I am bad – like, really bad – at promoting myself.
When I was a kid, I always wanted to sit alone, make a cool drawing or build something with Lego, and then immediately hide my creation away. I’d stow the drawings. I’d take apart my Lego builds. If an adult saw what I’d made and tried to congratulate me, a wall would come up inside my brain and their words of kindness would bounce off. Any praise I received would be meaningless because I myself would always find something to dislike in what I made.
And I made a ton of drawings, and Lego builds, and eventually I’d make music and photos and such. None of it was good enough. None of it was noteworthy for me. I wasn’t the happiest kid, and in fact I was downright sullen a lot of the time. Even my Mom will tell you: she worried about me.
Well, don’t worry, Mom! I’m still exactly the same.
Eh, maybe I’m not sullen anymore. But I am still perpetually unsatisfied. And it sucks – like, really sucks – because it just makes it so hard for me to believe in myself. Logically, I know with conviction and fire and every fiber I have, that I am good at things. And that the things I’ve made and done have made others happy. I have proof of this in my inbox – clients telling me that they’ve framed and hung the photo I made with them. It’s actual proof that I am good at this.
But I just can’t let that sink in. There’s still that wall inside of me that blocks the kind words of others. And I’m always asking, “Where does this wall come from?”. Is it from my upbringing? Is it from a singular event in my life that I can’t recall? Is it genetic? Is this just who I am?
At this point I think it’s a personality trait that has been reinforced through years (decades!) of cognitive bias. And it’ll probably take just as long to break that reinforcement down.
BUT. Like I said. I’m not sullen. I’m just accepting. I’ve accepted this, and over the years I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. Because at least I’m not just perpetually unsatisfied, but also chronically hungry… to improve. I’m aware that there is much still to learn, and that I just might be capable of learning it, because I’ve learned a lot already. I am capable, and good at things, and I will take that to heart.
SYKE! I won’t take those things to heart.
But I’ll keep them in mind.
And one day, I won’t be grasping for a truth that’s just out of reach. I’ll wrap a fist around that truth and punch a hole through the wall inside me.
I’ll unfurl this truth inside me and let it grow. Because the truth is that I am worthy, and good, and skilled. I am capable of more than I know.
I will get there, and when I do, maybe – just maybe…
I will promote myself.
A huge thank you to the Roberts Family for letting me be who I am on this beautiful morning at Waialea Bay, an area of immense history and power. And thank you to you, for reading!
Happy November, everyone! It has been pretty sunny here on the Big Island – cloudfree skies from Volcano to Kona! I hope it’s sunny where you are, too.
Here are a few photos from a very sunny session with the friendly Switzer family.
Thanks for being here on my blog!
I’m pretty bad at sports. The single time I tried it competitively, doing track and field in elementary school, a kid cut into my lane and kicked a ton of dust and gravel into my face in front of a hundred people. Was he faster than me? You bet he was. But I literally ate his dust and that wasn’t cool.
I remember losing the race, but also losing it. I stopped mid-race and stumbled into the restroom, washing my eyes over the sink, fuming that this kid broke the rules right in front of everyone and seemingly got away with it.
What was crazy is that he actually wasn’t the only one cheating, either. Before the race, my coach told me that there were a bunch of rules to follow – where to put your hands at the starting line, how to use the push block, how to stay in your lane, and the fact that you “must wear shoes”. Well I got something to tell you, buddy — Half the kids were barefoot. Some of them weren’t even using the push block. A couple dangled their hands in the air before the starting pistol fired. Not a single referee seemed to care. Where are you, Coach!? I was only 10 years old and so far had been unaccustomed to seeing this kind of blatant rule-breaking. I hadn’t yet learned to drive in Hilo town traffic, for example. And so to my innocent young eyes, the fabric of society had been torn apart and thrown in my face.
I guess you could say that from then on I’d lost faith in all things athletic and organized. Cheaters won, my coach was wrong, and I had the opposite of a good time. It just seemed like a whole lot of drama for zero reward, and I couldn’t in good faith take part in something that required cheating to win — because I wasn’t the fasted kid, so I knew I’d have to cheat in order to win. So I stuck to my videogames and astronomy, certain that I had the moral high ground.
But I’ll say one thing. I marveled at the kids that stuck with sports. To this day I respect them, and I regret my dismissiveness of it all. Dare I say I could’ve done some damage at Air Riflery in High School. I could have been one of those kids who made it their passion. Kids who YOLO’d the heck out of the school experience. I didn’t do that, and I wish I had.
