Mari and Alec

Mari was a referral from my friend Fumi who I also shot a wedding for.  It was another one of those perfect Hawaiian days where the sun was out.  They had their very small ceremony up at Chinaman’s Hat.  It’s a big park overlooking…you guessed it, Chinaman’s Hat.

 This was right around I got my Holga.  A 120mm medium format toy camera.  I fell in love with using the Holga especially after seeing the gorgeous photo it captured of Mari.  Soon after this I started using the Holga at other wedding as well.  Recently at Nikki and Rhey’s wedding I picked up a polaroid camera.  It’s okay to be a little artistic while shooting a wedding.  I had also bought a wide angel lens, and upgraded my camera to a Canon 50D.  I lovingly call her Bertha.

The wedding was a laid back classic Hawaiian wedding.  Kumu and all.  I remember sitting in the car shortly after the shoot uploading my photos directly to give to the bride.  It was some sort of arrangement that I had with her.  Then I took my originals back and started photo editing.  The real surprise was when I got the film processed and came up with this image.  It certainly was a great time to start to play around with toy camera’s while finding a way to incorporate them into weddings.  It was also a way to introduce new brides to a unique way to capture their moments.  The only problem was that you can’t control film, sadly this is the best one that ever came out.

 

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Charisse and Victor

I finally decided to hit the wedding expo in either 2010 or 2011.  I went there with my friend Jill with a little stool, and a bunch of brochures to pass out.  The owner of the bridal expo felt so bad for us that they gave us a real table the next day.  I felt completely naked compared to the other photographers with flashy screens, gorgeous backdrops, and high tech marketing to bring in the highest paying brides and grooms.  Actually, it turned out to be the best idea to go, because I was able to take on a couple of new clients.  My policy since then is that no bride and groom should go broke to have wedding photos for their special day.  It also turns out that I made friends along the way.

Charisse and Victor commissioned me to photograph their engagement shoot, their wedding, along with their newborn baby shoot.  They’re the first real clients that I had.  The tension mounted for me when I realized that I was expected to be a professional, and not just an amateur.  I had contracts signed and shot lists prepared.  All of the sudden it wasn’t just the bride and groom in the limelight, but also yours truly.

The wedding was held at a small chapel and intimate setting on the beach.  I was finally ready to start photographing the real deal.  While I was certainly terrified, I was also excited to finally prove to myself that I could do this.  I could finally become what I always wanted to be…a photographer.  It wasn’t National Geographic.  It was better.  I was making memories for young couples ready to take the leap into a new life with each other.

Charisse has a sparkle in her eye that shines through the camera.  While she was nervous she photographed beautifully.  Her radiance from her pregnancy also penetrated the lens which made the day even easier to capture.  When all was said and done with the photos edited, I felt proud of the work that I had done.  While some photos still didn’t come out the way that I wanted to, I knew that I had broken some new ground.  I had finally arrived.  I was a photographer.

 

 

Girlie and Rommel

My co-worker asked me (several times over the years now) to shoot some photos of a couple from her church that was getting married.  This was wedding #2, and again I felt out of my element.  I can’t remember if I shot it for free, or if it was a very cheap rate.  It turned out to be a 12 hour day.  By the time I got home, I crashed on the couch for 24 hours.  Though like every photographer, I couldn’t wait to hop on the computer and start the editing process.

While I wasn’t thrilled with all of the photos that I took, I was happy to see some very lovely shots that came out.  I didn’t know the bride and groom, and had never met them before however, they took me in and treated me like family.

I started in the hotel room where Girlie was getting ready, then moved to the church for a very lovely ceremony.  Just like every wedding, I had no idea what to expect.  Because of my lack of experience, I was pushed aside several times by a woman who was shooting right next to me with her point and shoot.  I remember feeling very uncomfortable, and thought to myself “Maybe I should hang up my camera”.  What I didn’t realize is that I was able to bring joy yet once again to a happy couple that just wanted to some photographs to look back on when they get older.

I think it’s beautiful to think about my own wedding and how I love to look back on that magical day.  Even though I never really like our own wedding photographs (probably because I’m extremely awkward in front of the lens) they are moments thought that were captured on our special day.  Wedding are days to remember.  Isn’t it nice to have someone there to capture the love of one another?

