Passion within Photography

IMG_0092 Love.  It is a driving force… especially with a passionate photographer, such as myself.

Ahhh, being ‘in love’, the beautiful, sensual, fulfilling bliss which fills your heart with a weightlessness within your body and soul.  The cliché ‘walking on cloud nine‘ makes sense, well sort of… what does the nine stand for?

This week I photographed such a couple. They are both military. Yesterday he left for Korea and new wife is on-base here, in Hawaii. I am sure they’ve looked at these photographs over and over in the one day they have been apart.

They are ‘in love’. Their bliss of weightlessness gave me ideas I had never suggested to other couples. “Sit on his shoulders… Can you stand, James? Ashley? IMG_0011 can you stretch your arms out to the heavens?”  They did beautifully and he didn’t stumble once. I knew I would be pushing my limits, and theirs, if I asked her to stand up.  They trusted each other in body and soul.

Many times couples bring their own clothing and I always take some conservative shots to share with mom and dad, younger brother and sister. Then, if the couple wants to spice up the shots just a bit, I take out my props.

IMG_1164Men look handsome and dramatic in an unbuttoned, white shirt and women look very sexy in a long, white silky gown.  Now, put they in the water and you’ll get photographs they will love.  A hand on the tush, a kiss on the neck, a nibble on the ear, a tickle on the side, dripping water from a shell down her chest, pressed against a stone wall, making-out beneath a big, straw hat, silhouettes against the sky or laying in the sand, walking into the water or just playing and laughing. Being within their  intimacy is a delicate business for any photographer, especially when a couple is a bit bashful. They have to trust you completely.

IMG_0163Yes, they ‘re ready to play, but to get great shots, it is important the photographer (me) understands the balance between their freedom and quietly suggesting the position of a hand, the placement of a kiss, the gentle touch against her cheek, the humor to emphasize the sweetness of her smile, the tilt to outline his jaw, the twinkle in theirs eyes. The photographer (me) always needs to know where the sun is shining to capture the image within her mind; the placement of bodies, the use of natural or artificial light, the background, the best lens, the camera settings, her position in regard to her clients, ahh, so much going on in my mind, yet always remembering the most important element of a great photo shoot, IMG_1256the trust between James, Ashley and myself.  It is allowing them space with gentle suggestions, encouraging the loving touches, feeling the love they have for each and blessed they have allowed the photographer (me)  into their circle of bliss.

My heart is as weightless as theirs after the shoot.  My passion for life, for love and for photography has me dancing on ‘cloud nine‘.  Does anyone know what the ‘nine’ implies?IMG_1045


Love before my eyes…

Whenever I have the opportunity to photograph a couple, I consider it a double blessing.  To witness the spirit of love is so uplifting to my soul, it is as beautiful as seeing little children playing and laughing without a care in the world.  Yes, I am an old romantic, but to see the twinkle in their eyes, the obvious touches of endearment, it just fills my heart with joy.

Ginell and Rich are two such people; completely devoted to each other, so much in love you can see their aura radiating a soft glow. They are a happy, blessed couple and they both know how fortunate they are to have found each other.  (Not to mention, having a vacation in Hawaii.)

The session was a breeze on an early morning shoot.  All I had to do was ask for this or for that and they gave me everything I wanted.  In return, they received almost 200 photos to bring home to share with family and friends. But, most importantly, they now have photos to decorate the walls of their home.  I will share a few with you.  Enjoy.

I hope you have love in your life, but if not now, keep your heart open… and love will find you.

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Morning Light… is sweet.

Five months ago, the Pride of America, Hawaii,, cruise ship hired Chelsea as a dancer in their production crew.  She’s talented, beautiful, spirited and a pleasure to work with, oh, did I mention she’s an outstanding model, too?  We created images using four different outfits, having fun and working together.  She has a great portfolio.

On a photo shoot I want to Capture the Spirit… of the Moment in many lights.

