Sun Chasers: How this Hollywood set photographer moved to Hawaii to live his Moana dreams

Meet Duncan Morgan. Moving from idyllic midwestern farm town to SoCal, Duncan taught himself photography by venturing into nature and capturing that sense of awe on film. 

“I would take day trips to Yosemite and Joshua Tree and my favorite interaction with these epic locations was to capture it how I saw it,” Morgan puts it. 

For weathered locals like myself, to see Duncan’s photos is to understand what it must be like to visit Hawai’i for the first time. Good lord how stunning this earth is through Duncan’s lens. It started with austere mountains, and then Duncan found the ocean.

"I grew up as a competitive swimmer,” Morgan said, “with a huge ego regarding my swimming ability. The first time I jumped into 3 foot waves I was let's just say...humbled. That began a journey between me and the ocean. I was fascinated. I couldn't get enough.”

How good are Duncan’s photos? So good he was hired as a set photographer for a studio in Hollywood just a month after beginning his photography journey. After working in industry for years, Ducan finally pulled the plug and returned to his ku’uipo, his love at first sight -- the island of Oahu. So Duncan packed up, sang the Moana song about how the sea “calls me” in his head, reunited with his college roommate, and moved in with his roommate’s family in Waipio. 

What does Duncan do now? Lives his Hawai’i #bestlifeever of course. He surfs, he dives, he takes stunning photos of every ocean and mountain he can find.

“I spend at least an hour (sometimes 10) in the sun per day. I always use sunscreen on any skin that will be exposed to the sun.” Good man. Wear your sunscreen.

Moving here, Duncan is in the ocean photographing all day long. Reflecting on how his photos have evolved, Morgan laments, “What was once a thriving, living reef is now reduced to brown, dead coral...because there are still toxic chemicals being sold in large quantities at many stores.” Can I get an amen up in here?

What can we do? “Education,” Morgan says. That and for this sun chaser, “Reef safe sunscreen is the most obvious and one of the most impactful places to start.” 

Photo Credit Duncan Morgan - Instagram: @duncanmorganyo

A last tip from our sunchaser: “Always block your face! If you don't have a buddy to get your back, wear a t-shirt to surf or dive. Bonus tip: if you're worried about your hot tan, sunscreen doesn't keep you from getting darker!” 

(All photos credit of Duncan Morgan instagram @duncanmorganyo)

__

Lani & Kai Sun Chasers is a series on inspirationals who live their lives outside. Tell us about how you live outside, send us a note with the subject Sun Chasers to hello@laniandkai.com.

Leave a comment