Chip Hooper is best known for his ongoing series of ocean photographs.
These seascapes are his most accomplished works to date, capturing
transient moments when light, water, and sky coalesce in transcendent
beauty. The first two bodies of work in the series, California’s
Pacific and New Zealand’s South Pacific & Tasman Sea have both been
exhibited and published. Hooper continues to seek out new oceans to
photograph, and in recent years has worked extensively in Iceland.
Chip Hooper was born in 1962 in Miami, Florida and was raised in the
suburbs of Chicago. In his seventh grade art class, he stepped into a
darkroom for the first time and immediately felt a strong affinity for
the process of making images. Soon after, he discovered a reproduction
of the iconic Ansel Adams photograph ‘Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico,
1941’. He was deeply moved by the sight of a wider and more beautiful
world than he had yet experienced, and was transfixed by the ability
of a single image to convey powerful emotions to the viewer. He began
photographing extensively and built himself a small darkroom in the
basement of his family’s home. He particularly enjoyed photographing
the watery expanse of Lake Michigan, experiencing a sense of
connection to his subject that he would rediscover years later. He
spent countless hours printing and assembling a portfolio of images
which he still keeps as a reminder of his early inspiration.
In 1988, at the age of 26, Hooper moved to California’s Monterey
Peninsula, settling in Carmel Valley. He found himself drawn strongly
to the ever-changing display of light on the waters of the Pacific
Ocean along the Big Sur coast. Hooper experienced once more the
profound sense of peace and connection – with himself and the world
around him – that he had glimpsed many years earlier.
Invigorated by his new choice of subject matter, Hooper also made
great strides in his technical skills as an artist. He began to work
exclusively with a large-format 8×10 inch view camera, and also
designed and built a studio on his property. He challenged himself to
achieve greater technical quality in his prints than those produced by
the master photographers of the twentieth century that preceded him.
Hooper began to envision his photographs of California’s Pacific as
the first chapter in a larger project. He has since made it his goal
to photograph every major sea and ocean in the world. Although
thousands of miles separate these bodies of water, Chip Hooper’s
photographs remind us that they all flow into one another – that they,
like us, are connected by the flow of time. In his images, the ever-
changing waters of the ocean reflect the deeper emotional states of
the human experience.
Hooper’s own words succinctly capture what photography means to him:
“the process of creating photographs is a contemplative one. It is an
exploration of my feelings as much as it is an exploration of what I
am seeing. The best images always happen when what I am feeling
becomes one with what I am seeing.”