I started planning my ‘shots’ before we even reached the beach. The natural light is beautiful at 8 or 9 AM. Chelsea. Red hair against blue sky? Brilliant. Fair complexion? High-key. Artificial flash?  I decided the use both, natural and a Norman Strobe 400B. Chelsea also added a light-tone of her own to each frame.  A few slides for you to enjoy…  Thanks for stopping by.

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Mai Tai in Waikiki

The Mai Tai Bar in Waikiki is located on the top-level of the Ala Moana Mall.  It is a popular bar in Honolulu.  The tourists, shoppers and the night-life crowd enjoy yummy appetizers and yummier drinks as they relax on a sofa, at a table or lounge at the bar.  Ahh, yes, easy and relaxing, with waitresses in short aloha-style dresses. ( Unlike most 50+ year-old women I don’t begrudge their beauty and youth.  Not me, I’m keep my wisdom, thank you, but in my next life I will appreciate and possibly flaunt it just a little bit more).

I once enjoyed a mai tai cocktail (rum and sweet juices and triple sec and ?), it’s a sweet concoction that knocked me over and left me with a big, enormous headache in the morning.  I shouldn’t have had more than one.  Although, I am glad the memories still exists (possibly embellished a bit), as it always make me feel much younger (and foolish) for a moment or two.   Mai-tai’s… that’s one big ocean, little girl.

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Her name was Mai Tai.  I looked at the model and my face immediately got the ‘cat ate the bird’ expression.  I hope she didn’t think it was because of her name.  Maybe my face stayed frozen for a moment too long because she began to explain that mai-tais may have played a part in her conception.  (I wanted to tell her I could empathize as I’m sure there was an alcohol-induced sperm in my creation too, but thought better of it.)  It’s not wise to get a model professionally made-up only to create an ocean of tears, destined to destroy the air-brushing professionally applied by Sephora Cosmetics on Kalakaua Ave. in Waikiki (thanks, Danielle, you did a beautiful job).

 Mai-tai was a natural at posing, but it was her eyes that expressed her spirit to my camera.

I used my Canon 7D with a 70-200 lens for head shots shooting at 125 shutter and 18 aperture, 200 ISO for most of the shots.  Although there was plenty of natural light between 4:30 and 5:30, I decided to use my 400B Norman Strobe light.  It is a heavy, bulky, older version, but I’m always pleased with the results. The props were simple: a pink, silk scarf to begin our session…

Mai Tai said she favored her mother, obviously a Chinese beauty herself.  The story unfolded within my imagination as Mai Tai modeled before me; a young woman, delicate as a Chinese flower, (possibly a cherry blossom) walking along the beach wrapped in a pink, silk shawl carrying a parasol.  A definite heartache buried in her soul. Perhaps from the lover that promised to take her back to his home in Hawaii?  Is she torn between family and the man she loves?  Does she have a secret she can’t tell?  As my mind played out the scenes, Mai Tai recreated them beyond me.  We were on the same page, or literally, standing in the same ocean.

Next prop: The change into the silk, black wrap-around dress definitely modernized Mai Tai.  The contrast between the background and her body stretched upon on big, well-textured rock created images of a smooth, sexy, elegant woman, but more importantly, it was the variations in tones that intrigued me the most, (possibly great in black and white?). My imagination continued to play out the role; a young woman aware of her sensuality, intelligence, ambition… and big goals.  She aches from an unknown lonliness, but does not allow the pain to surface very often, determined it will never interfere with her dreams.

The next set of photos we took were head shots using a blue fan as a prop.  Her face is beautiful, her eyes cast the emotions wherever her imagination was traveling.  She is an exceptionally talented model.

Mai Tai will achieve her dreams; she will be an emergency room doctor in another 6 years? She had known since childhood she would become a doctor.  She can put away the toy stethescope her father bought her when she was a little girl. She is on her way and she hopes modeling may help pay for some of her expenses.

