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Hawaii on film

Aloha, friends!

If you know me- you know I am obsessed with the Hawaiian Islands. That salty air, the pacific ocean breeze, the blue water, lush mountains, tropical flowers and palm trees. It’s quite literally my heaven on earth. I LOVE Hawaii.

The Hawaiian islands etched a special place in my heart and have left a lasting impact on my soul. I moved to Hawaii at the ripe ol’ age of 17 to attend my first year of University. I was born and raised in a small town and for a long time I never thought I’d leave. So the decision to pack up two suitcases and fly to an island in the middle of the ocean far away from family and friends was not something I had ever dreamt for myself. However that decision was one of the biggest blessings of my life. I attended University on the north shore of Oahu. We were away from Honolulu and it had a very quiet, calm, country vibe.

My cousin, Mary, was accepted into the same school, so we decided to be roommates. Growing up we actually didn’t know each other that well, so it was still essentially like I was roommates with a stranger. However she is amazing and we instantly became the best of friends. We shared a tiny dorm room together (even though it was tiny, it was actually one of the bigger rooms on campus) and we shared so many good laughs and memories from those dorms that I will ALWAYS cherish.

I took my studies very seriously (anyone else here a high school nerd?) and so my motto was to study hard during the week, but play hard on the weekends. My weeks were full of classes, homework, studying, writing papers, and going to tutors. But my weekends. OH the weekends. They were the BEST.

Me and Mary became super close friends with Rachel and Saydi- they lived in the dorm room right across the hall from us. The 4 of us would go adventure together every weekend and it was amazing. We drove all across the island. Different beaches, a million different hikes, so many food trucks, restaurants, shaved ice… you name it. I was always the one in our group who had the camera. Documenting memories was so important to me as I never wanted to forget these incredible experiences I was having. This experience really changed my perspective on the value and importance of documenting moments. Images are essentially a journal of your life. This is so much of my WHY as a professional photographer. WHY do I do what I do? I document moments that turn into tangible memories for my clients.

When I was living in Hawaii I had always wished I had a “nice camera” to take photos with. All I had was a sony point and shoot (but it actually rendered really beautiful, vibrant colors and I loved that thing). So once I got into photography and had professional gear I always took it with me on my trips back to the island so I could document my time in a more visually artistic way.

One of my photography goals back in 2018 was to learn film. If you were to take a look at a list of my favorite photographers you would notice a common theme- they are all film shooters. I have always been drawn to the tones, colors and aesthetics of film photography that I decided- why don’t I learn how to shoot this myself? If I love it so much I should incorporate it into my work! I put it off for so long because it seemed to complicated and too overwhelming. How do you load film into your camera? Where do you develop it? What do you mean I can’t look at the back of my camera to double check that my image looks good? These were all barriers to me starting my journey with film.

My mom knew of my interest in shooting film so she bought me my first film camera, which was a Nikon F100. It’s a 35mm film camera and I can use all the same lenses that I use on my digital camera. After she bought me this camera it sat on the shelf for almost 2 years. Then one day I was on instagram and saw Julie Paisley doing an instagram live talking about her new online film course called “Shooting Film Without Fear.” I freaking love Julie Paisley and immediately enrolled for the course.

This course came out at the perfect time because I had a trip to Maui planned so I finally had the courage to pick my Nikon F100 up off the shelf, wipe off the dust, and go shoot the dang thing. I blasted my way through all the online modules so that I could shoot my FIRST ROLLS of film in HAWAII!

I thought Hawaii would be the PERFECT place to begin my film journey. The tropical colors of Hawaii look so good on film. I had SO much fun playing around with different film stocks and when I shipped my rolls to the Find Lab to be developed I was like a giddy little girl. Anyone who shoots film knows this feeling. You have delayed gratification because with film you can’t just look at the back of the camera. You have to wait until you get your scans back from the lab. So there is this built up excitement and anticipation to see your images.

Y’all! When these images hit my inbox I think I squealed. I was so excited! None of these images are edited. This is just what film looks like. I used the film stocks: Fuji 400H, Portra 160 and Portra 800. I love the delicate, soft tones that Fuji 400H captured- while I absolutely adore the punchy, vibrant color of Portra 160 and 800. For those of you interested or learning film- I rated my Fuji 400H at 100, Portra 160 at 100 and Portra 800 at 400.

Now when I travel I want to ditch my digital camera and just bring film. Shooting film makes you very present and aware of your surroundings. I felt like I was more focused on what I was doing vs. caught up in checking my digital settings and overshooting. With film, every image you take counts (and costs!). So you obviously shoot WAY less. It also saves me time because like I said- I didn’t have to edit any of these images.

I will forever be obsessed with film. Slowly but surely I have incorporated it into my client work. I still shoot primarily digital but hope to include it more and more in my professional work. So stay tuned. I don’t know if anyone else feels this way- but I feel like film images almost look like a painting- the colors, the softness, the depth, the grain- it’s almost like the images have texture to them. Film is just so beautiful and I am so drawn to its aesthetic.

These images were all on a trip I took with my parents and brother in Maui. My husband kept my babe, Parker at home so I could have some kid-free time and self care in Hawaii with my family. I sure missed Tom and Parker but was grateful for the opportunity to recharge. Motherhood is beautiful and all consuming at the same time. I am so grateful to have such a loving and supportive husband who sacrificed a trip to Hawaii and stayed home with our young son so I could have a break. I am truly blessed. What a gem.

Since I lived on Oahu my heart always wants to go there to visit, but I also tell myself I need to explore the other islands. So I’ve been to Oahu, The Big Island, Kauai and Maui. Maui is my parents favorite so whenever they go, they always chose Maui. I also love it there. Maui is so diverse and has so much to offer.

My favorite beaches in Maui are Wailea Beach, Big Beach (Makena), Kaanapali Beach, Honokōwai Beach, D.T. Fleming, and Baldwin Beach. Iao Valley State Park is also stunning. We went there and just read a book and enjoyed the tranquility of our surroundings. Whenever we are in Maui we also go to the lavender farm because well… it’s a lavender farm. Pretty self explanatory. The Road to Hana is obviously a MUST. It’s beautiful. Make sure whoever is driving is…. brave. I lasted maybe 5 minutes then made my mom drive the rest of the way. I was also car sick a majority of the time but all the beautiful views and excursions made up for it. We stopped at SO many waterfalls (my mamas favorite), got amazing banana bread, hung out at the black sand beach + Hamoa Beach, and got fresh coconuts at Huelo Lookout.

Also if you are a hiker- you HAVE to do Waihee Ridge Trail while you are in Maui. It is one of my favorite Hawaiian hikes that I have ever done. When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my son Parker me and my hubby went to Maui and we did this hike together. It’s truly breath taking.

“Note to self: Take photographs on your trips. Please, please, take photographs on your trips. Take photographs of all the things you do not want to forget. But also take photographs of the things that are too easy to forget. Take photographs of the place where morning light gets in. Take photographs of the things on your desk, the books you’ve read. Take photographs of trees and people you have come to love. You just never know what these photographs will mean to you later. You just never know what these photographs will mean to you later.” – Morgan Harper Nichols

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