Instead, I took photography classes, and, well, here we are! 🙂
So I guess it wasn’t a total loss. And I will definitely teach my own kids to pursue their interests with all of their might. Because you never know where it could take you, and you never know what you may regret when you’re older.
Well, it appears that my pandemic sabbatical has ended. Visitors are returning, sessions are happening, and my daughter is going to Kindergarten in a classroom – at least for the time being. The past year and a half has been something incredible, in the sense that if I travelled back in time, to tell my past self of what was to come, I’d look at myself and say “You’re not credible.” 🙂
It has been something though. To whoever is reading this, I truly hope that you’ve been safe and healthy. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost someone, or who have lost a part of themselves in all of this. I’m thankful no-one close to me suffered much from Covid-19, and it was actually a decent year for my family, all things considered… but I know I’ve changed inside. Something about the isolation, the sudden end to my business, the continued presence of the virus, the proliferation of bizarre social media opinions-paraded-as-facts, and the lack of cohesion in the US government changed me. Like a tree whose bark had been torn off, by the start of 2021, I felt raw, emotionally vulnerable, and weary.
So I have to admit, it has been difficult returning to the old ways. July was a busy month for me, and I’m thrilled that I still find a visceral joy seeing a shot and capturing it with my camera – I still really enjoy finding that feeling with families. But it has been tough to adjust to. I’m more tired these days, and less of a dreamer than I was. I’d gotten used to a Hawaii with no visitors, and it was so nice. Now they’re back, and I’m back with them in a sense, and everything is stressful and busy. I don’t blame people for wanting to come here at all, and for the most part I welcome the relief, but I can’t help but feel lost and found at the same time.
No sweat, though! I am certain all of this is temporary. The deluge of folks wanting to get some R&R here will wain, and I do think my sense of misplacement will wain with it. There’ll be a balance. Equilibrium will come. A bit of normalcy.
But even that will be temporary. Because if the past year has taught me something, it’s that the world can and will change. It isn’t all just good. It isn’t entirely stable. But It isn’t all just bad, either, and I believe that so long as we remember to be selfless, and open, and empathetic to everything around us, it will be okay. There will be change and we’ll be forced to change with it, but through that we’ll become stronger. Resilient. Wiser. And reflective. We might not be able to travel back to warn our past selves, but we can take note to learn for the future.
So now that my sabbatical has ended, what am I to do?
To quote a favorite movie of mine – “Never give up. Never surrender!”
And to that end, here’s one of my fave families, the Adams Ohana.
Thanks for being here, all. I appreciate it! I’m still getting the hang of it, but I appreciate it. Be safe out there!
Most of my family photo sessions are near Kailua-Kona, or in Waikoloa — home to beautiful sunsets, great beaches, and expansive resorts. But I live in the town of Volcano, about 100 miles away… so my commute home tends to be at night.
I have to admit that I always try to take advantage of that brief moment, when you’re driving by a house in darkness, and you try to figure out what they’re watching on TV just by the tiny glimpse you get through their living room window.
Anyone else do this?
It never fails to fascinate me. Every one of us has two powerful stories — the one we broadcast to the world, and the private one we leave at home. What we watch on TV can be an intersection of those. A gateway for others to peer into. I feel a little creepy doing it but my curiosity makes it too hard to resist.
I try to imagine what their lives might be like; a stressed middle-aged father sipping on a beer during ESPN commercial breaks. A grandmother, relaxing after watching the grand-kids all day, seeing another case solved by the Special Victims Unit.
Or perhaps someone might drive by my house, and see a computer screen illuminating a slightly ragged photographer every night near midnight. Although truthfully I look ragged all day (thank you stay-at-home-parenting life).
Who are these people? What can be inflected from the screens they observe?
I like to think of family photos as a similar window into people, but for each other to look into. One day, the photos from your session will let future generations ask those same questions about you. I love seeing faded B&W photos of my great-grandparents, whom I’ve never met. On my Mom’s side, they were born in Okinawa, in the 1800’s. A completely different, much tougher world than the one I inhabit today.
Photos are a gateway — an intersection in time — that lets us cross from our lives to another.
I guess that makes me the guy that controls the Bifrost of Asgard, from Thor? Or perhaps I’m just a lucky guy illuminated by a computer screen at midnight.
In any case, here are a few photos from a wonderful session I did with the Porter Family from California. They wanted a smattering of posed photos to be used as a grand display in their home, as well as some playful candids that show a bit of who they are individually and collectively. Pretty sure we nailed it, thanks much in part to how easy they were to work with!
A huge thanks to the Porters for allowing me to
photograph — no — for allowing me to summon a gateway so their future grand kids can look back into the past! 🙂