The time just flies by when I’m on a shoot. The sun was getting lower and lower in the sky. We got ready for the wedding gown shots.  The dress was perfect for her, a feminine Cinderella gown.  The bride was glowing and her eyes twinkled as she tossed the pink rose blossoms into the air.  Mai Tai twirled on the beach and sat upon a rock in the water, oblivious her wedding gown was getting trashed. (Don’t worry, I directed her.)

The soft blue sky in one direction, the golden glow if I faced the west.  I love to shoot at this time, the possibilities with lighting are so much fun to play with.  Using filters at sunset can create beautiful photographs, as well, but this evening my lens was naked. I was using my 18-55 for the scenic approach. (When people come to Hawaii, they want to see ‘Hawaii’ in some of the background shots, damn it!)

I love to create and when Mai Tai and I got together we created a spiritual dance with our energy; from her soul, to my camera, to my soul. (Thanks for sharing Mai Tai).

The following week I researched the meaning of her name on the internet; Mai in Chinese means ocean, elegance; in Japanese it is dance and in Vietnamese it is Cherry Blossoms. Tai means big ~ and big can be placed before any dream .

Mai Tai’s parents gave her a very, special name.  It is reasonable to conclude that a Mai Tai is not just a mai-tai.

Hope it’s true…

I have procrastinated long enough about this task.  Yesterday, was the first day of life and it only seems fitting to continue on the same path today.  I made a commitment to myself about blog writing, but more importantly, I said to you, daily, not when I feel like it.  Oh, believe me, I’ve used every legitimate excuse in the book tonight to get myself out of this.   I hadn’t taken in the time commitment of importing my photos, editing, exporting in low-res, etc., etc.  Besides, why would you be interested in what I did today, unless it was something spectacular… hand-gliding at Dillingham Air Field strike your fancy?  Go ahead, feel your arms outstretched, your chest puffed out like a proud rooster cocking your head to one side as you inhale the freshness of life into your cells.  YES! You’re feeling that energy through and through, it is just you and the universe at this moment of glory.  You are experiencing  ‘that passionate moment we talked about yesterday’.

Unfortunately my thrill didn’t have anything to do with roosters or my anatomy nor did I feel anything special flowing through me.  I did seven loads of laundry today at the Kaneohe Laundromat, that took care of a big chunk of my day and wallet, too.

I really felt I needed to remind myself to count my blessings. I didn’t have to haul a cart 10 miles downhill to a fresh water stream to launder my clothes, did I?  Or worse, I wasn’t living in my dirty clothes, indefinitely.  So, in my humble tone, I quietly said a blessing for every quarter I plugged into those machines today… I lost track after the 113th quarter. You may be thinking, my god, she must have had two-months supply of dirty clothes… No, no sweetie, but I had curtains, so many curtains, sheets, blankets, a comforter and a quilt (oh, you must use  the extra big machines for just 50 cents more, dear) plus four pillows and a couple baskets full of dirty clothes… and a partridge in a pear tree.

This morning after breakfast, I finished my ‘spring cleaning’ in the bedroom, enjoying each moment as I wiped away the dirt and grit from living in a second floor apartment.  (It has to do with the wind whipping the black soot from the near-by rooftops directly through my open windows).  Thorough cleaning always brings me back to my New England years, when hanging the laundry on the clothesline in the springtime was considered a blessing (my ex would trip the circuit breaker on April 1st and the dryer ‘remained broken’  until he  got around to fixing it towards the end of November.  He thought I hadn’t figured it out.)  Although, I didn’t enjoy the idea of going into the dark, scary basement (I called it a dungeon) flipping a switch isn’t too difficult to do.

On the days that he did the laundry, (probably more often than me),  I did help him to take it off the lines.  It was the sheets in the warm, spring sunshine that I loved taking down. I would out-stretch my arms as I folded the sheet in half, snap the crispness of the cotton in the air, and as the sheet floated down I inhaled the freshness of life. This memory comes back to me often… I don’t even have to standing outside.  As a matter of fact, today was a perfect devaju feeling.  That energy flowing right through me without another soul in sight.  I was in the moment, just for a moment.

