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!
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.