Fashion photographer and Waanyi-Ngadjon man Rob Hookey has always been bursting at the seams with creativity.

Born on Kalkadoon land (Mount Isa) before moving to Charters Towers and Townsville, Hookey spent his childhood looking for new and exciting things.

Despite growing up rurally, Hookey said he always knew he was a city kid who loved the arts.

“I was always like you know, I’m not cut out for this,” he said.

“I was always wanting something really really exciting and I was always looking for something really creative.

Rob Hookey for the Iconic. Photo credit: Rob Hookey

“People were always really surprised, I remember the first time I played the piano at church the pastor walked in and was like ‘oh my gosh you can play the piano’.”

As he got older, Hookey found himself drawn to the arts by finding new ways to be creative.

Now a fashion photographer for brands such as the Iconic, IMG models and Camilla with Love, Hookey credits his grandmother as the person who unknowingly led him to the fashion world.

“We were very close with my grandmother who was from Murray Island…and she always had Woman’s Day magazines and she would collect all of them,” Hookey said.

“And at the start of each Woman’s Day magazine there’s always a fashion section and they’ve always have photos of people at an event like the Grammys or the Oscars.

“And I’d be going through the photos and looking at how it’s been styled, the orientation of the photo, the cut of the dress and I think unconsciously that set me up for what I do now and what I love now, which is a lot of editorial.”

Despite his love for creativity, it would only be in 2016 when he first picked up a DSLR camera Hookey said.

“Before that I was just trying to take photos on my iPhone,” he said.

“I was taking nature photos of landscapes and then started taking photos of portraits and was like ‘hey this is actually pretty cool’.

“I’ve got a knack for fashion and I enjoy fashion, especially men’s fashion and I like keeping up with the latest trends…that’s when I started working with agencies.”

Hookey said entering the fashion world during the height of Black Lives Matter meant there were more doors were opening for people of colour, but it made him question his talent.

“I feel lucky because I came in after Black Lives Matter, so it’s trendy to have someone Indigenous or someone of colour on your team or to do a campaign,” he said.

“And for me, that just made me really second guess my work and second guess myself you know I would be thinking to myself when I got my first big campaign, am I doing this because they want me there for my skill or because they need a Blak photographer on their team?

“I would rather not get the job and know I need to work harder at my skillset in order to get to that sort of level.”

In the five years since he became a photographer Hookey said there are already plenty more pathways for Indigenous creatives to make it in the fashion industry.

“Initiatives like Nathan McGuire’s Mob in Fashion, oh my God genius, because that’s people coming into the industry and learning on the spot and then being able to get paid for it,” Hookey said.

“There’s so much in the industry right now, not just for Black photographers, but there’s always a certain amount of free work you have to do to be able to make yourself known.

“I think a massive added benefit with Mob in Fashion is you can come learn and grow and then get paid to do that.”

Although he’s already made a name for himself, Hookey said his Indigenous culture and Country kept him motivated to improve his craft.

“My culture and everything that I represent as an Indigenous man and as a Waanyi-Ngadjon man from North Queensland is very, very special especially for my family,” he said.

“First and foremost it’s about the art and it’s about having that really high standard that I get from my grandmother to execute something with ambition.

“As a photographer, I always want to do something that’s original and I want to do something that hasn’t been done.”