Royal Spotlight // David Hwang

Royal Spotlight // David Hwang

How Did I Get Here: 19 year-old Complex Photographer


David Hwang

Hometown: Irvine, CA

Age: 19

Occupation: Photographer for Complex Magazine


The Panasonic recorder in 5th grade… At the tender age of 10, David put his first Panasonic camera in his hands and started recording. Just little things at first. Short skits and parodies with friends were his favorite at the time. That is until Lost came across his television screen on night. He was captivated by the story line and was ready to develop a similar shot on his own. Recreating a plane crash using fake props as a 5th grader is no easy feat, but David found a way. It was then that a hobby became a passion.

OCSA… Orange County School of the Arts is where his passion began to flourish. The school is dedicated to providing a platform for young creatives that want to take their skills to the next level. This is where David spent most of his time honing in on his craft and working with high-quality cameras for the first time. He credits OCSA for much of his improvement, “trusting me as a young teen with those type of cameras gave me the chance to see if I could really make this a profession.” Becoming a student of the game, David networked, developed a skillset and broadened his creative outreach to heights he never imagined.

Being Inspired… On a daily basis you can find inspiration from the comforts of your own home. This is where some of the greatest original thoughts have been found and David has exemplified that. However, he still finds time to study industry leaders such as Nabil Elderkin (photographer to the stars), Stanley Kubrick (legendary filmmaker, screenwriter, director and cinematographer) and Virgil Abloh (creative designer). People that he describes as “genius” in the creative realm, that inspire his mind to go further than he originally thought possible. “People like Kubrick and Abloh give me the confidence to think outside the box and pursue the unimaginable.” David dreams of working with Kendrick Lamar, making a unique Western film that accurately depicts the era (unlike the current Hollywood remakes), and diving into sci-fi movies that will predict the future. Previous generations may have called David a daydreamer, but pioneers have shown him that these ideas can become a reality. His mission is to do the same one day for you.Future is in the youth… The millennials catch a lot of flack for their inability to listen, work hard or remain consistent. What they do not receive is enough credit for their creativity, innovation and ability to adapt on the fly. David believes the future resides in the hands of not only his generation but the one behind him as well. With the ability to create and publish entirely on your own, the gatekeepers are becoming more and more obsolete. Instead, programs like OCSA will continue to produce the game changers that will revolutionize the industry. David hopes to donate $30,000 to OSCA or a school like it in the future to help these kids find their way. If you are enrolled in one of these schools, don't get your hopes up. According to David, it is going to take more than some fancy cameras and a good school to reach his level of success.




Put your 10,000 hours in“Keep a camera in your a hand!” Seems pretty simple right? “That is what you need to do beyond anything else, shoot every single day of your life and you will get better by default.” Of course attending a good program or having a mentor with help guide your efforts, but it will mean nothing without hard work. Do not worry about your camera because the best camera available... is the one in your hand. Put in the necessary 10,000 hours if you truly want to be great and the opportunities to be successful will find you.

Quotes from David

What philosophy drives you? - “Being’s corny but you will never be happy with yourself if you are trying to fit into a mold or be someone else. It’s tough trying to be yourself and trying to conform into societies box. Just be you and you will fall into place.”

What equipment do I need to start? - “Adobe Suite is great for editing but the best camera you have is the one you are shooting with, take stills of the moments around you and put in your 10,000 hours.”

Advice to young photographers - “Shoot everyday of your life and always have a camera on you.”



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