I've been busy just trying to keep up with shooting and editing and haven't posted in over 4 months, my longest break ever. I also stopped writing about weddings and shoots and decided to post photos only, purely for the sake of keeping up with my workflow.
I'm making an exception for a very special couple. I've been putting off this post because I really don't know what to say. I get extremely emotional talking about Aly and Austin, whom I got to know last June when we met for coffee and later that month we had so much fun while shooting their engagement photos. They are both teachers (I love educators, my mom was one) and the sweetest, most adorable couple who are clearly so in love.
I'd love to simply showcase their photos and have their smiles, kisses and laughs tell the whole story, but I know they can use help. Aly has stage 4 stomach cancer, and when we met last year it was "under control" but in the last few months it has gotten much worse. I met with them a couple weeks ago at the hospital to go over timeline details and things were not looking good. I broke down after I left. I was so happy to see Aly looking gorgeous at their rehearsal earlier this week with Austin wheeling her around. She is determined to walk down the aisle with her dad at their wedding tomorrow, and I'm so honored to be there to capture it.
Learn more about Aly's story (she already beat a different cancer as a child) and donate to her fund here: Kicking Cancer's Butt
When Cat contacted me and told me that she and her fiance, Jason, were interested in doing an engagement shoot incorporating their self-taught acroyoga poses, I thought, oh that sounds cool. Then she sent me a few photos as examples of their poses and I was like, WHOA.
Cat and Jason brought so much fun-loving energy to their engagement shoot. At the beginning, before we even really got started, Jason decided they should try the lift pose from the end of Dirty Dancing. They had never tried it before, but he was confident and after a half-second of convincing, Cat was all in. It only took a couple of hilarious and adorable tries before they nailed it, smiling and laughing the whole time.
I wasn't surprised when I found out that they are both physical therapists - these two take fitness and health to another level. They moved to Oahu together from California a year and a half ago, and earlier this year Jason proposed while they hiked out of Kalalau Valley along Kaua'i's insanely gorgeous Na Pali Coast. That hike has been on my bucket list since before I knew what a bucket list was. Cat was completely surprised and beyond ecstatic, and it turned their rain-soaked, semi-disastrous adventure into one that they'll remember forever.
I love being around people who are so in love with the islands. Cat and Jason say that moving to Hawaii was the best decision they've made, and they embrace everything it has to offer. Sometimes people who have lived here for a long time lose their appreciation for the island lifestyle, or even resent it. Sure, living in Hawaii comes with *many* challenges, but I LOVE living here and I do my best not to take that for granted. Cat and Jason's outlook and attitude were so refreshing. I can tell they are in for a lifetime of adventure and love.
I have a special place in my heart for people with backyard farms. Partly because I love animals, partly because I spent a summer interning at a guava farm on Kaua'i (I'll save that story for another day), partly because I would love to have a backyard farm of my own, and mostly because I know how much energy and love is required to maintain a farm, even a mini one.
Naturally, I was very excited when I found out Ke'ala and Danny had a backyard farm. And of course I asked if they wanted to incorporate their animals into our shoot. Ke'ala jumped on the idea. Yay! To top it off, their farm (and home) is across the street from a gorgeous beach. So j.
We originally planned a late afternoon/sunset shoot to capitalize on golden hour light. But the day before I suggested we do a sunrise shoot...because with the right conditions, sunrise in Hau'ula is unreal. This meant I had to leave my house at 4:45 am...and I am not a morning person. I'm so glad we changed the plan because we lucked out with an incredible sunrise.
After basking in the soft morning light, we walked across the street to Ke'ala and Danny's lovely home and I got to meet their animals. Their chickens - Happy Feet, Honey Biscuit, Snow White, and Mary - are beautiful. I don't think I've ever called a chicken "beautiful" before, but these were the most healthy, clean, and fluffy hens I'd ever seen. I learned that with certain breeds you don't immediately know if you have a male or female. Sadly, I didn't get to meet their other chicken, Princess Buttercup, because she turned out to be a rooster and they had to give her/him away because he was too loud. :(
Ke'ala and Danny have so much love for each other and for their animals. It baffles me that they both work demanding, full-time jobs - Ke'ala as a nurse and Danny as an engineer - and they still prioritize time for their animals and plants, and for activities together like diving and paddle boarding. You two amaze me!
One thing I learned about sunrise shoots is that there's a window of soft, beautiful light that lasts for about 30 minutes. Then it is BRIGHT. Like super bright. We made it work at Kualoa, but I felt bad because Ke'ala and Danny had a hard time looking *anywhere* without squinting. I could barely see the screen on my camera. Lucky for me, these two are so natural and beautiful that the harsh light didn't detract from their photos at all.
I recommended this location to Adi and Peter because I'd been wanting to do a shoot there and figured I may as well use them, my dear friends, as guinea pigs. :) As we walked on the cracked earth through tall grass, hopping over centipedes (ok, one centipede, but still), Peter reminded me that I had in fact done a photo shoot there. I can't believe I forgot.
