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Rachel and Philipp and the Volcano: Engagement Session

I really have to say that 2018 was… a journey. On the personal front it was so stressful, and hard, and just weird, for reasons I’ll get into in the future (it kind of deserves its own write-up). Needless to say that being a stay at home parent and self-employed artist can be the most potent combination of joy, tedium, excitement, and loneliness that I’ve ever encountered.

But the biggest thing to happen on the island at large was, of course, the rivers of lava flowing through neighborhoods and farmland.

I doubt there’s a single person on the island who hasn’t been affected by it in some way, whether it was the increased vog in Kona and Hilo, the tiring, daily earthquakes where I’m at in Volcano town, or, of course, the actual flow. It was heartbreaking to watch, and to know that not that far from home, people were losing their own land and livelihood, and all of us were losing some of the most beautiful places on the island.

I’m thankful to live over 20 miles from where the flow was, but I am only a few miles from the summit of Kilauea and the rest of the National Park. The big earthquake, at 6.9, rocked my house so hard that I could see the rafters of my carport straining and bending as I stumbled out of the house holding my daughter. It was the first, and hopefully only time, I’ve ever actually feared for Sharlotte’s safety.

Soon after that a giant plume appeared over the national park, marking the crater’s collapse. The magma that was held beneath broke free, traveled underground, and exploded onto the residential streets of Leilani estates. It was “the nicest place in Puna, the place where the richer people live” to us locals when I was growing up. It was still “the nicer spot in Puna”. And then it became a geological war zone. I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime — because, nah, that kind of stuff only happened in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s… not today.

It felt as if the island was under siege; as if our home was deep in pain, gasping for air, and struggling, all the while we were doing the same. But at the same time, through the pain we all felt as residents here, I think most of us respected this process. I can’t even imagine what the residents of Leilani and Kapoho must have felt, but from the social media postings I saw, it seemed as if we all admired it deeply and watched it in strange awe. This incredible growth. History in the making. It was a time of beauty and sadness.

And then, it stopped. The National Park reopened with bittersweet fanfare. Christmas came and went and the trees are beginning to fill the waste dumps. Life has been normal, at least for myself and most of the people I know.

But a lingering lesson still burrows into my head, born from the eruption of 2018. That my wife and I might own our house, but we’ll never own the land under it — not really. We’re okay with that, because this is our home. This is our heart. This is life on our amazing, beautiful, little Big Island of ours.

And on that note, I wanted to share a few photos of Rachel & Philipp’s amazing two day adventure in the park, before the eruption, back when Halema’uma’u was still pumping out it’s glowing plume. Rachel & Philipp are such gracious people and I was thankful that they chose me to be their engagement and elopement photographer… but now the gratitude blooms brighter simply because I was able to capture one of my favorite places in the world, now changed forever.

First, the engagement session.

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The Diptiman Family

Happy Holidays from the Big Island, everyone! I hope it’s going smoothly for you, and may your gift shopping quests be victorious. 🙂

Speaking of, we actually just ordered our daughter a 3T sized astronaut suit for Christmas, since she really loves everything space and likes to pretend she’s flying to Jupiter. It has been an amazing joy sharing my own love for space with her, and teaching her about black holes, exoplanets, and nebulas.

My secret hope is that she becomes a genius level engineer and is selected to go to Mars, and somehow pulls the strings that score her Mom, Dad, and future brother tickets onto her spaceship. Who knows if it’ll happen but the mere possibility makes my head spin!

Anyway, I just wanted pop in here and share a bit of what’s going on, and some photos of an amazing, energetic family I had a pleasure of working with. A massive thank you to the Diptiman family for letting me document their genuine, unobstructed love for each other!


Big Island Family Photo sunsetKona Family on the beachHawaii family sunsetWaikoloa vacation photoDad playing in HawaiiFamily laughing on a beachVictory dance in HawaiiFamily Portraits in HawaiiVacation mood in HawaiiHawaii Senior Photo on the beachBlack and white portrait on the beachSunset couple in HawaiiMoody hawaii coupleLaughter, love, and salty airFamily near palm treesPretty sunset on the Big IslandTravel photo of family on a beach walk

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Mauna Kea Beach Hotel with the Wilcox Family

Summer may be coming to a slow and steady end, but it has been just as warm and sunny here in Hawaii, and it has been pretty busy for me, too… as summers tend to be.

This family session with the Wilcox family was both the largest I’ve ever done, as well as the hottest! I faced an instantaneous torrent of sweat the second I walked across the resort lobby. A palpable layer of humidity floated over the entire Mauna Kea resort area, and the sun beamed across the sky with such determination that it even seemed to keep the mighty Hawaiian tradewinds at bay.

Humidity + sun + zero wind would usually make for unhappy people, but the entire Wilcox ohana — all 25 of them — were in good, loving spirits, and despite the environmental challenges, I had a great time creating photos that would remind them of their family vacation here on the Big Island.

hawaii family reunionkona family photographerbig family photokona family photographykids playing in hawaiikids running in hawaiifamily photographer konakona sunset familyfamily in hawaii– Jim

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Sunset Surreal with the Roscoe Family

I have a list of words in my head that are a sort of “driving force” for my work. Words I think about, words that inspire me, words that even just make me seem cooler than I am when I say them out loud to myself (confidence boost!).







Pathos, Ethos, Logos




Combined, they form a mood that for me is incredibly powerful and inspiring. With every single session, I try to reach for this mood, to pluck it from the sky and express it through my work, but it’s a finicky thing, like sweeping your hand through fog and hoping to get a drink of water. The thirst for this expression will never seem to end.

Occasionally I’ll meet other people who seem to respond to this mood too. People like those here on my blog. Maybe you, reading this now! People like the Roscoe family, who I first met about 5 years ago. Our session then was one for the record books, and this most recent session was wonderful as well.

If anything, I can be thankful for that, and for them. I’m not sure if I met the mood my words above convey, but at the very least I’m blessed to have the opportunity to try.

Thanks for taking a look!

family in hawaii with a turtlefamily in hawaiiI first met the Roscoe ohana around 5 years ago. We had a wonderful time then, and I
kids hugging in hawaiikids playing in hawaiilift that kid up high!kona sunset with kidscouple in love looking at a hawaii sunset

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Allison & Nick in Kealakekua

I drove around the south end of the Big Island; a beautiful route I normally don’t take. It’s out of the way for my usual shooting locations.

But Allison and Nick’s wedding wasn’t at any of my usual locations. For their wedding day they had secured an oceanfront estate in the stunning Kealakekua bay. To say that I was excited to be in such a magical place would be an understatement!

Despite being a popular tourist attraction, it has a quiet, off-the-beaten-path and rather local vibe to it… which, it turns out, was absolutely perfect for Allison, Nick and their family and friends.

I entered the estate well ahead of schedule and found the place to be quietly, confidently moving along with preparations. Some weddings I’ve done have had a hurried feel, a nervousness, which is understandable… because it’s a wedding. But for these two and their loved ones, it almost felt like just any other day, and I instantly felt a calm wash over me as I introduced myself to everyone. Allison in particular had to have been one of the calmest, most relaxed brides I’ve ever met, and Nick was charming and hadn’t broken a sweat even in the coastal heat.

The rest of the afternoon proceeded just as smoothly, and I had such an enjoyable time capturing it all.
This, I believe, is the universe in perfect alignment. Thank you, Allison and Nick, for having me there to document it!


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