HANAPEPE — When Lee Scott takes a photograph, he doesn’t intend to make money off of it. He’s more concerned with capturing the beauty of Kauai in a moment of time.
By doing just that, Scott won an award from the Audubon Community Nature Center’s Nature Photography Contest — first place for adult landscape.
“I was totally stoked. I always say that you never take a photograph just for a contest or to sell even, it’s about the experience of being out there,” he said. “But of course, it’s nice to be recognized. Photography is so hard.”
Entries for the contest were submitted from 21 states and eight foreign countries. Scott’s winning art piece was a print titled “Pop the Top,” capturing a wave breaking off the Na Pali Coast.
Despite not owning a camera until he entered college, Scott has been taking photographs for about 20 years. He’s only been working professionally for the past five.
“I studied in Glasgow, Scotland, for college, and I got a 35 millimeter from Canon, and I started just doing street and travel photography of things that just looked interesting,” he said.
He later moved to Japan and became a junior high school teacher, but his passion for photography never drifted.
“The school knew that I was kind of interested in photography, and they had an art festival,” Scott said. “The school asked if I could have some pictures there, so my first exhibition was in a junior high school science room. One of my students told me that I should’ve been a photographer. I guess I was a bad teacher, I don’t know.”
Shortly after teaching in Japan, Scott and his wife moved to Kauai, where he became a butler at The St. Regis Princeville Resort. But one day, as he walked on the sand at Hanalei Bay with his wife, he told her he had to make a change.
“I just told her that I wanted to be a photographer. She said ‘OK,’” he said.
Scott then began making prints of his photos. Soon, he was able to find a spot in Mercedes Maza’s gallery, Art and Soul, in Hanalei.
“I had a little corner there where I sold small prints,” he said. “Then I opened up a gallery in Kapaa for three years, then about two and a half years ago I opened up a shop in Hanapepe.”
That gallery is Light Source Photography by Lee Scott. But even though he is happy doing what he loves full-time, he doesn’t forget about the support he received from people who believed in him, especially his wife.
“She didn’t ask what we were going to do for money or tell me that there are already too many photographers,” he said. “She even said that from here on out, whenever someone asks you what you do for a living, you say that you’re a photographer. The more you say it, the more you believe it.”