Hawaii Street Photography

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Aloha,

When most people think of street photography they think you must shoot in areas where there’s chaos of people, rich in history, or plentiful of colors. Some countries/cities that are on the top of most street photographers list to shoot in are India, Japan, London, New York, Coney Island, LA, San Francisco,  and Cuba. Hawaii is not even a consideration or on the radar. Hawaii is home to a lot of great photographers or genres of photography, surf photography (Clark Little, John Hook), landscape photography (Aaron Feinberg), seascape photography, sunrise/sunset photography, nature photography, I can go on.

When I first started off I thought I wasn’t able to produce quality images or find those eye catching moments because I was in Honolulu, everything seemed so boring. Everything looked the same (born and raised in Honolulu my whole life).

Shooting for over a few years now, I can say some of my best images were made here in Honolulu, right in my backyard, my childhood playground of Waikiki. Traveling to different cities or countries have made me appreciate home. You don’t need to be in a big city to produce good images, the truth o f the matter is the more you go and shoot the more the opportunity will present itself. No matter the location.

Why I think Honolulu is a prime location for street photography…

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Personally, I think Honolulu is a great place for street photography (I have yet adventured to the neighbor islands to shoot, will explore one day). Honolulu offers a lot in the form of diverse cultures, if you take a scroll to Waikiki (touristy spot), you’ll find locals, tourist, of all shape, sizes, color, background. The island is located between international Asia and the US mainland. We have the option to shoot on the beach (my personal favorite) and catch surreal, comical, and interesting moments.

Weather is great year round with spectacular lighting for sunset or sunrise. A good portion of Honolulu is under redevelopment. Kaka’ako is an area that’s going through major changes (the government wants that to be the hip area aka San Francisco of Hawaii). There’s a lot of construction, graffiti art (the famous POW WOW Hawaii), on weekends they have events. It’s not a dense area like Waikiki but it’s a good spot to find something different and be away from a chaotic area like Waikiki.

There’s other areas within Honolulu that I would consider good spots to roam and shoot. I would consider Kalihi as an area with potential, it’s not overcrowded with people but there’s a lot of old homes, shops, some nice colors. It’s not a touristy spot, so if you’re looking to get away from the tourist attractions, I would consider Kalihi. Many surrounding areas within Kalihi are low income housing, homelessness, different ethnic backgrounds, many schools within a short radius.

There’s many areas that I have yet hit up myself and would like to (Waipahu, Haleiwa, Kaimuki). You can check out Japanese street photographer Shin Noguchi, who recently visited Honolulu and captured many great moments (he’s currently seeking a publisher to publish his book “Hawaii”).

I think there are people who are interested in learning what street photography is and how to go about it here in Hawaii. There are a few people on the islands that I know already shoots this genre. And with the reach of social media, I do foresee Hawaii being more active and one of the top destinations for not just seascape or sunrise/sunset photography…(oh how did I forget to mention “WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY”,) but for street photography too. You can make great photos anywhere and anytime. Keep shooting!

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” – Bobby Unser

What I learned traveling and photographing in Havana

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It Takes Time to Feel Comfortable

Prior to landing in Havana, Cuba, I heavily did my research on the city. Is it safe? Is there internet? Are the people nice? Tourist reviews? Crime rate? Things to do? Where to go? Asked friends who’ve traveled to Havana about their experiences.

For the most part, friends and online reviews had nothing but positive things to say about their time in Havana. In fact, it was rather encouraging, friends would mention that there’s “so much to shoot in Havana, you’ll have a field day, the locals are so photogenic”. I was really excited on this personal photographic journey.

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With those insights, I thought I would be able to capture many special moments…and do it with ease. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I had envision. It took me a few days to feel comfortable with my surrounding and get a feel of my sense of place. For one there is no internet, two I traveled on this journey alone, and three being in a new place with info that I had only read on the internet and gather from a few friends can only do so much. From this experience I’ve learned that you really don’t know until you put yourself out there.

Shoot Like It’s Your Job

My first two days, I would say I photographed like a tourist. In awe with the cars from the 50’s and colonial colors and architecture. I definitely got the cliche shots for memories. I had a photographer’s block my first two days (very short trip 4 1/2 days). I wanted to create and capture something innovative. Nothing stood out to me. I walked a total of 40,000 steps each day. From Old Havana to Central Havana, to Vedado, all along Malecon, and would come up unsatisfied with my photos.  I would be honest with myself and say I was not as assertive because I was feeling my way around town.

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It wasn’t until my last 2 days where I was more assertive and aggressive with my shooting. I was being more proactive, clicking the shutter regardless if I thought the moment was interesting or not. I would shoot as if I was shooting at an event, shoot, move, repeat. Your limits are all within your mind. If you want to go out and accomplish something, only you can slow yourself down. Shoot as if your on assignment, either will be paid or you don’t come back with any usable photo and be fired from your job.

Shoot Through The Window

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Shoot while in the car, Lee Friedlander style. Photographing while in the taxi was one of my highlights. Being in the car you know you’ll cover so much ground and you’re not seeing the same mundane neighborhood or work district as back home. Some of the images I’m happy with were through the car. Just snap away and enjoy the ride. Photographing through the car offers a unique perspective, a different taste. This Point of View really captures the POV of the photographer.

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I think if I had a few extra days it would have been perfect. I would have ventured out to other areas in Cuba. To summarize, I’m thankful for this Cuban experience and to have had this once in a lifetime opportunity, to communicate with people in a country where both our governments have had decades of tension. This experience will continue to help me understand this complicated world we all live in. And this was done through verbal discussions and visual documentation.

Your photos should say something about your personality

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I would like to start off by saying that I have a bi-polar personality. Growing up through grade school a lot of my friends and classmates knew me as a class clown, in fact that’s what I won my senior year in high school…The Class Clown. I loved attention as a child not because I had a lack of attention at home but because of the reactions I’ll get, I enjoyed making people laugh whether they’re laughing at me or with me it didn’t matter.

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