Picture Perfect Kaua‘i
Owner, aFeinPhoto Gallery
Tell us about your business. I sell limited-edition fine art landscape photography. I also shoot the occasional wedding and portrait session. I just did a photo shoot at the St. Regis for its magazine, so I actually do everything, any kind of photography. I started shooting five years ago, but became a professional photographer two years ago. On May 1, I opened a new gallery in Hanalei.
Why do you do what you do? It was half loving the hobby and half wanting to show people what I see and what is around, especially with landscapes. There’s so much physical beauty everywhere, and the key is to open people’s eyes to what’s in front of them. A lot of people walk by or pass by the details. I want to show them a world that’s there that they’re not seeing.
Have you had any professional training? All self-taught from the mean streets of the worldwide interconnect.
Where are you from originally? I grew up on Long Island in New York.
What brought you to Kaua’i? I was living in Salt Lake (Utah) and I was there for three winters and, in doing so, met a chef who eventually opened up a restaurant in Princeville that no longer exists. He offered me a job, and so I came out here in 2007. I started shooting photography seriously in Salt Lake – shooting skiers – then came out here to work at the restaurant, and was working on my landscapes on the side.
What sets your business apart? The uniqueness of the images; the attention to detail. I mean, how many people have taken a picture of Hanalei pier? But have you ever seen the pier with the Milky Way over it? The idea is to show people something new. My work has a movement theme to it. I like to incorporate the fourth dimension: passage of time. So, if you’ll look at a lot of my work, you’ll see that the water is moving or the stars are moving or there is some sort of motion-dynamic sense of the image that gets brought to the viewer.
In addition, everything is perfect when it goes out to the customer. You always want to give the best service to the customers. The quality of the prints themselves, the detail that’s involved, the techniques that are used are of top quality. I also have international awards, like 2009’s Nature Photo of the Year from American Photo magazine, to show for it.
How has business been? I started my business two years ago during the worst economy in decades, so my baseline is very low for what to expect. But there’s always business, it’s a matter of finding your market and going after it.
Do you find that many visitors are interested in your Predominately, my customer base is visitors. I would love to have more of my work stay on island. I do offer a kama’aina discount of 10 percent.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? Finding time to shoot.
What’s the most reward-ng aspect of your business? Just finding that perfect piece for that person’s home that’s going to make them smile every time they look at it. Everyone, when they look at an image, has their own individual emotional reaction, and every person is different and is going to like something different.
So, finding that piece that they’re going to resonate with and be able to love and appreciate is rewarding.
What motivates you to get up and go to work? I’m my own boss, so I’m my own worst employee and my own best employee. I’m everything.
What is your business motto or philosophy? Expanding visual reality. I’m showing people beyond what they’ve seen.
How do you measure success? Being able to do what one loves. Not feeling like you’re working.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I would have a beer bar. aFeinPhoto Gallery is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is located next to Kalypso in Hanalei. www.afeinphoto.com 634-5804