Another bonus of coming at the high-noon hour is that next door to the Kaneohe Laundromat is The Little Snack Shop.  Gail Hirahara is the owner and is one the cheeriest woman I know and  she’s makes a yummy tuna sandwich.  Today, I just happen to long for her egg salad, thickly spread between two slices of wheat bread with lettuce so crisp I could hear the crunch. (I hope that wasn’t eggshell).  Gail opens at 6 am with all her homemade breakfast items and lunchtime goodies.  Her small retail store has a variety of snack items and drinks and a few, little tables to sit down and eat.  You will enjoy her company as much as you enjoy her cooking. Shortly after lunch she closes shop for the day.

If you want your bentos (this means a lunchtime plate in Hawaii), your spam musubi (a 2×4 block of white rice, topped with a slice of spam ~ do you remember spam? ~  and then wrapped together with a wide band of seaweed.)  It’s a very popular item here and it is preferably eaten warm.  I love rice and spam is spam, so maybe it’s the seaweed thing that is an acquired taste.  This is the exception to the rule of; don’t judge a book by its cover; this may not be the fanciest place in town, but you’ll get good food.

There were so many things I had to learn, and still continue to learn, about the local food and culture here. So many questions to ask… I think this may be my destination job site for a while.

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Do you know what vog is:  not fog or smog, but vog, V-O-G.  I didn’t have a clue when I go here five years ago from the Boston area.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Oahu was blanketed with thick vog on Tuesday. The good news, relief is on the way, soft trades are due back tonight and should clear things up by the morning.

According to the State of Hawaii, vog is the haze you may see in the air that is caused by a combination of weather, wind conditions and volcanic activity.

Vog becomes thicker or lighter depending upon the amount of emissions from Kilauea volcano, the direction and amount of wind, and other weather conditions.

People with pre-existing respiratory conditions are more prone to adverse effects of vog which may include: headaches, breathing difficulties, increased susceptibility to respiratory ailments, watery eyes, and sore throat.

Click here for the State of Hawaii’s vog website. Click here for the current EPA AIR NOW forecast.

You can also call the Department of Health’s toll-free VOG help line at 866-767-5044 for daily updates on vog levels.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved

The vog hanging over Kaneohe Bay this afternoon was a bit eery looking.  I walked on the low-tide sands to take a few photos. You could barely see Mokoliʻi Island (Chinaman’s Hat) in the distance through the vog, very hazy on the mauka-side of town. (this is a frequently used phrase, it means towards the mountains… makai refers to the ocean-side.  Considering the landscape here it makes perfect sense to me ~ now.)  Learning, always learning.  Appreciating and counting my blessings 🙂

Look carefully at the three last photos~  is that a bird or a plane?

It appears once you cross through the Ko’olau Mountain tunnel the sky isn’t so hazy.

I travel the work taking photographs and writing blogs. This is my first (self-determined) job-site ~  living and learning on Oahu, enjoying all my passionate moments.

Yikes, except when I realize I have to get up in 5 hours for a meeting on the other side of the island. I’ll tell you tomorrow how it goes.

There I did.  Two days in a row. Congratulations, girl.  I will continue, I must not think otherwise.  Tomorrow I will not procrastinate until the midnight hour.  On second thought, tomorrow will be very difficult, I spend Wednesday evenings in Chinatown.  No, no, no… don’t let me do that, find an excuse.  A promise is a promise.

I hope it’s true… but for the second day I’m living my dream.  Could I be delusional?  There’s always that possibility!

Thank you for visiting and for viewing my work.  Talk to you tomorrow.

(I need to learn how to this work within this blog site more efficiently.)

