Aaron Shintaku & Ryan Haack // Foxes & Wolves
We sit down with Aaron Shintaku and Ryan Haack, the creative duo behind Foxes & Wolves, a photography team based in Costa Mesa, CA.
Aaron Shintaku and Ryan Haack are involved with projects ranging from photography to event hosting, as they are one of the many components behind connectingthings.co, an organization linking hungry creatives with successful entrepreneurs in Southern California. Wolf Camp Studios is their current home: an office space, cocktail bar, artists lounge, and photography studio all located at the Eastern tip of Costa Mesa. As an esteemed photography team in the Orange County community, Aaron and Ryan find relationships to be key to their success. We interview them about collaboration, building connections, and owning their craft.
Tell us about the beginning of Foxes & Wolves.
Aaron: We started Foxes & Wolves a few years ago as Ryan and I started to shoot more commercial work. We had worked in the same office and decided to join forces. We wanted to bring something different to the commercial photography space.
What was your relationship prior to working together?
Aaron: We were just friends before this. We’ve been friends for about eight or ten years.
Ryan: We worked in the same office together down on 17th street [Costa Mesa]. At the time, we were shooting separately. It’s been really cool that we’ve stayed friends through this venture. We are both completely different people with different strengths and weaknesses. We compliment each other through those differences.
How has Foxes & Wolves evolved since it’s conception?
Aaron: We had a lot of ideas about what we wanted to be: a space for photographers, an agency, or if we were going to shoot video as well. We definitely explored a little bit. Brands looked to us for creative content, but would also ask for creative strategy. We played around in those areas of business, but at the end of the day, we realized that photography is what we do ― it’s what we specialize in and focus on. We’ve evolved in the type of clientele we work with, but that’s natural as our business grows.
Could you explain the connection between Foxes & Wolves to Wolf Camp Studios?
Aaron: Foxes & Wolves is our photography company. Wolf Camp Studios contains our offices. It’s also a studio that is available to rent for other photographers. It’s primarily for our work, but when we’re not using our time here we open the studio to other photographers.
What are your roles in the Connecting Things community?
Ryan: Connecting Things started through friends of ours in Costa Mesa. We began as a handful of creatives that gathered around coffee and doughnuts in the morning. We would share ideas and help each other grow through the different places we were at in business. As people would show up, conversation grew into more invitations and it’s been growing ever since. Connecting Things was a way of meeting to talk about business with entrepreneurs from around the area, but it’s grown into something so much greater.
Did the name come easily?
Aaron: It actually comes from a Steve Jobs quote ― “Creativity is just connecting things.”
Do you have any memorable take aways from the events you’ve hosted in the community?
Aaron: I think the coolest thing has been the response towards Connecting Things. We began realizing that people actually gain from the gatherings. It makes a difference in peoples’ work just by coming together to be inspired. Working as creatives, it’s so easy to burnout or get stuck in your head. Sometimes, just hearing someone elses story can be be a breath of fresh air.
Ryan: My house has a very “open door policy.” We’re always throwing barbecues. We try creating a space for people to catch up ― a place for people to see old friends and hangout. Today, it’s so easy to catch up with someone through social media. You rarely pick up the phone to chat. Gaining that facetime and personal interaction is key. We try to create the same environment here, at Wolf Camp. We want to create a place for people to come together and grow as a community. At the end of the day, we host and we serve people. From the events and dinners I host at home, to Wolf Camp and Connecting Things. We open up a whole new environment for people to gather. It’s a whole team of us that share that vision. Seeing it come to life is pretty neat.
How have you grown in the community of creatives you surround yourselves with?
Aaron: I personally love talking with other creatives about their story; their journey. It’s easy to look at creatives and just think of their talent and success through social media and public perception. When you actually talk to a creative, you learn what they went through to earn that success ― you learn about the failures that occurred before their success. It’s encouraging to hear someone else’s story. Also, to see other creatives do amazing work is totally inspirational.
Ryan: When you have the opportunity to work with the other creatives around you ― to be able to join forces and collaborate on projects ― it’s really cool. The stuff we get to do with Sean Woolsey has been so fun. He's brilliant! I think getting inspired by what others do really fuels us.
What advice would you give to those who seek greater involvement in the community?
Aaron: Show up; that’s it. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to show up to a Connecting Things meetup or a social gathering. Just show up and introduce yourself to someone ― try to meet someone. I guarantee someone there will be happy to meet you.
Ryan: Whether you’re a baker, designer, artist or photographer ― wherever you're at, own what you do and what you're passionate about ― stand up for it. When someone asks what you do, be confident in your response. It will speak so much louder to the people you meet.
Foxes & Wolves work:
Wolf Camp Studios
2950 Airway Ave STE C-1
Costa Mesa, CA 92626