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.
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.