Peter was one of my very first "models." In high school I convinced him and our friend Franklin to wake up crazy early and trek to this exact location for a sunrise photo shoot. With surfboards. Even though there was no surf there. They were great sports and I'm pretty sure I paid them in McDonald's breakfast and large matted prints. I need to find those prints. I remember dodging and burning the hell out of them to get an actual circle of the sun. Hah. Darkroom HDR. Fortunately, my editing style has changed since then. I have such fond memories of hours and hours spent in my high school darkroom.
Peter reminding me of that shoot made me nostalgic and all of a sudden I was like, holy cow Peter is getting married. We're old.
I hadn't been to this location in years and I didn't know what to expect. The scenery was even more interesting and varied than I remember, which made for a stunning backdrop. It was African Savanna meets desert island. All the good stuff.
Adi and Peter were so much fun to shoot. I love shooting friends because it is inevitably hilarious. When I shoot strangers it takes a little while for them to get comfortable with me and eventually they relax and forget that I'm there. That's the goal. When I shoot friends it's a different story because they are very aware that I am there and they are very aware that it's ME telling them to kiss and be lovey dovey so I can document their kissing and lovey dovey-ness. It's always awkward and funny. Then they loosen up, and it's usually even more hilarious.
Adi looked gorgeous. I liked how Peter kept trying to give her posing advice because he had "so much experience as a child model" (which he repeated several times throughout the shoot), when Adi was clearly the model of the pair. I especially loved Adi's flowy navy dress, perhaps because I know it's her favorite color and one of the colors at their upcoming wedding. I can't wait to celebrate with these two wonderful friends of mine.
Marisa and Kevin are just too cute. I had so much fun getting to know them, following them around with my camera, and telling them to do ridiculous things like climb large boulders in a dress and look directly at the sun. (The latter was a miscommunication.)
Marisa and Kevin were two years apart at the same high school but didn’t officially meet until college. While Marisa changed outfits Kevin told me that although they were friends for years before dating, he always thought of her as more. They recently moved home from California after taking a month off to travel around the west coast...my kind of people!
L-4-Love is coordinating their wedding next spring at the gorgeous Halekulani in Waikiki. I can tell through their interaction and the way they look at each other that they are madly in love and I know it's going to be a beautiful celebration.
As they walked to the other side of the cove, Kevin suddenly dropped to the ground and started doing push-ups! I think he was warming up for the shoot. Marisa decided to help.
Apparently the push-ups worked because the next thing I knew, he was racing up the rocks. Too funny.
They were a significant distance away and I told Kevin to take his phone in case we needed to communicate. Charades worked for certain directions, but I decided to send a text when they were sitting and Kevin was in the sun but Marisa's face was shaded. My text read: "Both your faces in the sun" They read it, looked a little puzzled, and then all of a sudden they were squinting looking directly into the sun. I yelled, "Nooo!" thinking oh no, they're going to blind themselves for this bad photo. I texted again: "Haha sorry I didn't mean look into the sun, just be aware if your face is shaded :)" At least we all laughed. Sorry, you two. I was trying to be brief, but those were terrible directions.
We relocated to Sandy's and instead of eyeing the ocean or scenic coastline, the first thing they saw was a sand pit. And of course they hopped in. Marisa and Kevin, if you two can have that much fun in a sand pit, I have no doubt that you will keep each other entertained for life. :)
Last July, Jake tricked Chessa into thinking she was going on a sympathy hike to take his mind off of a bad toothache. They hiked up to the Makapuu lighthouse and wandered off on a side trail to have a romantic picnic dinner. As the sun set, Jake suggested that Chessa take a panoramic photo on her new phone. She started on her left and as she panned to the right she found him down on one knee reciting a speech she can’t recall because she was too excited. She couldn’t wait for him to stop talking so she could say YES!
Jake claims he's camera shy but it didn’t take long for his goofy side to shine through. It was sweet watching Chessa relax Jake in front of the camera and fun watching Jake surprise Chessa for some authentic laughs. These two have wonderful chemistry - you can't go wrong with humor and sweet dance moves.
Chessa grew up in Kona, and Jake in Kula. They are planning their autumn wedding at Kahua Ranch on the Big Island, blending Chessa’s island home with Jake’s upcountry upbringing. I've heard Kahua is breathtaking and it will be the perfect setting for this stunning couple.
I was thrilled to shoot engagement photos for my very dear friend, Valerie, and her fiance David. I’ve known both of them longer than they’ve known each other and it’s been fun to watch their relationship grow over the 7 years that they've been together, culminating in David’s adorable proposal in front of Valerie’s entire 4th grade class!
I am honored to be one of Valerie’s bridesmaids and I cannot wait to see these two tie the knot in August. Our friend and wedding planner extraordinaire Lauren Smith of L-4-Love is planning the soiree at two historic Honolulu locations and I'm excited to see it all come together.
Check out this beautiful couple that I’m lucky to call my friends.