We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Hooper and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
Being out in nature and the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places here in Arizona from Southern Arizona grasslands to 9000 ft mountaintops. With wetlands and deserts in between. The wildlife and the quiet from exploring and finding new places is so rewarding. When you find a new place to use in your photography its like winning the lottery when all the settings work in your favor.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Thank you! Photography is my art, and I enjoy looking for new and unique ways to show things off from my perspective. I follow a lot of photographers and enjoy seeing their work, but it also inspires me to try new things. I would never intentionally copy another artist but will try similar shots with a different lens and settings, from a little different point of view, to make it my own. With there being so many talented photographers in Southern Arizona sometimes it is difficult to find a new spot. Photos of places like Empire Ranch, San Xavier Mission, Saguaro National Monument and Tucson Mountain Park are very common, but I have been able to take some amazing shots in those places that are unique and haven’t been seen before. Every time I go out, I learn something new, so I feel like I’m always training myself to be better. When I take a picture, my goal is to make it better than the last. I’m not big on editing photos and changing what I’ve taken. I like to take the right picture, not make the right picture, so most of what you’ll see from me is a raw photo. I want those who follow me to see exactly what I saw through my lens. Sometimes that doesn’t work out exactly like I hoped, but when it doesn’t that just makes me try something different next time. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and excited to see what else I can learn.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Road trip! Southern Arizona has so many opportunities, in every direction.
South of Tucson we could visit historic and picturesque San Xavier Del Bac, then drive further south to Madera Canyon, in the Santa Rita Mountains (known as the “Sky Islands”) for bird watching. Then on to Arivaca, where we would pass through parts of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge and the further south into the old ghost town of Ruby, near the border of Mexico.
East of Tucson we could drive through Redington Pass, between the Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains. The switchbacks take you from desert to high desert grasslands, then down into farmlands near the San Pedro River. Then you get to a fork in the road that either takes you north, up through Oracle and Catalina back into Oro Valley and Tucson. Or you could go south and end up in Cascabel, then Benson. Either of these routes will take you through beautiful landscapes with the potential of seeing wildlife.
No trip to Southern Arizona would be complete without a visit to Sonoita-Elgin. It is commonly known as wine country for us, with many vineyards and wine tasting opportunities. The sweeping hills and grasslands are beautiful, anytime of year, and you’re almost certain to see at least one antelope roaming in the area. This is one of my favorite places to visit. My wife and I got married in Sonoita and one day hope to live there.
I’m a big supporter of buying local, so chain restaurants are something my family and I avoid. Some favorite restaurants would be Daisy Mae’s Steakhouse, Barrio Brewing, Micha’s, Ten55 Brewing, Casa Valencia, Copper Brothel Brewery, Seis Kitchen, Fire Truck Brewing, Tania’s. We are blessed with so many amazing food options in Tucson and Southern Arizona!
If you can’t tell from some of the restaurant options, I’m also a big fan of breweries, so a mini brewery tour is a must for anyone visiting from out of town. My favorite brewery in Tucson is Moto Sonora, they have such a fun and relaxing atmosphere, plus really great beer. Borderlands, Dragoon, 1912, Copper Mine and Copper Hop (in Sonoita) are also wonderful places to hangout, have a few good beers and meet new people.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have quite a few shoot outs. My amazing wife, Nichole, has been my number one fan and without her none of this would be possible. She is constantly challenging me with different ideas or even just pushing me to keep trying when something isn’t working just right. My friends and family encourage and support me all the time. Many of my memorable photo shoots have been because a family member has given me an opportunity I wouldn’t have normally had, like shooting for a pro baseball team, and randomly having a photo shoot with a celebrity because of it, to getting a media pass for a college football bowl game and being on the sidelines to photograph there. My dear friend (bestie), Kathy came up with the name “Through the Hoop,” so big shootout to her! I thank everyone in my life for their love and support and I can’t wait to see where this journey continues to take us all.
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