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Rising Stars: Meet John Hooper

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Hooper.

Hi John, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Photography has been an interest of mine for many years, but only in the last five years have I pursued it professionally. It all started with the birth of our first child and my desire to capture those daily moments of growth and discovery that families cherish. Intending to do it well, I had purchased a capable DSLR with an external flash and I started my own journey to understand the equipment and how to get the shots that I wanted. I absorbed a lot of information from books and the web. I practiced all of the time. Before long, my images were looking pretty strong and friends were asking me to photograph parties, dance recitals, prom and other activities. I was encouraged and continued to learn and also to purchase items that I hoped would make my work even better.

At the point of turning my hobby into a vocation, I had reached the realization that many people were interested in paying me for my talent. Around the same time, I also understood that photographing people at a high level required a substantial investment in the right equipment. Taking the next step and becoming a professional photographer made perfect sense. That was five years ago. Since that time, I have refined my focus from shooting almost any kind of session or event to now focusing on modeling portfolios and editorials, creative portraiture and headshots. What keeps the passion in my photography is shooting only the styles that I love and not trying to be everything to everyone. I never want this to feel like a job – I want to keep that sense of wonder and joy in every session. I have found my place in the big world of photography and I love sharing my time with the clients and collaborators who appreciate my style.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
My journey as a professional has encountered a few bumps and roadblocks along the way. One of the early challenges was understanding that there were very specific styles that fueled my passion and that trying to be good at every style was a recipe for frustration. My artistic style is expressed one-on-one. I enjoy the interactions, the sharing of ideas and energy, the close confidence of working with just a single subject. It took a while to realize that charting my own path was exactly what I should be doing as an artist. Letting go, saying no to jobs – those were a struggle in the first couple of years.

Another challenge for me is that in our part of the world, the editorials that I love so much don’t have as much value as they do in other, more metropolitan places. Agencies want lifestyle because that is what sells and I completely understand. Staying true to your heart and being commercially viable is always a balancing act. I will never walk away from my preferred styles, but I also am creative enough to find a place for them in local portfolios.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I shoot in my studio and on-location around the Triad of NC. I’m known for my studio-lighting skills and I mentor photographers on that subject. My specialties are modeling portfolio and editorial sets, creative portraiture and headshots of all types. I’m most proud of the reputation that I have built in the community – I’m known for creating a safe environment of support and encouragement, for consistently offering direction during shoots, for fairness in pricing, for thorough planning and communication, and for putting my client’s goals first. My integrity and reputation are an important part of why people reach out to me. It is almost always true that before a new client calls or messages, they have been in touch with others who have worked with me before. I’ve never had a review on any forum that wasn’t five stars.

Although I don’t feel compelled to talk about it usually, I’ve been published multiple times in magazines – Elegant, Flanelle, Rebel, First. That feels like a professional validation, but I’m more interested in how each client feels about the work that we do together. I like to think that what makes me different is my conception that each client is, for a time, my partner. I don’t like the word “transaction” when it comes to my clients but instead prefer to think of how I can help each of them move forward towards their goals. We are partners and together, we will take steps to move closer to where they want to be.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I don’t feel like luck has played much of a part in my success as a photographer. My story was written with trial and error, with dedication and drive, and whatever successes I have enjoyed have been earned. I do feel fortunate to have met some wonderful friends along the way – friends who offered advice and encouragement – and I am certainly thankful for those relationships.


  • Studio headshot sessions start at $100
  • Studio portfolio building sessions run from $150 – $300
  • Studio Digitals $80
  • Location work quoted by project
  • Creative work quoted by project

Contact Info:

  • Email:
  • Website:
  • Instagram: @decoroimages
  • Facebook: @decoroimages

Image Credits
Landreah Ward, Swathi Blum, Helen Textor, Julianne Herring, Sarah Boudreau, Gabriela Sixtos, Hannah Murdock, Gracie Brockman

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