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  • Jana + Stephen | Hawaii Wedding Photographer | Ko Olina Resort

    Jana and Stephen's wedding was beautiful, love-filled, intimate, and completely their own. I loved how they created a day that celebrated their love and their unique personalities. They did everything together, from planning to dress shopping to getting ready. It was the first time I saw the groom helping the bride into her dress and it was so fun and really special.

    The weather was bright and perfect for their Sunday morning wedding so we took advantage of the beautiful Ihilani Hotel and beach. It's strange to think that this Ko Olina resort is now closed and Jana and Stephen's was one of the last weddings there, ever. Bright, midday portraits can be challenging, but we made it work. They are a lot easier when your subjects are having the best day ever. :)

    Jana and Stephen have a fun and playful relationship and they wanted their day documented naturally, without too many posed portraits. I was so honored to be there to capture the moments of their special day. I have many favorite shots, but I really love the one of them walking out of the gazebo after saying "I do." Holding hands, Jana is beaming and looks likes she's saying, "Yeah!" and Stephen is throwing a shaka and smiling so big his eyes are closed. Totally happy, totally in love.

    Thank you to these wonderful vendors!

    Hair + Makeup: Leslie Fair

    Bouquet + Cake flowers: Watanabe Floral

    Cake: A Cake Life

    Centerpieces: Paiko

  • Chubby's Last Kuliouou Summit

    Over the weekend we took Chubby on the Kuliouou Ridge trail. I was clearly hurting more than he was, but I know the stairs at the top are hard on his arthritic paws. He smiled the whole time and I know he'd never stop on his own unless he was physically unable. I got sad thinking about him getting older, but I decided we should stick to more mellow trails so he doesn't hurt himself.

    I wish the state would reopen Mariner's Ridge. That was our favorite mid-length trail because it was the shortest of the ridges leading to the top of the Ko'olau, and also the easiest on his joints. We've tried Hawaii Loa and Wiliwili Nui, but he gets stuck at areas that are too steep and require ropes, and he's too heavy for me to boost. We haven't made it to the end of Wa'ahila or Lanipo because I worry that they are too rough on him as well.

    I took a bunch of phone photos when I realized this would be his last summit. He's in all of them, hiding in some more than others. See if you can spy him. :)

    xoxo.

    Shot and edited on my iPhone 5.

  • Swimming with sharks

    A couple months ago Samantha and John Hook invited me to go diving with sharks...sans cage. I immediately accepted without thinking that it was a day and a half away and I didn't have a mask or snorkel or fins - necessary tools for seeing and fleeing. I was more excited than scared, probably because I didn't have time to psych myself out.

    Juan Oliphant and Ocean Ramsey of One Ocean Diving took us 3 miles off the coast where they regularly visit a large group of sharks. They have names for most of the sharks, but right now I only remember "Bully." He had scars on his head. During the ride out, Juan told us about the work he and Ocean do to raise awareness about sharks and help to end the shark cull. I remember them saying, sharks are like puppies. They're curious and playful so they will come right up to you and check you out. But like puppies, they can get riled up, so just remain calm. This was great advice, because I LOVE puppies. Who doesn't love puppies? As strange as it sounds, hearing this actually altered my perception of sharks. (Yes, I am easily swayed once puppies enter the equation.)

    I refuse to watch shark films because I love surfing and playing in the ocean, and I'm afraid those films will keep me out of the water. If you want me to leave a room, play Jaws. It's disappointing that sharks are regularly portrayed as aggressive man-eating monsters. Being in the water with these beautiful creatures - lots of them - made me feel much more at ease. I learned that sharks don't like eye contact, so if they get closer than you like, look them in the eye and they will swim away. Although I'm sure I will still be nervous if I'm alone in the water with a large shark, I have a better understanding and appreciation of them now.

    John generously let me borrow his camera and water housing for this adventure. Thank you, John! And thanks to Ocean Ramsey for capturing a few of these shots, including the ones of me/my legs.

    This lone fish was hilarious. I think he was trying to find protection from the sharks. He was probably the most frightening thing out there because he kept popping up right next to our faces.

    I tried to take an underwater shot of Sam and John. We didn't specify the depth. It turned out...funny.

    Today is the Hooks' anniversary! Happy love day to you two awesome people. Thanks for inviting me on this adventure! And thanks for letting me crash your anniversary surf this morning. :)

  • Night Surfing

    A couple weeks ago Tommy and John invited me to join a night photo shoot with a few of their friends. I was excited but had no idea what to expect given Tommy’s vague instructions to meet at 8:30 at Sandy’s, or Waikiki if it rained.

    I parked at the zoo, wandered down the pier next to Walls, and scoped out the groups of people in the dim light. I scanned the beach for familiar faces but found none. By this time people were starting to stare at me - this solo girl with a backpack roaming the pier in the dark - and I realized I looked like Waikiki’s most unlikely drug dealer.

    The gang showed up with loads of gear, lighting and tripods. John jumped in the water with a board, Zak and Elliott followed with dive lights and water housings, and I hung out on the pier with Tommy, John’s wife Samantha, and Kyle. I helped Tommy with lighting then attempted a few shots of my own. John had to surf along the wall in order to stay on the wave...it looked pretty terrifying, especially for a goofy footer. Post-surf, the fun continued with flour, flashes and astronaut helmets. It was difficult shooting in the dark sans tripod and flash, but I learned how to use bulb mode to take advantage of someone else’s flash. Amazing!

    My shots aren’t great but it was a fun night worth sharing. I’m excited to practice new techniques so next time I’ll be able to capture astronauts rocketing into space and volcano-mouth flour explosions. I'm bummed I missed the latter shot, and more disappointed that no one recorded the aftermath. It would have been the perfect "kids, don't try this at home" ad...directed at kids like John.

    Check out my talented friends at Tommy Shih fashion photography and John Hook wedding photography.