Valentine’s Day Gift ~ in Hawaii

From five… until ninety-five…

nothing is more powerful than love.

We share our love daily, but there is one day set apart from all the others; Valentine’s Day.  This is the day when roses are overpriced and chocolates add pounds to thousands of women on weight control programs. (Unless, of course, you’re five or ninety-five.)  But, for all of us in-between, there is a present that says, “I love you”, that will be cherished forever.  A Valentine’s Day present that will always make you smile, won’t have you worrying about your waistline, one that you can share with each other, display for others to enjoy… a gift that only you can give.

This is priceless, but fortunately, at an affordable price that won’t destroy your budget.

All you need to do is call (808-699-4330), schedule an appointment, and leave the rest to me; your photographer.

After we talk about the details (usually over a cup of coffee, prior to the session date), I may go into my prop room to pack some things that will enhance your session; it may be something as simple as a book of love poems, a rose, an umbrella to kiss beneath, a gown to wear into the ocean or champagne glasses to toast before the sunset.  Sometimes a man’s white collar shirt is as sexy on the woman as it is on the man (let’s add some suspenders, too).

We will talk about which time of daylight will work best for you; the morning sunshine or the golden glow of the sunset.  Do you want the ocean as a backdrop and playground or would you rather walk in the woods to let the shadows play upon your bodies?  Do you to want photos that you can share with your friends and family?  How about some that are a bit sexier to place on your bedside table or in your wallet?

So many people claim they are not photogenic. Boloney!  Everyone, regardless of age, size or personality can have fantastic photographs. (But, I can understand this fear of looking terrible in a photo.  I was one of those people for years, whenever anyone pointed a camera at me I would grimace or fake a smile, both unattractive expressions.)

It wasn’t until I became a photographer myself (safe behind the camera) that I learned the best photographs are captured by a professional.  A snapshot taken by Uncle Ted or your sister may not show your best features, your best angle, the best lighting, the best poses and best spirit.  You have to trust the photographer to place you in the best light, possibly to use props and especially to create an atmosphere of fun while relaxing, enjoying the moment.  Allow me the pleasure of setting the stage for romance (and you may even forget there is a camera pointing at you).

Directing a shoot is great fun for me, I can have you role-play a scene or simply suggest moving your arm a little to the right or placing your lips close to one another but not quiet touching.

I want this to be a fun, exciting activity for you, so leave the photography to me.  My enthusiasm and passion is contagious and our energy will naturally flow, even the most camera-shy people will find themselves letting their spirit shine through… and that is exactly what I want.  To Capture the Spirit… of the Moment.

The state of being ‘in love’ is one of the best times of your life, it is like nothing else. It fills your heart with joy to dream of the days ahead.  Let me capture this spirit in photographs.

But, having love that has been tested through the trials of time; this is the golden love, this is the best love. Let me capture these moments.

This year do something very special… come before my camera and bring home a Valentine’s Day package with hundreds of photos that you will cherish forever.

Gift certificates are available in sweet Valentine’s Day cards, tied with a red ribbon, a rose and a chocolate that can be placed in your sweetheart’s hands.  Ordering on-line is available. Contact me through my website: http://www.donnawelchphotography.com.

You will “wow” the special person in your life with your romantic gift.

Here is a slide show of some of the couples I have photographed…   Each couple was so different in front of my camera, yet they all share the special gift of love.  To me, there is nothing sweeter than couples in love.

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© Donna Welch Photography, 2011/2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Donna Welch Photography with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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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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Mai Tai in Waikiki

The Mai Tai Bar in Waikiki is located on the top-level of the Ala Moana Mall. www.maitaibar.com  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).  www.sephora.com

 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.

House guests in Hawaii ~ don’t stay in the house!

The housework was complete, the sheets on the beds were crisp and clean, the refrigerator is stocked with healthy food and the gas tank was filled before I headed to the airport to pick up guests from the mainland.  They are the family of a very dear friend of mine, which is why I went beyond the call of duty to help with all the preparations. I wanted to make sure their vacation in Hawaii is one they’ll always remember.

Coming to Hawaii for the first time is very impressive, especially if you’re coming from the cold state of Michigan.  Brr-r-r.  They were happy to feel warm sunshine on their skin and pull out the shorts and sundresses from their suitcases.

I played the tour guide all week and honestly it was a pleasure to revisit some of my favorite spots on Oahu. It seems as though I’m so busy working, I don’t get out to enjoy Hawaii as a tourist anymore!  To simply relax while breathing in the beauty rather than hurrying past on my way here or there while mentally writing my grocery list for this or that is the norm for me these days.  This week I was ‘on vacation’, well as much as possible, while being a hostess, tour guide, cook and servant, too.  Oh, don’t think I’m complaining.  I’m not.  I had a great week.  It was my intention to provide a wonderful vacation for them and I’m happy that I succeeded, while getting in some relaxing time (and a little photography time, too).

Of course, turning three adults into photographers for the week helped achieved my goal.  Putting a camera into someone’s hand with instructions on how to use it on the manual setting opens up many possibilities. They begin to look at the world a little closer with the zoom lens while holding the view in focus as they tried and tried again to keep the horizon straight. (A tough one for me, too!)

We stayed at one place three or four times longer than normal as they listened about camera techniques and basic skills, eager to learn, excited to have a photographer to coach them.

I relaxed as they snapped.

Learning anything new is exciting and motivating and photography is the ultimate subject… with subjects to capture in any style your imagination can conjure up.  Photography is limitless. Well, at least it is for me… a passionate photographer that prefers being with a camera more than anything else (well, almost anything). 

