One thing about Hawaii's only craft hotel? It's cool. As in dramatic underwater imagery welcoming guests up the 75-foot escalator tunnel, artisan craftworks, custom hotel soundtrack, Hawaii's most-Instagrammed coffeeshop kind of cool.
To create its unique aloha-meets-artisan vibe, the four-star Waikiki Beachcomber enlisted the help of a cadre of 12 artisans and creators—from muralists to "Hawaiian Grammy Award-winning" musicians to craft brewers—to not only create the overall aesthetic, but to capture the south shore spirit of Oahu's most iconic neighborhood.
One of these 12 tastemakers, dubbed the Beachcomber Originals, is photographer, creative director, surfer and entrepreneur, Matt Bauer.
Matt has played an integral role in the launch of Waikiki Beachcomber, creating #WaikikiVibes through his ultra-creative video and photography. Now the artist's latest works are first-up in a new art exhibition series in the hotel lobby.
We chatted with Matt a few months back about the inspiration for his surf photography (including how an old ski pole and some PVC pipe helped launch his first in-the-water surf shots), traveling in uncertain times, and how being in the water is his happy place.
"I never thought of [photography] as a possible career but more as a way to make moments live on," he told Outrigger. "Capturing photos and videos went hand in hand with building websites and using social media as each platform launched ... As these platforms grew, so did my fascination in meeting other like-minded creatives and making things that made an impact on others."
A decade or two on, Matt has indeed translated this passion for surf and photography into a career, traveling the world for brands and surf pros and capturing those moments in time. His latest works, a mix of collage photography and geometric shapes, reflect this same spirit through an abstract lens.
Snapshots in time are frozen and reframed, creating a sense of both momentum and calm. In a prism of chalky blues and muted whites, we catch glimpses of the ocean's power via the thoughtful crop of a wave before it breaks or the spray as it crashes. But the overall works exude a sort of subtlety and delicate beauty, belying the sheer magnitude of breaks like Pipeline on the North shore with some of the world's fiercest waves. The result is at once stirring and still-ing, a dreamscape of foam and flow—and a modern take on the strange magic that is surfing.