The first day of the rest of my life…

Jan 3, 2012 marked a new beginning for me.  I was a couple of days later than the rest of world, nothing that usual for me.  I finally figured it all out… For as long as I can remember I have dreamt about becoming a travel photographer.  I can imagine how amazing I will feel to see the frames of the world through my camera lens.  I know I’ll be able to capture the elderly grandmother with twinkling eyes and the tears welling up in a downcast child.  I will show you the hardened lava rock of the mountains and the birds gliding through curvy, dense trails.  I will bring the colors of the clown fish to your eyes as though you were right there with them.  You will run wild through the endless fields and huddle in a back alley of Chinatown. My photography will show the world to you through my vision and creation.

And to sweeten the deal of my dream life: bonus number 2:  To Write.  Photography and Writing.  My two greatest passions!  (Passion means that you’re ‘in the moment’, baby!)  At the end of an incredible day on my job, I will sit down and write everything I can remember about it, in my own words. You will the see the little clouds of dust from the children’s bare feet as they play double dutch in the schoolyard.  As you read my blogs you’ll see the contrast between Auntie Mae’s brittle, white hair (it’s actually almost yellow) against the thick, dark green backdrop of the mountains. Someday.  Someday I will, before I get too old, as soon as I have enough…  Money?

Well, better not go there right now.  That little phrase, “someday I’ll be… rich…” you whisper so humbly beneath your breath (well, maybe a little humble).   You tilt your head with a confident nod and feel justified that finally, finally someone thinks you’re special enough to pay you to do what you love; take amazing pictures and write funny, but informational blogs as I travel the world 🙂    I image just enough money to have a comfortable little home next to the ocean, but close enough to a mountain too.  Tsunamis scare me.    No, scratch that plan… unless my daughter wants to live in the little 7 room cottage while her mama is traveling around the globe living her dream.  Finally.  hehehe.

So, for the time being, my dream is on ‘temporary hold’ waiting for sufficient funding, which if I work, work, work I will get there.  I can hear my dead mother’s sarcastic tone, “why are you whining? nothing is ever served on a silver platter!”  I know.  I know. So, I have to put in the time for that dream.

It’s not that I have a lousy job, anymore, no, no, no. I’m doing exactly what I love; photography. Granted, I don’t make very much money, but I’m optimistic that will change very soon.  You see, I work hard.  I work s-oo faithfully at it my career, I struggle with it and study it and squirm through some trials and a lot of errors with it.  And still, I’m not completely satisfied.  But~ release me from the computer and business management and money issues… N-o-w I can fly free with my camera in hand. Now, we’re talking. My Canon D7 has become my trusted friend. (Honestly, I’ve learned to trust my spirit to ‘guide my hand’ as I twirl the camera’s dials:)   Capturing the Spirit… of the Moment?  Hmf?  that could totally screw up my slogan.  I don’t need to delay my dream forever with little (and big) mistakes.

I will make a living doing what I love.  Bonus number #1 in my life is photography and my portrait photography is fulfilling that dream. I feel so blessed to have had so many beautiful people in front of my camera.  Oh, I could go on and on about the friends I have made through a simply photo session.  These people are amazing. Take Lila for instance. She’s has the most knockout red hair and green eyes within this face that can be photographed from any angle!  Now, that’s amazing!  And she never knew it.  It seems unbelievably to me that some of these people  don’t realize how special they are; in both beauty and soul. The laugh of a toddler, why  that twinkle in their eye is a sparkle from that child’s soul.  Lily, my little 19 month-old granddaughter, every time I see her smile, I smile too, and when she laughs, my god, talk about love!

The last few weeks have been busy for me.  Two weeks before Christmas, I got photo jobs one after another, although there were more freebies than paying clients.  I should be able to tell you exactly how much money I made from the accounting books, but I can’t, at this exact moment.  I wish I had a running tally of all the people I have photographed, damn, if I had a proficient office manager I could tell give that information right now, too.  Life can be such a fantasy to reality let-down for me.   Work. Work. Work.

