[box]Water…Light…We think about them infrequently at best. Maybe when the power goes out and we’re thirsty or when we are fortunate enough to behold a marvelous sunset that bathes the ocean or the city skyscrapers after a rain in such a lovely bevy of colors it is impossible to overlook the splendor of the sun.
Now think of the way you first saw the water and the light through the eyes of someone who taught you to really truly look and see the magic in the world around you. That teacher is your mentor, someone who figures out how to really truly see and in doing so makes your path clear. We’ve found a mentor for you today and we’re so excited to present a mentoring interview with Jeff Hornbaker.
Jeff Hornbaker is a gifted photographer who’s been traveling the world for 35+ years perfecting his art. His talent for capturing images of the world can teach you how to look in such a magnificent, new and unfathomable way that you will swear after that he MENTORED you to see the best of what the earth has to offer.
Happy Earth Day, Readers
-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation[/box]
Hi Jeff, thanks for joining Over My Shoulder Foundation this morning to talk about your life, your art and your ideas about mentoring. It seemed that surfing was the first key that opened up the door for your photography to become your career. Can you tell us a little bit about your life as it relates to surfing?
I started to surf when I was thirteen years old. The feeling of movement by the ocean was one that I had never felt before, it didn’t come from gravity, where you are descending down a hill, it was more like a glide, a slide, free with no resistance. I guess when you are thirteen it is all about the fun but little did I know at the time it was really all about my life. Since that time my work, my relationships and my life’s lessons have all been an extension of my involvement with water. I would encourage everyone to feel the energy of a wave, you don’t have to have a surfboard to start, just let the water move you around. There is not another feeling like it.
You urge your audience to “Look Within” and hope to inspire that introspection with your photography. Do you think that this advice is beneficial to all people at all stages of life, in all career paths and avocations?
I actually am not intending to give anyone advice, that would be assuming I definitely know something.
When we think of the term ‘Look’, it is usually at something or someone beyond ourselves. It is a reflection of light hitting an object, or light emanating from an object. But if we see ourselves as that reflection to others, then there is something significant to learn within ourselves. You don’t always have to look out the window on a snowy morning to feel the warmth of the sun within your body. Does this make any sense?
That makes so much sense to us, Jeff, especially after seeing your film Globus. It’s called a “gift from the heart” on the cover. At Over My Shoulder Foundation we believe that when an individual is truly involved in the process of Mentorology (the art and science of mentoring) that they do actually offer a bit of their heart, as well as their mind, into the relationship.
With the gift of mentoring we see an offering from the mentor to the mentee, a gateway into the path of their craft, their trade, their art. When did the idea of this film as your ‘heart gift’ come about? And, who is the gift for?
‘Globus the meaning of light ‘ is a gift from the heart. The heart of mother earth, the heart of mother ocean, and the one heart that is the source of all life.
The film came about serendipitously simply from the observations of the beauty of this world, and all things in it. All life is pretty much magic if you take the time to actually watch it unfold before you. My craft is documenting what I see in a somewhat simple manner through moving or still images.
The offering you speak of is really sharing the truth and beauty of what we experience with others if they wish to view it. The element that I would add that may separate Globus apart from most modern day films is that the only intention underlying its coming to be was to create a visual celebration of life in all forms expressed through the power of sound and vision. It was an honor to be involved in this process, it was a gift by default to me, I would hope others see it as a gift as well.
By referencing quotes from great thinkers and mystics such as Chief Seattle and Hermes Trismegistes in Globus, you make it clear that influences from the past impact your life and your work. At the risk of sounding trite, can you share a favorite quote that has mentored you in your path to greatness?
There are many words of wisdom that have transcended through the ages by mystics, sages and wise men.
For every written quote there are probably thousands of profound thoughts that went undocumented. The thing is, we all have the power of the wisdom of the ancients within us. Some of the most honest words come from the mouth of a child. To answer your question though, whenever I become so consumed or overwhelmed with ‘stuff ‘ in my head and try to plan the future, I think of John Lennon’s quote…”Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”… Then there is the ultimate quote that could set you free but is most difficult to grasp…”Love is all there is”.”
Jeff, you also do commercial photography. While you are still practicing your craft, we can’t help but think that this aspect of your work is not so much a labor of love, but a labor for bread. Are you able to bring the same passion you channeled for Globus into your commercial photography work?
I have been blessed with working in the elements of nature for my entire life. It was a decision that was probably brought on at first by a selfish drive to indulge in surf, sun, new cultures, travel and more.
My work has never been a ‘labor’ of anything. If what you do seems to be effortless, I find it usually means you are doing what you are meant to be. Sure, bags are heavy, hikes are long, and you may work long beyond what you have to, but that is all choice, it is your passion.
What I do find difficult more nowadays in the commercial realm is to find like minds in a community that have a desire to create a message, a product etc. that is beyond the dynamic of pure profit or self- recognition. I am sure there are those of you out there, it’s just that sometimes I feel a bit alien for not wanting to twitter or facebook everything or for that matter… anything I do. I believe in a world where actions speak louder than words.
We heard a rumor that your grandmother’s love for photography inspired you in the beginning of your journey. Can you tell us about that?
My parents took our family along with my grandparents to Hawaii when I was eleven, it was the first time my grandfather had ever been on an airplane. Coming from a humble background, and one of the most appreciative people I have ever met, my grandmother had one expense she would allow herself…. box brownie film. My father, knowing how much she loved taking pictures said when we got our car from the airport “Jessie, whenever you want to take a picture…just holler and we will stop.” I think that we went about fifteen miles down the road the first day!
Now, for me who has absolutely no photographic training or expertise…I can’t fully experience the loveliness of a moment or a vista if I am looking at it through a lens. Are there times when you still experience that raw beauty without your camera? Or, do you say to yourself, ‘Gosh, I wish I had my lens’?
It now depends on the subject matter. If what I am experiencing is something I am familiar with, I will wait for the defining moment to become involved visually. However, if something is totally new to me, a challenge ensues and I go straight into exploring with a film or still camera and the deeper I go the more I become involved with what I am focused on. This way of interacting is kind of an extension of my senses, almost like sending a hunting dog out in front of you to find what you are searching for.
Do you have any final words of mentoring advice you’d like to share with us?
Again, I do not consider myself to know anything more than the next person who has lived a life rich with experience and blessings. I do, however, hope that my work emanates a sense of appreciation, of reverence, of wonder and peace reflecting how beautiful life truly is. If ‘one ‘ could be always present, to see the magic in every living thing and let life serendipitously unfold her beauty before us, and witness this in every moment … the positive force created could not help but flow outwards to others.
We want to make sure our readers know about another positive force that Jeff is creating. He co-founded Water Rights with Virginie Miramon. Last year Jeff and Virginie established Water Rights as a stock photo agency focusing on images of water. Besides curating photographic collections, helping art buyers find images right away and making their search easier, Water Rights hopes to raise awareness about the importance of water in our daily rights. Jeff, thank you so much for the work you do and for sharing your time with us today.
I should thank you in return. Your organization is the one devoting your time to enrich and inspire the minds of others.