Fumi and Mike

I met Fumi when my husband and I started getting into rock climbing.  Her fiancé (now husband) owned the local rock climbing store, Climb Aloha.  Sky and I frequently visited them up at their house to buy our gear.  One day I was surprised when she begged me to photograph their wedding.  I kept declining as I wanted her special day to be photographed by a professional.

She’s persistent though, and soon enough I agreed to shoot their wedding for free.  It was my first wedding, and I was an amateur photographer who at the time was only photographing flora and fauna.  The whole idea of photographing a wedding was intimidating.  I had NO idea what I was doing, and felt that I was way over my head.  Looking back on the wedding photos I see so many mistakes (like shooting mostly in Sepia).  They had hired another photographer too (I insisted on being the backup only).

It was soon apparent how pleased Fumi was with the photos.  I was stunned at the time, and I really hated them.  Again though, the bride’s special day is special to her, and having the right photos from their special day was enough to warrant me the courage to tackle more weddings.  The weddings came, and then my style.  By my third wedding I was able to see some of the results that I was looking for.  Thanks to Fumi for giving me the courage to push me out of my comfort zone, and giving me the courage I needed to keep photographing weddings.  It turns out that these photos are some of my favorite.

Fumi and I continued to shoot together.  The next photoshoot was her maternity photos (also very amateur) of her first born, then her other three boys.  Which reminds me, I should check in and say “hi” to my friend.  It’s been way too long.

Kristin and Matt

My brother-in-law Matt brought his new wife to Hawai`i for their honeymoon.  We had so much fun, that I offered to shoot honeymoon photos of them around the island.  My husband, Matt, Kristin, and myself hopped into my Jetta for a day around the island.  It was supposed to be a time just showing them the beautiful ‘aina (land) where we live.  It was surely that, but also a day that they still love to revisit with their photos.  I have to be honest here.  I’m not that great of a photographer – novice at best compared to most – but this is one of the days were everything was perfect.  Again, I love capturing new formed love.  It’s the beginning of a very scary life, but one that you get to endure the good times, and bad with someone who will stand by your side no matter what is thrown your way.

 

Just like all of the other happy couples that I have had the pleasure of working with, the gleam in their eyes looking at each other is one for the romantic literature.  Matt has got this infectious personality that can light up a room.  He’s funny, witty, a culinary master, and enthusiastic bicyclist.  Kristin also lights up a room.  She matches every step that Matt takes then some.  These two are unstoppable and what I fondly call a “Power Couple”.  Nothing can stand in their way.

 

We were so happy to have them visit with us.  I hope that they come back again soon for round two of an island tour with more photos to present to them.

Katie and Joe

I’ve known Katie and Joe for a very long time.  In fact, the way that I met Katie was quite a bit hysterical.  I worked at another staffing agency from where I am now, and Katie came in looking for a job as she recently moved to the islands.  I didn’t find her anything in her field (social work), but we hit it off so well that we became friends.  She’s asked me several times to take photos of her and Joe.  Admittedly, they weren’t of their wedding since they had been married for years before I met them.  One day they sadly announced that they were moving to Argentina to take a break from Hawai`i.  Katie asked me to take some photos of them around the island, and I was more than happy to oblige.

Luckily for me, they moved back to our beautiful state and are here to stay.  When Katie got back, she volunteered to do a “trash the dress” session with me.  I went to the local Goodwill store, bought an old wedding dress, and voila! Katie was transformed into a beautiful bride.  She has always been one of my favorite models to call when I need to try something new.  She’s always excited to help.  Her radiance is always easy to capture on camera.  The way that Joe and Katie look at each other is equally easy to capture because of the pure love that they have for one another.

I’m not only happy to have a friend, and neighbor (her and Joe are now our next door neighbors), but her as a friend.  We always say that we need to spend more time with each other.  Clearly that needs to happen.  And quite honestly, have another photoshoot.

 

Nikki and Rhey

I’m a sucker for being a romantic.  Perhaps that’s why I love to photograph engagements, and weddings.  I love the feel of being transported back to our wedding in 1999 when I was so young and head-over-heals in love with my newly pronounced husband.  There’s something really special about photographing two people in love.  They have that glitter in their eyes, the look of uncertainty, and the adoring ways that they smile at each other.  Hence, Nikki and Rhey. Even though they got married in Las Vegas (not at the Chapel of Love), they asked me to photograph their reception here in Honolulu.