If not editing photographs or determining the best way to spend my last dollar or creating marketing ideas and reading an occasional travel blog just to keep my dream alive, (plus a thousand and one other things) I am usually stuck among the chaos my in office. Last week I didn’t have one shoot scheduled.  I was discouraged, but continued to work day and night in the office.  I joined Twitter. I joined LinkedIn and other social networking sites.  Wow, now those take time.  I wrote more profiles, wondering why I couldn’t just cut and paste. I was asked to describe my first human memory for another social site.  What? What’s that about?  (So I wrote about my brother stealing my baby bottle when I was about 2 years old. No wonder I was a sick, skinny kid. Somehow I lost the post before I got to post it!)   It was all too damn time-consuming, as well as struggling through other office tasks, life hasn’t been very favorable lately. The daylight dwindles by slowly every day..except when I babysit Lily…

Last week I had her two full days!  It was heaven, even though I felt guilty that I wasn’t getting my new marketing projects completed.  So, I worked in my little cluttered office all weekend to make up for it.  Work. Work. Work.  No silver platter for me. My plan today was the usual, with a bit of twist.  I would get up, check my phone and email messages for any new jobs or leads, respond if needed, then go make a cup of coffee.   Soon after, get back to work on my projects for about four hours in the morning, then I planned on cleaning my bedroom.  I mean deep cleaning, ladies, vacuuming up the cobwebs in corners of the closets and pulling everything out from under the bed!  My moto of the day: creating a designated home for every item… and if there isn’t room or I don’t like it anymore… out it goes… donation or trash.  I like doing jobs that say, “Donna’s been here”  haha, I know a couple of men… another area where I shouldn’t linger.  Moving on…

My beautiful, 8-month along pregnant daughter left me a voice message that I listened to before I started anyting; “Mom, have you looked outside?”  It’s a fantastic day.  What are you doing?”  Pause as I explain my plan. “You need to get out of the house. Do you mind coming over for a few hours to stay with Lily so I can go out?”  Of course, I knew what she was up to.  But, I figured why not, just a few hours and I will have all evening to do ‘office work’.

I left the house and got inside my little, white Honda Civic.  My daughter was right, today was beautiful.  Picture perfect. Blue sky with little puffs of clouds floating by.  The air felt warm on my face.  The breeze was soft.   The heat was stifling as I unrolled the windows, trying not to inhale all those poisonous, cancerous gases expelled from the hot dashboard (or that’s what I’ve heard anyway).  I put it in reverse and backed down the driveway, carefully, so as not to scratch the landlord’s shiny, blue pick-up as I manuevered around it.

I love the drive to Angie’s home.  You have to drive up Kamehameha Hwy to get to her home on the windward side of the island in Ka’a’awa, Hawaii. The Ko’olau Mountain range is on your left side, standing tall with deep, vertical ridges covered in lush greenery. That mountain range is the reason it rains so much on this side of the island, holding the moisture over the mountains.  (There is a meteorologist explanation for this, but I don’t remember it.) The richness of the windward’s tropical environment is seen throughout the landscape, green lush golf course (Ko’olau,Golf Course, a public golf club in Kaneohe)  There are  bright-colored flowers everywhere. The trees have always been my favorite; palm trees and the African-looking trees and the rain-forest looking trees.  I guess if I am really going to blog I need to learn what these trees are named.

If you take a side trip down Ko’olouRd in Kaneohe, you’ll enter a beautiful b Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.   There are 400 acres of geographically laid out botanic garden with endangered and rare plants, network of trails to facilitate visitor enjoyment and a 32-acre lake (no swimming)  You should plan on spending some time, especially with your family and camera.  Again, take note, dear self, it would be good to have a few interesting facts about this place.  God, is this your first time blogging, girl?  I know, easy, peasy… let’s me link information to you, the reader:

