Waimanalo Beach, Hawaii
I got to know Melissa because we both volunteered in the church nursery with all those huggable babies that makes your heart melt. Her oldest son, “Iz”, had just graduated to the toddler class when I started volunteering but I was there when she started bringing her youngest boy, “E.” The other nursery workers and I used to fight over who got to carry him the whole time, all of us leaping to our feet and rushing the door when we saw Melissa bringing him. He was so mellow and when he was too young to crawl amongst the squabble of other babies, he languished in a bouncy chair charming the girls with his sweet smile and that one lock curling mischievously down his forehead.
The boys have grown and the family is undergoing some huge changes. This island family with their beach-loving boys are picking up roots and moving to the big state of Texas. Melissa and I planned for a family photo shoot on the beach to take advantage of their last few days in tropical beauty and Melissa had told me her two boys are beach babies. Her husband, Pono, was up in Texas already preparing for their move and one of the things they were hoping to find were alternatives to the Pacific Ocean so the boys could continue with their love of water. We scheduled the beach photos so Pono would be home in time and Melissa wanted to include Pono’s sister and mother for photos of the whole family. Unfortunately, life kept throwing up little speed bumps and we found out that Pono could not make it home for pictures and would have to stay in Texas until the rest of the family could meet him there after the big move. Even I was bummed to hear he wouldn’t be back for photos but it takes a lot more than that to damper Melissa’s positive outlook on everything.
We had a great afternoon playing on the white sandy beach in Waimanalo. The family wore matching aloha attire and the deep reds popped against the blue of the ocean and dark green and purples of the mountain range. The boys were so loving and energetic. They would race across the sand at lightning speed, pause when they saw their mom, throw their arms around her and give her a huge hug, and then speed off again. I had talked with Melissa prior to this session and I know one of her concerns was that we wouldn’t be able to get pictures of the boys (especially “E”) looking at the camera. That’s one of the challenges that I love about working with kids. They kind of create their own flow. So much behind the art of photographing them is being able to connect with them and also being able to adapt quickly and creatively. And I love that thrill when you snap the shutter, check your display, and you’re rewarded with the sight of big smiles. YES!!
“Iz” is a charmer and a ham. I didn’t bother trying to pose him or direct him (which isn’t really my style anyway). I didn’t need to. He seemed intent on making his mom laugh constantly. It made for such cute moments like this next series. “E” also had a goal he was completely focused on too. He was in the midst of an attempt to build the deepest tunnel in the sand ever. Maybe he was hoping for buried treasure.
I heard Melissa promising the boys that they could play and go swimming when we finished with the photos. So after spending just a little time taking some group portraits, playtime began and the boys took off. This is when the fun for me really began. I got to focus on more candid photos of the boys just being boys and it made for some of my favorite pictures of the day.
I can’t explain exactly why, but I love this last photo. There’s just something about the soft fading afternoon light shining down on him like a spotlight from heaven.
Thank to Melissa for entrusting me with such an important task, of creating something tangible to remember your life here in the islands. We will miss your sweet family and we hope you enjoy all the adventures Texas has for you. Thanks to my friend, Joy Pishcura, who was able to drop everything at the last minute to assist me with this shoot.