It was a rainy day, and we did our best to play with the weather the best that we could.  We got some nice outdoor shots, but the real fun was when we made it into the reception hall for the festivities to begin.  I had never been to a Philipino wedding before, but it was beautiful.  They had four different dance troops wearing their traditional garb, performing traditional Philipino dances.  They even had a Tahitian dancer giving blessings to the bride and groom. I spent four hours filming the festivities and walked away with over 500 shots.  Thinking about shooting a wedding on 35mm back in the old days, when you’d get 25 pictures on a roll of film, really put it into perspective how far that we’ve come since then.

 

Of course shooting the wedding’s are always the fun part.  Coming home and spending days on end editing on the other hand can be time consuming, and at times tedious.  Yet the magic starts to come alive, and the excitement of presenting the results are always the fun part.  There’s the nerves that are involved that maybe they won’t be happy with your photos.  But then you remember that you just captured four hours of a happy day that was in your hands.

I had a blast photographing Nikki and Rhey! They are so much fun and I hope that they will continue to use me as their family grows.  I’d always be down to flying for Vegas!

Welcome To Our Crazy, Beautiful World

When my friend Sarah asked me to take pictures of her baby after she’s born, I knew that I wanted to take some maternity shots of her.  We only had half an hour before sunset, which means we were rushing around the park getting as many photos as we could.  Sarah has been a good friend of mine for the past couple of years.  It’s like we were cut from the same cloth.  I am honored to photograph her and her beautiful daughter Moira, and the little bundle of joy on her way into this crazy, beautiful world.

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The Do I? Or Don’t I? Shot

Well, my dream of my blog post last night failed to go viral.  *le sigh*.  BTW, I complain a lot and I can be a taaaddd dramatic at times.  My husband is a trooper, and just sort of rolls his eyes, takes a deep breath and walks out of the room.  So you can imagine how silent its been around the house since I’ve been sick.  In fact, he went camping for the weekend I’m pretty sure to run-a-way from me.  I’m just kidding, I pushed him out of the house so he wouldn’t hear me cry and have a pity-party for myself about twice a day.  I’m not kidding.  I have been that sick that I’ve been acting out like a five year old.

With that said, I wanted to talk about photography again and take my mind off of the fact that I haven’t stopped coughing in over a week.  I told you.  Complainer.  Actually, I want to talk about a subject that I’m not sure how to feel about.  When is it appropriate to take a photo, and when is it not? 5922_302599319875881_1447661970_nWhen we visited Peru in 2013, we were strolling through the streets of Cuzco, when a funeral parade came by.  Instantly my photographer instincts kicked in and I took this photo of a mourning daughter who just lost her dad.   Oh, sorry for the graininess, this photo has been through a few transfers.  Anyway, as the photo was snapped, I started to wonder if that was the pono (right) thing to do.  An answer so many photojournalists have to ask themselves every time that they are out on assignment.  How involved and emotional do they get? If need to step in to help, would they do that, or do they get the shot instead? It’s something that I struggle with every time that I go out to shoot.  Especially while traveling.

So my questions are these:

  • Where do you draw the line between spectator and photographer
  • If there is an emergency situation, would you help or photograph the person(s) being helped.  I can’t help think about 9/11.  The photos that were taken were necessary to bring us the images that will haunt us forever.  But what did the photographer do to help? Did he/ she?
  • Is it disrespectful to take a photo of someone’s grief?

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.  Also, this is a little sneaky way to get more people to respond to my posts.  Vanity.  Yeah.  I’m a catch.

Quite Being Judgemental, Judgey

Is anyone still up with me? I’ve been sick all week, and still am having a hard time not feeling 100% yet.  That makes it very difficult for me to actually fall asleep.  Even after two Melatonin, I toss and turn trying not to cough up a lung.  So here I sit, on my website, for the millionth time trying to get it perfect.  The problem with “perfect” for an artist is that there is no perfect.  Only perfectionism that seems to take control of our lives in the most untimely moments.  I have been working on this site now for the past two weeks to get it looking “perfect”.  Yet, I just can’t seem to make all of the pieces fit together just the way I want them too.  But I am contemplating of letting the stress of perfectionist dictate to me how perfect I should be.  I know that we all do it.  We put unreasonable goals in front of us that just make us fret over why we didn’t accomplish them.