The ocean today is relaxing, soft, low waves gently rolling in as I pass Kualoa Ranch.  Now, this place is great. I’ve been there a few times, but from this day forth I will have available, personal information… today a link: My daughter got married at this ranch, on the second terrace overlooking the ocean, two and half years ago.  I am so blessed to have her living only 20 minutes away with my little granddaughter… and of course, her sweet husband, too.  I count my blessing. Another five minutes up the road, the mountains on my left and the Pacific on my right I pass a local surf spot, the cars are lining the road, the surfers are either running into or out of the ocean with their boards or struggling to get them back onto the roofs of the cars… (girls bikini bottoms don’t cover much now-a- days, do they?  Damn, I sound like my mother.)  It’s obviously a good surfing day, is there some sort of an internal line to tell the troops where to rally for the good surf spots?  Must be.

Within minutes I arrive at my daughter’s place.  Lily runs towards me with a big smile.  She’s was helping her mommy in the backyard with nothing but a diaper on.  Oh, and she’s all lubed up… and so is my daughter.  Her tight, round belly carrying my soon-to-be born grandson is leaning downwards as she helps Lily rub in the sunscreen on her chubby little cheeks. Angie decided that since the waves are breaking so great, just minutes away, she could probably handle one more surf.  (She surfed Christmas day, too, and said that would the last until the baby is settled in.)  Obviously her passionate spirit equals mine, but I trust her level-headed decisions, as well.  Although I expressed my motherly concerns about the risks, about her baby, the what ifs and the you better be carefuls, I knew she wouldn’t take any unnecessary chances.  And she didn’t.  She laid low, paddled slowly on her knees, stayed away from the other surfers and caught only the gently, easy waves.  At least that’s what she told me!  Only kidding, I know her, she has wise decision-making skills.  (Why… I remember a few years back, she insisted I wear a helmet when I went down the white water rapids in California with her and her boyfriend as guides… and when I went over Devil’s Hole I understood why.)

Lily and I went to the beach.  We drove a little further up the highway, there was more traffic than usual because it was a Monday holiday (a holiday for employees just because New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday this year).  There wasn’t any parking at the Ka’a’awa Beach Park, (there’s only room for a few cars anyway near the restrooms) but there was no street parking across from the Ka’a’awa Elementary School.  I love it when I see a classroom of kids walk across the street with the teachers guiding them and then run into the ocean, screaming and splashing.  How much fun is that during or after school?  I drove another 2 minutes and found a parking spot within a few steps to the beach. It’s takes a bit of work to get the bag of beach toys, towels, mat, baby and camera bag loaded up with a precise strategy so nothing falls, especially Lily (she must weigh 30 lbs.)  Lily loves the ocean as much as I do.  Whenever I do sit here I wonder why don’t I do this every day?  This is so beautiful.  This is paradise.

Lily is filling her pail and I snap a few pictures before I pack away the camera so we can build a sandcastle. (Sand and cameras are not a good mix.) The time we spend together is precious to me.  I am so blessed to have this darling, little girl to love.  We played in the turquoise water.  She says so many words now and cold is one of them, which she concluded was the temperature of the ocean, but I thought it was refreshing as we splashed and kicked our feet.

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There was another family a short distance away. A local family with about five kids, ranging from pre-school to young adolescents, they were all playing together enjoying the last day of their Christmas school vacation. Another young family was on the other side of me.  A woman with three young children, two little boys about 4 and 5 and a sweet, little blond girl about 2 years-old.  Children are so uplifting to watch as they run and play and laugh.  Not a care in the world.  They are living in the moment.  There is nothing more that they would rather do than run and play and laugh. Their father had been out spear fishing near-by and brought in an octopus.  I walked over with Lily to look at his catch closer.  The father was showing his son where to place his fingers in the octopus’ head so he could hold it for me to take a picture.   The boys posed, standing proud as though they caught the octopus themselves.  They both gave me the shaka (which is a common hand motion in Hawaii; thumb and baby finger extended, all others tucked inside – it’s an aloha greeting and thank-you, too).

