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  • Sunrise Beach & Farm Engagement Shoot | Hau'ula, Hawaii

    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. :(

    Their pups Nalu and Bebe (Bebe is short for Barbara Bush, she came to them pre-named HAH) were absolutely hilarious fighting over a small planter box. They had so much energy we couldn't quite pin them down for a family photo, but the action shots are priceless.

    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!

    We were about to leave for Kualoa to finish our shoot when Danny asked if I'd seen Sunny. I said, "who's Sunny?" This is Sunny! Obviously we had to have a Sunny photo shoot. Most adorable baby tortoise ever.

    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.