It started years ago…Sean and I would talk about places we dreamed of visiting. Sean’s first choice was always HAWAII.
We knew it was a major trip and would require a lot of planning (and budgeting). As we got closer to 2018 (also known as the year Sean was turning 40 so we decided to make it happen, nothing makes you forget that you’re turning 40 like going to Hawaii). We researched and started planning the trip based on things we dreamed of doing on the islands (Pearl Harbor, helicopter, incredible snorkling, etc). We narrowed our visit to the middle of the Pacific down to three islands…Kauai, Oahu and the Big Island (aka Hawaii). They were very intentionally selected based on experiences we thought would make instant memories of a lifetime.
Maybe one day I’ll do more posts on the mad science of how I plan our summer trips but for now, I’ll give the highlight reel of our trip and then come back to the planning, camera gear, traveling with kids, etc.
We started with the gorgeous island of Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle which is one of the oldest islands. Kauai was on our list from the jump because my little cuz lives there along with a coworker/friend of mine. I expected a small island with a true Hawaiian vibe, small towns and an incredible landscape…it delivered! It met all my dreams and more. We arrived after dusk so we were thrilled when we naturally woke up for sunrise (ahem, jet lag) and took in this!
We hauled our own snorkel gear so we could have it whenever we wanted (and I was a little weirded out by germs, ewww).
The following image is so special to me. It didn’t escape me that we are so blessed and fortunate to be able to plan for a trip like this. Seeing our 9 and 11 year old snorkeling off a small island in the Pacific Ocean was overwhelming. So, so special.
If you know Declan, he loves his long hair. He fit right in with all the surfer dudes.
One of the natural wonders of Kauai is the Waimea Canyon. It’s known as the “Grand Canyon” of the Pacific. It’s about 10 miles long and 3,600 feet deep with incredible views, colors, waterfalls, and…animals.
The image above was from our helicopter ride (more on that later) but drink in that incredible waterfall. We caught glimpses of it on our drive up through the Waimea Canyon. And then we noticed that small trail just to the left of the waterfall…it looks like a clay cliff. We didn’t know how far or what we were getting into when started but long story made short…yep, we hiked that. It ended up being 6 miles round trip and since we didn’t intentionally plan on hiking it, we did it without being properly prepared (no water, hype up songs). Needless to say, we’re pretty proud of that hike now. Even the scary part when we ran into a wild boar.
If your travels ever take you to Kauai, go to Passion Bakery. The most delicious pastries and breakfast sandwiches. So good, we went twice 🙂
And shave ice!! Yes, shave (not shaved! no “d” on the end). We loved it and had it at a number of places. Ono ono was my favorite with the local spice of Li Hing Mui (it was unique — both sweet and spicy). A couple other notes about the shave ice: shave snow is shave ice that’s been shaved, re-frozen and shaved again. We got that once as well, it’s creamier and while it was tasty we liked the shave ice better. And a snow cap is where they add sweet condensed milk to the top (similar to how we’d add chocolate syrup, because sugar).
We dreamed of ‘getting to tha choppa’ in Hawaii and were thrilled when we could make it work and the weather was amazing. We were especially tickled to have the unique opportunity to land at Jurassic Falls. Oh yeah, the same waterfall at the beginning of the Jurassic Park movie. It’s privately owned in Kauai and the owner is friends with the helicopter company owner so they worked out a deal (that also included the government). What was crazy about this experience (aside from the mega waterfall) was the ability to fly through the canyon and land on the ground (no helipad or anything). Insane right?! We also flew through the Waimea Canyon and then over the breathtaking Napali Coast. Seriously, I could called it a trip after that. It was so breathtakingly beautiful. We saw countless waterfalls, flew over the wettest spot on the earth (gets over 300 inches of rain) and into a volcano crater. We were all pretty speechless and losing our minds, except for the poor woman next to Sean. She was losing her lunch(es).
Click here if you want to see a video that I took of us flying through the canyon to the falls. Harp’s face at the :34 mark tells it all. It was truly jaw dropping. (Sean said we look like we’re going to a funeral because we’re all in black. This vacay was killing it, so it kinda made sense. The black reduces the glare on the glass so we took that instruction very seriously 🙂 The super cool-looking footies are to protect the land from anything that may be on our shoes when we walked up to the falls. We took them off when we got back into the helicopter. And the yellow packs are floatation devices…safety first!)
We went to a popular Luau on the island. It was entertaining had plenty of fire and drinks (Sean) to keep our interest, but a little touristy. Harp and I got beautiful leis and we all tried poi (made from taro root), a local food for those with an acquired taste. Harp explained it best when she said it tasted like flavorless applesauce.
The next morning we met my cousin and his lovely girlfriend for sunrise, breakfast and surf lessons. The kids LOVED getting lessons from James and he was so patient with them. And we were so proud of both kiddos for trying it. And Declan was especially excited to catch a long wave. They were both a little surprised with how tired they were after. No big deal…just a seal on the beach!