They were here for the Martin Luther King, Jr. festival, although we just caught the end of the performers on stage in Kapiolani Park at the clamshell there were still quite a few people enjoying the event. The vendors were wrapping up their wares, but we still had time to shop around.performer at Martin Luther King, Jr. festival in Honolulu at the Waikiki clamshell on January 16, 2012.

We took photographs and listened to the surf at Koa’lua Beach, Kailua and Lanikai Beach (no surf there), Waikiki Beach (it was in the evening) and Waimanalo Beach (playing on our boogie boards there).  The waves at Turtle Bay were great for our model shoots and we loved eating sushi and snacks by Sharks Cove at the North Shore.  Oh, playing on the rocks at Eternity Beach taught them a good lesson about ‘turning your back on the ocean’:  not a wise thing to do.  You might get soaked, or worst yet, get pulled into the raging sea below. Safety is a must if you want to live for another day of adventure. (She luckily just got soaked!)

             The Makapu’u Lighthouse hike was absolutely beautiful. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can was repeated several times as we neared the ¾ point.  There was no turning back.  We’re going all the way, baby.  One of the guests seemed to be a bit dare-devilish as she scaled a rock ledge-jetting out over the ocean.  It was great to see her confidence rise but it wouldn’t have been so great to see her plunging to the ocean far below.  In my younger days, I would have been right there, too, but I’ve become wiser in my ‘old age’.

Although, I am convinced that hand guiding looks absolutely thrilling to me… someday, I will try it.  How do you get it to land exactly where you want it?  Not against a rock cliff or in the ocean?? I’ll need to look into the requirements before I set off soaring through the sky with the birds.

Spending an evening browsing around Waikiki’s International Marketplace for souvenirs was interesting.  So many people crowding the streets, watching the street performers (musicians, artists, mimes and vocalists) with caps or suitcases placed before them collecting dollar bills from the tourists.  Waikiki has it all, shopping galore with all the high-end stores tempting you with the latest fashion in clothing, bags, shoes and jewelry, as well as a lot of stuff you’ll donate to your local charity within a year.  How many bright, colorful aloha shirts do you wear in Pittsburg, PA?  And the cute, little hula doll playing a ukulele and swinging her hips is just another item to sit and collect dust along with your finer collection.

Of course, you’ll love the photographs you can frame and hang all around your home as souvenirs, especially if you have a photographer telling you how to set your shutter and aperture speeds. Believe me, this is the perfect souvenir of Hawaii!

If you’re looking for action; hot surf instructors, skimpy bikinis and lots of bodies sunbathing on the beach, you’ll love Waikiki during the day.  In the evenings, the restaurants, the nightclubs and just people watching on the streets will keep you from getting bored. There is a wide assortment of faces; a melting pot of tourists mingling together as they savor a vacation in Hawaii.

   

  Round Top Drive is a hairpin turning road leading to Puu Ualakaa State Park with breathtaking views of Honolulu from the Diamond Head Crater to Pearl Harbor.  The old-growth trees are fantastic (I’m a tree-hugger and lover). The cactus are the tallest I’ve ever seen, easily competing with the trees.   This is another perfect picnic spot or to enjoy a hike on a marked trail or simply to relax and enjoy the view.  Do take a few minutes to capture this scene for the record.

        

The Valley of the Temples in Kaneohe, just 35 minutes from Waikiki, is impressive with the Buddhist monastery set upon magnificent grounds at the base of Ko’olua Mountains.  We spent much longer than planned here; my guests just couldn’t stop taking photographs. (Yes, it is addictive.)  A local man took the time to give us some inside knowledge about the kukui nut tree.  Did you know before electricity, the kukui nut oil is used to light the evenings on the island?  The nuts are polished and used for leis and its oil is superb for your skin. No wonder its Hawaii’s state tree.  Did I mention the koi fish are as plentiful as they are colorful?  They originated from Japan (a mixture of carps created the koi) and the meaning of these fish is beauty and serenity.  That is exactly how I felt watching them with the black swans swimming above them.  Do swans eat koi?  That wouldn’t be so pretty, to watch, now would it?

     

Of course, the Dole Plantation was a quick stop with a couple of my guests enjoying a dish of pineapple ice while I took photos here and there, planning on my own dish before I left.  The plantation also offers the world’s largest maze, but I wasn’t about to get lost in there before I had my treat.  Be aware they close the market exactly at 5:00 pm, so don’t wait until the last minute.  The door was locked and my tongue was dragging for the famous pineapple ice cream.  Darn.   Do you know how many mainlanders do not know how pineapples grow?  From a tree?  Beneath the ground?  Nope. Not at all.  All 21 varieties grow top side up from the strong, narrow leaves surrounding its base. A week is not long enough to enjoy paradise, especially when you need time to have a birthday party, eating and doing laundry, too. There are so many places and activities we didn’t have time to enjoy, they’ll need to return.

Oh, I didn’t mention the waterfall stop off the Pali Hwy:  just breathtaking with sunlight shining through the banyan trees.   

Next year they’ll be coming again and I’ll plan a new set of adventures to fill them with the aloha spirit.

Oh, we certainly had time for a ‘modeling’ photo shoot at Turtle Bay.  It was the highlight of the trip, as it should be an activity for every tourist visiting Hawaii.  A photo shoot is empowering.  You have the opportunity to stand proud and confident (and sexy and seductive, too) with a backdrop of paradise behind you.

        

These are not just photographs… these are works of art that will inspire you… frame them and hang them.  You’ll smile and feel beautiful every time you pass ‘your masterpieces’.

The sunsets were gorgeous and they met a sea turtle, which seemed bigger than life itself!  I think they will remember their week in Hawaii.

  

Aloha from Hawaii.

Thanksgiving Photo Update

Aloha,

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
808-699-4330