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! 🙂
Down a curving road twisting through the rocks, past the soaring lobby of the Mauna Lani and after a quick little walk, there is a little black sand beach hidden from most. Being an introvert to a fault, I love places like these; quiet places, and secret places to build secret things, although my writing about this beach here on the blog makes it not a secret place anymore, and obviously the secret things I built here were the photos of the awesome Cheung Family, from Australia. Secret’s out, I guess, like the seed of an avocado scooped by a spoon. It rolls across the counter top and you wonder, could you bury it and sprout a tree?
I sometimes feel that, in today’s world of constant social connections, hustling & bustling, and always feeling like you have to “keep up appearances” or make your voice heard, being an introvert is something of a guilty pleasure. To be yourself becomes an outlier of an experience, and sometimes even detrimental to one’s own success. It was absolutely detrimental to today’s success, because I fully intended to buy an oil filter for our car, but just didn’t have it in me to be around the other patrons at O’Reilly’s. I did try to buy it off of Amazon, bypassing all human contact, but it kept saying that they couldn’t ship it to my address. What’s the deal, Amazon, why won’t you let me be introverted? For crying out loud, Amazon!
Anyway, what’s really strange is that, during sessions, I am actually very happy to stow my introverted side away and become the outgoing dude needed to make awesome photos with other people. After all these years it is effortless and enjoyable. I think what it is, is that I don’t really like talking to strangers, but by default everyone who invites me for a session aren’t strangers at all, but instead friends. I think that’s what the Cheung family felt like. Old friends.
Here are a few photos from their session!
What a year it has been! For a lot of it I took a pretty long break from posting here and on my Instagram, but I’m back and extremely excited to share all the amazing people, photos and Big Island sunsets I’ve been privileged to! But before that, a brief update on what I’ve been doing in a non-photographic sense:
- In January I started a big DIY home renovation project with only a tiniest idea of how to make it all happen. I guess it could be called Operation Mother-In-Law, since it’s essentially a 320 sq ft house for her to move into. Today I jack-hammered concrete! And tomorrow I’ll wake up very sore.
- In April my wife and I had a son, who is now 4 months old and is quite the handsome handful. And by handful, I mean that he likes everything in short bursts. Carrying positions, nap times, meal times, and “baby is sleeping so Daddy can do stuff” times. Everything is as short as he is, and since he’s a baby, he is pretty short.
- Earlier this month, our 3-year-old daughter FINALLY finished toilet training!! This could possibly be the most important thing to happen since the advent of agriculture. She also started pre-school, which has already increased her social skills beyond my own, and she’s also started watching Peppa Pig like there’s no tomorrow, so now she sometimes speaks in a vaguely British accent.
I have to say that it goes without saying that I love my kids. In contrast, it does not go without saying that parenting is really hard, so I’ll say it. Parenting is really hard. It’ll make or break you, and often in the same day (or same hour (and the same minute)). But what is life without challenges? Or love?
Which I think is a good segue to the lovely session I had with Heather & Jesse down at Kukio. I should stop writing now. Thanks for reading, all, and I hope you find this wonderful couple as perfect as I do. 🙂
In the mood for a Hawaii haiku:
the wind blown grill glows
loved ones cooking at sunset
the smell fills our tents
Gosh I miss camping. Been so long. Okay, I feel like that haiku was good. Here’s one more. I swear I’m making these up as I go along!
racing down the snow
brother and cousins watching
breathless climbs uphill
Gosh I miss Mauna Kea during the snow. Tends to happen every year but I haven’t gone lately. Okay, one more…?
hilo walmart trip
hungry crowds fill the aisle ways
more grief than it’s worth
I should write a book about being born and raised here, but the entire thing could just be a series of haikus — hundreds of them! — and all super specific yet incredibly vague, like basically every haiku I’ve ever read.
And with that bit of randomness out of the way, the Lake family made for awesome company at the Four Seasons Hualalai! An ohana with Hawaii roots, they had a blast returning to the islands and enjoying a bit of home, and I was grateful to be there too.
I just recently posted Rachel and Philipp’s wonderful Engagement Session — such a treat to have captured them in front of the vent plume (which has since gone silent). Not to mention the fact that they’re rad people with good taste in music, and who also share my love for Korean food.
Their wedding day went by brisk and beautiful. The clouds had shifted overnight and now hung low in the sky. Rain seemed all but certain, but we remained dry the entire afternoon, save for a good vaporwave in the steam vents.
Weddings are always a big deal, but I had no idea of the poignancy that their wedding would have on a personal level. The Park has forever changed since they eloped. One of my favorite places in the world is different, a part of it turned off and much of it closed off and destroyed. It’s as if Old Faithful suddenly became totally unreliable, and then just called it quits, and since you’ve visited it many times a year, every year, you’ve grown to love it and almost be friends with it. And now it’s kind of just… gone.
So when I look at these photos, I see a beautiful wedding, and a wonderful couple, but I also feel a tremendous wave of bittersweet nostalgia. It passes through me like a rock sinking into the sea. Sinking slowly to the seabed. And I’m both happy for the memories made, and sad for those left unwritten. A seabed of a million memories being cast by everyone who has been affected by the eruption, building underwater until a new mountain is born, and from these memories, a new island in our hearts.
And it’ll be… okay. Because the Park is still there, and we are still here. The island is still beautiful, as is the Park, and the spirit of aloha continues across this island that we love so much.
Thank you so much to Rachel & Philipp for sharing these awesome moments with me, and for allowing me to show you some of my favorite places in the world. And thank you, for reading. Until next time!