We spent the next day with my friend/co-worker Melissa and her hubby. If you’re ever on the island, you have to rent bikes from Coconut Coasters. They own the place and they are truly the nicest people. We got to tour the Fern Grotto (cave) on a lovely river boat cruise!
And then we headed to the north part of the island (which was most impacted by flooding earlier this year) and enjoyed a sunset over majestic Hanalei Bay. With two miles of beach and surrounded by mountains it was gorgeous spot for the kids to run and play some baseball with a stick and coconut. Check out restaurants AMA and Kalypso if you head there, ask for James or Celestial respectively!
We tried and loved POG (passion, orange and guava juice). I’m pretty sure this girl, drank her weight in POG. And she was on cloud 9 when she found out Hawaiian Airlines served it on the plane!
One of my favorite photos of the island. We passed this field of palms about 6 times a day and everytime it make me grateful and full of joy. I have always loved palms and to see them in such concentration with the mountains as the background…stunning.
Stay tuned, we’re just getting started…Oahu is up next 🙂 And the Big Island isn’t far behind.
“Can you photograph my daughter’s first birthday party?”
YES! YES! YES!
This family has been so special to me and it was an honor to be a part of the celebration.
A few years ago, I was looking for a way to be more present during Christmas morning. I felt intense pressure to capture the moment but also not miss the moments because I was behind a camera. The idea of doing a time lapse each Christmas has changed that for me completed. I still use my phone for snapshots throughout the morning but overall, I sit back and enough the magic and joy of Christmas morning.
Over the years, the family loves that we capture these moments and have even spent time trying to one-up each other with funny frames.
Want to see past time lapse videos?
- Our first video was in 2013. For comparison it was 415 images. This year was close to 2,000 images.
- 2014. This was the year of Sean’s walk across the sofa and the beginning of funny frames.
- 2015 was warm outside so no fireplace. Declan did a copycat sofa walk and Von Miller dancing was all the rage! Also, it looks like it was the first year of LED lights. Believe it or not LED lights flicker but you can’t see it with the human eye. The camera catches it if your shutter is at a certain speed so it looks like our tree lights flicker but they don’t.
- Sadly, I don’t think I made my 2016 video. I took the photos but never put it together. Grace, not perfection 🙂
- 2017…here you go:
If you’re interested in the set up of the
Goodness gracious…this is what you get when a family as kind as they are beautiful meet a crazy gorgeous fall day. I’ve been photographing this sweet family since before the little guy was born and it’s such a joy to watch his personality.
Some of my very favorite shoots are at home…the kids feel comfortable, the background is familiar and you make memories in the place that’s most sacred to you.
FAITHFUL, ACTIVE and FUN!
Each time I capture a family, I start with a questionnaire so I can learn a little more about them, what they enjoy and the types of things they do together. I was instantly connected with this family because of our love for travel and ironically, we’re taking similar summer vacations. So fun! And then, I meet them and all three boys had long hair which has a special place in my heart since my little guy rocks the long hair.
Mom described her family as faithful, active and fun and she couldn’t have been more accurate. Enjoy a few images of our time running around Maymont! read more
This family was such a joy to photograph — you could feel the outpouring of love, grace and true adoration for each other with a little silliness mixed in. We spent the first few minutes getting the little guy warmed up to the camera but wasn’t long before he was hamming it up and calling the shots for the whole family. His big sister was full of beauty and grace and some of the images of her and her mom are some of my favorites. I’m so grateful to have met them and captured their love for each other. And how much does Dad and his look guy look alike? Click read more to see the rest of the images. read more
Do you have thousands of family or travel photos? Can you find the photo you want when you need it? When it comes to storing your images, printing is always my favorite and most timeless way to guarantee your memories but that doesn’t override the importance of backing up your photos in the cloud. For years, I’ve used Dropbox and it worked well but after finding dozens of disks from a decade ago it was time to do a massive back up and I found Google Photos. Google Photos has given me the freedom to have over a decade of images at my finger tips! read more
Eight years ago I was photographing everything I could put in front of my camera and shooting my little heart out. There wasn’t a business yet…I was trying to learn, practice and practice some more. Besides my husband and family there was one person who was cheering me on with support like no other…Erin. She spoke encouraging words, wrote thoughtful cards and never forgot to tell you how much she appreciated you. She referred some of my first clients, she trusted me with her most precious memories and she never stopped cheering. I’m confident I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. read more
There will always be an extra special place in my heart for Honeymoon Island. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida and it was in our backyard while we lived in Tampa. If you haven’t been….GO! You won’t be disappointed. While we were visiting, I was fortunate to schedule a few sessions and one just happened to be with a family that my husband grew up with. Emily’s parents and my in-laws have been friends for many, many years and it’s been a joy to visit with them and capture the energy on camera. And honestly, I’m convinced if shoot ends with two boys dressed in suspenders in the Gulf of Mexico we did something right! read more