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Volunteer Spotlight: Howard Wolff, photographer extraordinaire

Photo credit: Tracy Wright Corvo

If you follow us on social media, you have probably noticed the recent improvement in our visual content. Since July 2020, Howard Wolff has given his time and talent as a photographer to capture the work of Honolulu Habitat and the families we serve. His photographs are an authentic and inspiring portrayal of our mission to build homes, community and hope.

For this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, we asked Howard to share his journey as a photographer and why he loves volunteering for Habitat.

Tell us a little about your background; Who is Howard Wolff?

Educated and trained as an architect, I’ve had an interest in the visual arts and the built environment from an early age. I like to use my photography to tell stories that move people and lift their spirits.

Pre-Covid-19, I primarily did travel photography (42 countries and counting). Since I’ve been grounded, I’ve started a series called “Backyard Geographic” that allows me to feature subjects closer to home while exercising my photographic muscles.

How long have you been practicing photography? 

I can remember getting my first Kodak Instamatic camera when I was 12. “Practicing photography” is a good way to put it, because I’m always growing and learning as an artist.

Your portfolio is very diverse. What style of photography are you most passionate about? 

I particularly like capturing people engaged in THEIR passions in their milieu. No “Ready-1-2-3” or “Say Cheese!” I’m much more captivated by documenting what I see as it is happening than in having people stop what they are doing to pose for me.

What do you do when you’re not behind the camera? 

I still have a day job, which involves helping architects, designers and contractors build their businesses. When I’m not advising others (or creating photographs), I’m usually getting some form of exercise (Pilates, Feldenkrais, Tai Chi, water aerobics, pickleball, or riding bikes with my wife).

What inspired you to volunteer with Honolulu Habitat?

Number one: I believe in the mission of Habitat for Humanity and wanted to lend a hand. And, number two, this work is right in my sweet spot. I used to be a construction laborer in college to help pay for my education, and I love capturing the process of creating something from the ground up.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering as a photographer for HHH? 

It’s an honor to photograph the volunteers at HHH doing such noble work and to document the progress of their construction efforts over time.

For example, I was able to photograph the Piohia family in their old home and then document the demolition, the ground-blessing, and the construction of their new home. It’s also gratifying to be welcomed on site as if I were part of the ohana.

It has been a privilege to get to know some of the individuals and families whose lives have been impacted so positively and profoundly by the generosity of others.

I hope my photos give pleasure and meaning to the people featured in them … because that’s what the opportunity to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity gives to me. ∎

Enjoy this gallery of images Howard recently shot for Honolulu Habitat for Humanity

All images © 2021 Howard Wolff Photography

To view other fantastic portraits and fine-art travel photos, visit

Do you have a special talent, skillset or passion you’d like to contribute?

Contact today!

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