Capturing Special Moments

Scott Hanft in his gallery in Poipu. Coco Zickos photo

By Scott Hanft
Scott Hanft Photography

Tell us about your business.

I own a gallery/retail store located at Kukuilula Village in Poipu that sells a combination of my photography and my wife Maggie’s jewelry. My artwork is the main product and is a collection of Kaua’i photographs shot from every angle I could dream of – underwater, from boats, from aircraft, from hiking all over the island. It’s done in a real artistic way. I try to capture rare moments, which has been one of my themes.

How did you get started in this business?

My dad was a school-teacher and my mom worked at a big art school called CalArts in California. So I grew up with two parents in education and that helped me steer towards doing this because I received a degree in fine art photography at my mom’s school. Prior to CalArts, I had my first print sale at Moorpark Junior College. That planted the seed for this. Here I am 30 years later.

Why did you move to Kaua’i from California?

When I was 17 I went on a surf trip to Oahu. I was really into surfing at the time and fell in love with the Island. When I graduated from college, my best friend moved to Kaua’i. I asked my friend if there was any work here and he said there was a huge, booming boat industry on the North Shore and I could work on one of the tour boats. So there wasn’t too much thought, I was there.

Hanft captured many images while working on a boat

How did you accumulate your current collection?

I worked for a boat company for 10 years, but the whole time I was dreaming of having my own gallery and selling my work. So when I was on the boats, I started shooting and building up a collection of work. I started collecting rare moments on the tours – whales jumping, dolphins and sharks, manta rays and the Na Pali Coast.

What sets your business apart?

It’s like this lifelong photography project is the way I like to think about it. It’s not just snapshots, it’s more like a documentary show. I’ve seen some amazing sights. And spending all this time on the water and touring all over Kauai, I’ve had these amazing experiences. I bring the camera almost everywhere I go, so those amazing experiences were not missed. Also my training and background in photography sets my business apart.

Why do you do what you do?

I knew I wanted to be an artist of some type probably because I was influenced growing up with my parents, who were both really artistic.

What motivates you to get up and go to work every morning?

Looking forward to making prints. Each time I make a print I can work on improving it and making it a little better each time. I love printmaking and creating the work. I also never get tired of getting compliments from the customers when they enjoy what I’ve done, so that’s always a good feeling. So just the reward of it all.

Hanft has an eye for beauty from sea to mountains. Coco Zickos photos

Do you have a motto or philosophy for doing business?

My whole thing is always to have fun. Once it’s not fun anymore, it’s time to do something else.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your business?

The accounting, because I’m a horrible mathematician, that’s why I became an artist. That’s my biggest Achilles heel.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business?

The feeling I get when I make a big sale with a client who loves my work and when they come back for more later. I never really thought when I was younger that I would get to this level, and now I’m finally here and it’s pretty eye opening. It’s a good feeling to reach that level.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to hire people to run my gallery so I can go out in the field and shoot as much as I can because I’ve got some great ideas for what I can do next.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

I would be a rock star. Open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week.

2829 Ala Kalanikauamaka 742-9515