I have a friend of mine who I absolutely look up to.  You can check out here site at: here.  She’s smart, funny, extremely open, and writes like a comic champ.  She also is so successful on her blog that she gets companies to send her free things so that she can do a write up on their products.  Plus she has a million followers (well, that’s not true, but she has A LOT).  Honestly, I have a little bit of blog envy.  And that perfection starts to come out, and a little bit of my competitive nature.  I wonder to myself as I try to fall asleep at night, ‘I wonder how many hits I have now? Should I go check?’.  It’s all a little maniacal.  Just by looking at Katie below you get a pretty good idea who she is; fresh, inspiring, courageous and self-admittedly a little judgemental.  Which is what makes her real.  How often do you find a friend like that? So I guess I shouldn’t want her dead then.  That would be wrong just because I’m a selfish, envious and self-judging, and also very judgemental woman.  I will let her live along with her fantastic blog site.  I mean, it’s amazing and you need to check it out.  Then like my posts.  Then follow me too.

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Katie the cutie camera (R), Your truly camera (L)

Disclaimer: By the way, this blog from time to time is going to divert away from photography.  Especially, when I have insomnia.  It takes me forever to write it because of the Melatonin, and often I’ll sit in silence for a few minutes trying to remember what I was going to say.  You could say that I’m a bit of….there it goes again.  Off like a unicorn farting to the stars.

With all of that said, I’m going to bid you au revoir (that’s French you know) 😛 and try again to get some zzz’s.  Night to anyone who has taken the time to read this long piece.  I have no idea what it’s about myself.  Good on you for making the effort!

New To The World

What is it about newborn babies that make just about every woman squeal with delight? Coming from a mother of zero, I can tell you what makes me squeal.  This may seem a bit harsh, but I like it when they’re asleep.  Now wait! You’re thinking what a horrible monster I am right? Why don’t you let me finish and I can explain myself (how many times have we all said that?).  I love it when they are asleep because they are in zen baby mode.  I think that they are having these wonderfully beautiful dreams that no adult can experience.  I think that they are dreaming of some far-a-way land where they came from and are eager to get back.  My theory is that is why they cry when they wake up.  Reality sinks in and they’re back to a strange new world with lots of outside noises.  I also really love sleeping babies because honestly, that’s the best time to photograph them.  When they are quiet and asleep, far away from this world.  Just look at Spencer below.  He is the sweetest angel which makes this one of my favorite photos I have taken.

 

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Baby Spencer off in Never Neverland

In general I just love kids.  They are fun, full of life, and never really have to think about the mundane things in life that we adults do.  Wouldn’t it be nice to travel back to the day’s of being a kid just for a week to experience the wonderment all over.  Maybe we wouldn’t take our lives so seriously then.  I digress.  Look at Aedan here, only about a week old when he got his first of several glamor shots.  Aedan, now seven years old, is one of the sweetest boys that you will ever meet.  And brave! He already surfs and skateboards with his grandpa.  Children are just beautiful angels, and while I don’t have any of my own, I make a really good aunt and baby sitter.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Recently, I broke down and finally bought a new camera.  I had been searching and thinking about it for over a year.  When I heard mirrorless cameras were the new “it” technology”, I figured I’d give it some time to see how it upholds on shoots and go from there.  One day I did a google search for the best travel cameras.  Upon our decision to go abroad again, I wanted to make sure that the camera I took with wasn’t a point-and-shoot with limited zoom range, or a big heavy professional camera that would give me a neck pain as well as a hunched back.  Then, as I was researching, a ghost of sorts came up from the mists and caught my eye.  The Fuji X T-10.  It took me by surprise because it was the exact one that I talk about in this blog about how I learned to shoot on my dad’s camera. I did research on the camera, and was impressed.  I even went down to Best Buy to take a look at it up close, and feel in love with it.  The features while impressive, was not the reason why I bought the camera, but to honor the legacy of my father.  I can’t tell you how happy and proud I am to own this camera.  Not out of vanity, or materialism, but because I feel that every time I go out on a shoot now, my dad is with me.  And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.

 

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My Dad’s 1980 Fujica camera right, and my Fujifilm X-T10 camera left.
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As you can see, Fujifilm revamped the retro style almost to a “T” minus the analog features.
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The back of the cameras side by side.
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I’m obsessed with this photo.  It’s the first one I took with my dad’s camera.  I know it’s a horrible photo.  But to me I think it’s the best one I’ve ever taken.