Seeking the Spirits and Memories of Hawaii on Medium Format Film

Taking a literal and figurative macro lens to rare landscapes to summon the memories held within

Seeking the Spirits and Memories of Hawaii on Medium Format Film


Brendan George Ko


Brendan George Ko


Mamiya 7, Mamiya RZ67


Kodak Portra 160


Brendan George Ko is an interdisciplinary artist living between Maui, Hawai’i and Toronto, Canada (both pictured below) and working primarily in photography, video, sound, installation, and oral tradition.

There is a spirit in the landscape that possesses us, and though we may leave the land behind that spirit will always follow. This is something I learned during my formative years living in rural New Mexico, through the stories we shared. From ancient times of the Navajo and Hopi people to a more modern era, of crime, miracles, unexplainable phenomena, and shapeshifting beasts that roam the high desert, there is an inseparable memory attached to the land.

As time passes these stories turn to myth. And though new memories occur and often replace the past, they add to the growing history indexical to the land.

It was during those years I experienced the power in oral tradition that gave the landscape its meaning and presence. Though I have long since left the desert of New Mexico, I carry the spirit of its storytelling and land-specific memory in my practice today.


For the past five years I have been gathering narrative and perspective of the landscape that is the Hawaiian archipelago. These stories range from the ecology of the islands to its myth and original culture, its history and politics. It has taken me on a journey that has completely changed the way I see and feel the landscape.

Before there was an image, now there are layers upon layers of memories that each come with their own spirits. The land feels haunted, and when I make the decision to capture it, it is the spirit I seek to invoke with its presentation.

Like the stories I heard countless times in Gallup, NM, it isn’t about truth, nor is it about accuracy, it is about carrying the spirit of the memory.




Brendan-George-Ko-Photo-5-surreal tourist


"My photographs aren’t about realism and precision, but manipulating the medium in order to summon the spirits captured within."





Related articles
Kodak Gold 120 Film Photo Essay: Exploring Maui by Van
Explore Stunning Maui Landscapes on All New Kodak Gold 120 Film

On Hawaii's second-largest island, two film photographers hit the road in a rented 1998 Dodge camper van to document a truly unique environment

A Year of Wandering in Unique Light, on Medium Format Film
21 Medium Format Photos Artfully Document a Year of Wandering

Hyper realistic plant portraits, surreal landscapes, and intimate encounters draw a visual line through time and place

How a Week in Kona Taught me the Raw Truth of IRONMAN
How I Came to Understand the Insanity of IRONMAN Triathlons

A first-timer’s raw experience as a spectator of the world’s biggest triathlon and what it taught him

IRONMAN World Championship Behind the Scenes
Photo Essay: Inside the IRONMAN World Championship

A raw and real look at the ultra-triathlon proving ground on Hawaii’s Big Island

San Francisco's Moon Collective
Brand Spotlight: Moon Collective

Finding inspiration in folklore and between the earth and stars

More articles
Seeking the Spirits and Memories of Hawaii on Medium Format Film

Gallery Mode


Brendan George Ko


Mamiya 7, Mamiya RZ67


Kodak Portra 160

Back to article
☮️ Welcome to Field Mag

Get the best new gear, dreamy cabins, and epic adventure photography delivered to your inbox each week with Field Mag newsletters

Click Here to Subscribe
☮️  Welcome to Field Mag