Name: Kohjiro Kinno
Hometown: Fountain Valley, California
What is your background in photography?
Darkroom in my room, blasted through rolls and rolls of film, and sheets of Polaroids. I’ve studied every type of photography, journalism, fine art, etc. And the history of photography, too. My college library had 15 or so years worth of old magazines from Sports Illustrated, Vanity Fair, Vogue, and a huge collection of National Geographic. Every art book they had, I just sat there for hours each day flipping through them: Avedon, Penn, to current masters, Sugimoto, to artists I like, Rothko, Twombly, and Klimt. I have a wide interest in all the arts, not only photography. I assisted photographers while in school and assisted another 10 years or so after school before striking out on my own. Where everyone with a phone is now a photographer, I’m glad I started in the film days and had the privilege to flip through the print magazines in college and to assist various film photographers to learn the craft in the proper way. I don’t miss labeling each roll of 120 after being the only assistant during a three-day, 15-hour-day fashion shoot for a Japanese photographer/fashion brand in LA with only one back, with a light meter and color meter around my neck and two fanny packs of film with a sharpie in my mouth and a bounce card and getting $200 cash at the end of the shoot. I wanted to punch the guy.
And your current job?
Currently, I'm a freelance photographer shooting mainly editorial sports-related events, stories, and portraits.
How many golf tournaments do you shoot a year?
Every year varies, but in 2015 I shot nine tournaments, including the Masters and US Open near Seattle and the Presidents Cup in Incheon, South Korea.
What was the coolest tournament moment you ever got to shoot?
The 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods’ last major. Shot from the Snoopy blimp all day. One Gatorade bottle. Also my first Olympics in 2004 in Athens, Greece.
What other events have you done?
A lot of different things, but the most fun and best event recently was the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles that were held in the summer of 2015. Smiles by everyone having a great time.
How long have you been surfing? 15 years
How in the world did you ever start waking up at the crack of dawn to shoot your water shots?
I’ve always liked to surf early in the day before the crowds. That and especially the wind. It's something I noticed when paddling around and got some various water cameras to experiment before getting a proper housing for my hires DSLR. Out of thousands of tries, I have approximately 300+ images in this current series I’ve been working on since 2012.
What does your perfect day look like?
Head out an hour before sunrise, slight offshore, 2-3 feet, glassy, slow rights, nobody out, warm, and sunny. Water: 75. Surf all day, snap some pics, head home, and call it a day.
When do you know if a photo is “the one?” It’s very rare, but when you know, you know.
Be sure to see more of Kojo's amazing work on his website. Disclaimer: Images above featuring Kojo are by Geoff Cunningham.