Wow, what’s that? I said to Lily.  The answer was: lunch, which their mother said is very good with a little flour batter and then fried. The kids seemed pretty excited about the catch, as well as lunch. I watched them put the fishing gear in the wagon, along with the bucket carrying the octopus, and the three kids skipping along heading down the beach to their home; their lunchtime.  All in the moment.  Passionate about life. Out in the ocean was a small, heavy-duty, blue plastic kayak just drifting before the  breaking waves, a person was stretched out enjoying the sunshine, the water, the moment. Passionate about life. I am living in paradise.

This is Bonus #2 right before my eyes.  I don’t have to dream about being a travel photographer ~ I am one.  All I had to do was stop dreaming, start living and my dream became my reality. My first day of the rest of life was today.  No more long office hours promoting and marketing and struggling.  Oh, I know I have to put in some hours, but now I have to focus on my real dream, which is my living life in the moment.  I am passionate about life. Today I took the next step and wrote this blog.  I can blog about every nook and cranny, and a lot of other things, too.  Hawaii has so much to tell you through my eyes and words.  I will capture Hawaii’s spirit in photographs and on my blogs.

This is my first assignment.  I’ll stay in paradise until my next destination arises.  Well, I could go on and on …  But, if I don’t get to bed, I won’t have any energy for tomorrow’s adventure, whatever it may be… I will share with you.  Aloha.

Thanksgiving Photo Update


Initially, I was going to start my email update with a traditional “count your blessings, blah, blah, blah” Thanksgiving message, but decided to just move on to my main subject(s), which are just a few of my blessings this past month.

I need a drum roll here, please…  the people I photographed the past few weeks are very important people to me, whether they know it or not.  They each came into my life for a specific reason…

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “of course they did, they wanted you to take their pictures.”  But, of course, I am going to read into this just a little deeper, just because I can.




The models this month were just so beautiful and diverse; Cierra, Victoria and Trezelle .  I needed to stay on my toes to capture their spirit because they were ready to move.  We moved up the mountainside, played on the beach, roamed in the woods and create some dramatic studio shots. The ladies were ready to role play, get into character and trusted me to capture their best side. Imagine if I put these three young women together for a group shoot… now that would be spectacular.  Hmmm, maybe I could arrange it.

I photographed a young, beautiful, passionate couple ~ twice.  The first shoot went from an office scene on the beach to a seduction on the shoreline.  Ahh, to be young and so much in love. They played, laughed and made me smile again and again as I walk down memory lane once or twice while trying to keep my thoughts on f stops and shutter speeds.

The girls (and their mother, too) brought me back to my teenage years and sibling fun.  They had the perfect combination of personalities to turn any photo session into a TV sitcom.  This woman is an amazing mom and her dedication to her daughters came through in these touching images, which I am sure she will treasure even more as the years pass by.

The young children were all adorable with their new pug puppy as they gathered into my studio each wanting to be first.  A group shoot resolved that little hiccup. I think Hawaii has some very talented children blossoming right before my eyes.  The sound of children giggling and laughing is one that stays with you for a long time.

Love definitely has strong, firm roots in the family gathering I photographed.  It was exactly how I imagine all siblings should love each other as adults, everyone interacting as one loving unit with the most caring, loving parents any children could hope for.  It made me a bit homesick, but they shared their love with me, as well as some very delicious Hawaiian food!

The photo session I had with the beautiful, young hula girls brought my body and soul completely back to Hawaii. Their spirit and passion in dancing to their traditional songs is yet another love I was honored to capture.

My granddaughter is developing her own little personality as she’s reached her 6 month-old threshold.  Oh, I get to photograph her as often as I like; the only problem is I tend to put down my camera to just play.  At Thanksgiving, she was enjoyed by all, especially the grandparents.  Loving a grandchild is a very special blessing to me… speaking of which…

Don’t forget to count your blessings!   And send me an update whenever you have time, I would love to hear from you.

Donna Welch