hook, Nolan Omura, and the rest of my really other good homies. I wish I could list all of them, but it would go on and on. They all inspire me everyday with their work. But, Jon Mozo’s photo is one big one that comes to mind.
What photography advice do you wish you had when you were first starting out?
To be quite honest, I’ve had the benefit of having really good friends and family like my dad who have helped me out and taught me so much. My dad actually used to shoot analog when he was younger, just as a hobby really. But he helped me to understand the importance of light and using film, and understanding how and why the camera functions the way it does. Also, my good friend and mentor, Zak Noyle, has been a huge help, not just with my shooting, but with understanding the business side of things as well. He’s really helped me grow a lot as a photographer. My crew and I are all a pretty tight knit group that try to help each other as much as possible, so there really hasn’t been a shortage of info around, thankfully.
What are 3 tips you have for aspiring photographers?
- Learn your camera inside and out, and how and why pictures are made.
- Try to be as creative as possible.
- Have a blast.
What kind of gear do you have?
My camera quiver is pretty minimal to be honest. I have a Canon 1D X body, and for lenses, I have the Canon 16-35 f4, 50 1.8 STM, and 85 1.8. For daytime long exposures, I use a bomb NDx1000 filter from Hoya and I have a crap load of props, lights, flashlights, smoke bombs, a prism, and whatever else I need to make things interesting. For the water, I always use SPL waterhousings to protect my camera/lens and DaFin body surfing fins to propel me through the surf. Those two companies are the best – I wouldn’t trust anything less. My favorite thing at the moment would for sure be my new 1D X body, simply for the fact that it’s opened up a new world of creativity.
What’s one lighting tip you’d like to share with other photographers?
Light is your friend. Use it in every and any way that you can think of.
What is your most life-changing event?
Growing up with a younger sister that has cerebral palsy was a big one. I’m the oldest of four, and I had to help my mom take care of her so much that she’s almost like another daughter to me. Seeing her really humbles me and makes me realize life is too short to think about what you don’t have, and to be grateful for what you do have. Another one would have to be the birth of our daughter, Rhapsody Aurora. She’s hilariously amazing.
What has photography done for you as a person? How has it changed you?
It’s really made me see things in a different light (pun intended). Photography has opened up my creative flow so much, it’s unreal. I feel like even more so than when I used to draw. And it’s really made me aware of all the magical things our life has to offer. Not to take any of it for granted.
What’s something no one knows about you that you’d like to share?
I actually have pretty bad anxiety issues. Shooting photos is one of the things that helps alleviate it, but some days, it’s tough to just walk into a Target.
Who’s your biggest hero in your life?
Enrique Iglesias (another punny one).
What’s one of your biggest fears?
Death and the moments leading up to it, and the possibility of not being able to see my daughter grow up because of it. Stupid death.
What will you be doing five years from now?
Hopefully, the same thing now, just on a bigger scale and hopefully enough so that I can make a living from it.
What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t?
Become a responsible adult.
For anyone that wants to get in touch with Kyle, here’s some contact information:
Kyle, thank you for sharing your story with us! 🙂
If any artists out there want to collaborate with FStop, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.