Oahu Maternity Photographer | Glowing in Nuuanu Valley Park

Oahu Maternity Photographer under a canopy of trees near sunset in honolulu

Beach or Park for Family Photos?

Hours before our scheduled session we were still undecided. Should we have the photo session at a favorite park or a favorite beach? Personally, I love them both but how do you decide?

Some toddlers are not fans of the beach. The sand seems to annoy them to no end. It seeps into their shoes, sticks to their fingers and toes, and makes them incredibly cranky. Others can’t seem to get enough beach. They roll in the sand, eat it, and rub it in their hair. Marli was a little more on the “annoyed by the beach” end of the spectrum. Today, however, she was insisting on a trip to the beach. She even went as far as putting on her favorite swimsuit – inside out and with arms in the leg holes, but her point was clear. What to do? In a flash decision, we chose the park and hoped for the best.

Worth the Bumps?

Long weeks of winter rain left the park a vibrant green paradise. Moss grew in great clumps along every branch while vines dripped from the canopy. Meanwhile, we navigated toddler-sized monstera and philodendron on the ground. The massive leaves rippled slightly under the influence of a slight evening breeze. It was a serene and beautiful scene – almost perfect. Almost.

As I danced along deeper into the park, giddy in all that golden light, I noticed a high pitched whine. I sighed and glanced down. As suspected, my legs were covered with a fine dusting of mosquitoes. They were unusually dense. For most, the bites are a slight annoyance, but others suffer more dramatically. After a few minutes in the park’s interior, little Marli was already suffering from large itchy welts. We said goodbye to the pretty light and retreated quickly. The welts have long since disappeared but the beautiful images remain.

toddler perched on a pregnant belly during a maternity photo shoot in hawaii
sweet family taking maternity portraits at nuuanu valley park
dad and toddler daughter playing during a family photo session in hawaii
sweet toddler and mom during maternity photoshoot in oahu
closeup portrait of a sweet toddler girl during a family photo session in hawaii
toddler girl jumping into moms arms during a maternity photo session in oahu
mom and toddler girl play under a giant tree at nuuanu park oahu
sweet family snuggles at sunset during a materntiy family photo session
toddler with a hand on moms pregnant belly during a family photo session in oahu hawaii
mom adjusting toddler girls dress in the sunshine
starburst through the trees at sunset during a family maternity photography shoot in nuuanu oahu

Are You Expecting?

Let me plan a fun evening so you can capture your family before the big changes a new baby brings. Take a pause from all the preparation and focus on enjoying this time. Find out more about my maternity and family photography sessions here. I offer shorter options too if you need something short and sweet.

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    Kid-Friendly Hiking Trails in Oahu | Kuliouou Ridge Trail

    Which Ridge Hike to Choose?

    To prepare for our New Zealand backpacking trip (and to break in new hiking boots), we’ve been visiting kid-friendly hiking trails around Oahu. The Kuliouou Ridge Trail is one we’ve hiked only once in the past (without kids) and had little memory of it. Actually, the only thing I do remember is that I prefer the ridge hike on neighboring Hawaii Loa Ridge. However, Hawaii Loa has restricted access and the meager ten parking permits are usually gone on a Sunday afternoon.

    boy hiking through dense forest on the kuliouou ridge trail in hawaii kai, oahu

    About the Hike

    So off to Kuliouou. According to AllTrails, the popular hike is 4 miles round trip, but it feels longer. Others report it as 4.5 or 5 miles which is nicer on the ego because it was slow-going on the final ascent to the summit.

    For the first half of the hike, we zig-zagged up the mountain through towering ironwood and guava. Above, the dense canopy danced eagerly in the wind filling the forest with ominous whispers. At this point, Mila decided continuous chatter was necessary to quell the creepiness. As she sped ahead I took care not to twist an ankle. Tree roots, half-hidden under forest debris, snake back and forth along the trail waiting to grab an unsuspecting foot. Several times we took unintentional shortcuts which took us on an unpleasantly steep scramble up the hillside.

    A little after the halfway point, the switchbacks are replaced with a straight, steep ascent. You navigate your way over a sea of roots and into a grove of imposing pines before emerging into blinding daylight. Here, you’re rewarded with your first views – the ocean, the neighboring ridges, Koko Head and Hawaii kai. It only gets more spectacular from this point, but first, you have to conquer the stairs. Up you go, cheered by birdsong – is that an apapane I hear? and Seuss-ian ohia trees.

    I tried not to take it personally when the kids began to chant “the power of youth!” and sprinted ahead. Step by careful step, mindful of my aging knees, I made my way to the summit. We were running out of daylight so we made a quick stop for snacks before heading back down.

    In total, the hike took us 3 hours with stops for snacks and photos. The trail can get wet and slippery which would add time, but it’s manageable for families with some hiking experience. We even saw younger kids about 5 or 6 years old near the summit.

    dad and daughter holding hands on a farmily-friendly hike on oahu
    portrait of a boy hiking in oahu
    hiking a steep slope on the kuliouou ridge trail in oahu
    fun family friendly ridge trail on oahu by little bird photography
    boy hiking on a fun ridge hike on oahu
    fun family-friendly hike on oahu
    kids hiking through a pine forest on oahu photo by little bird photography
    kids on a kid-friendly ridge hike in the koolau mountains
    girl taking a break on a kid-friendly hiking trail in oahu
    views of koko head and hawaii kai from the kuliouou ridge hike
    siblings enjoying the views from the kuliouou ridge trail
    kids hiking the stairs near the summit of the kuliouou ridge trail
    stairs near the top of the kuliouou trail hike
    taking a portrait at the kooliau ridge summit
    taking in the view of windward oahu from the summit of the kuliouou trail hike
    kids at the summit of the kuliouou hike looking over hawaii kai
    heading back from the summit of the kuliouou trail
    red dirt along the Kuliouou hike
    kids hiking along the kuliouou ridge trail in oahu

    Looking for More Kid-Friendly Hiking Ideas?

    Prefer a shorter, less-intense hike with the kids? Try the Lanikai Pillbox hike which is short and sweet and still packs in the great views. For more ideas on family fun in Oahu, sign up for the Little Bird Post below.

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      Oahu Newborn Photos + Films | A Special Place

      The Sudden Call

      I was shopping in Costco when I got the call. Normally, I don’t answer my phone in a loud public space, but it happened without thinking. “What? You just had a baby?!” It had been years since I first photographed Krystyn’s family. We first met for newborn photos after the birth of their daughter and now they had welcomed another little girl into their family.

      In all the chaos and preparations for the arrival of the new baby, they forgot to book a photo session. The realization came on suddenly one late night as she rocked the new baby to sleep. She breathed as sigh of relief as we made plans for a session later that week.

      A Visit to the Byodo-in Temple

      Krystyn wanted a mix of photos at home and outdoors. For their last newborn session, we met at Kailua Beach, but this time they had a place nearer to their hearts – the Byodo-in Temple. The temple is within walking distance to their home in Kaneohe and they’ve spent many afternoons strolling the peaceful grounds as a family, playing hide-and-seek in the tall bamboo and feeding the koi fish. Not only is it a special place, but a beautiful one. In a pop of color, the temple stands out against the moody green Koolau Mountains above.

      After a lovely afternoon of baby snuggling and bed jumping at home, we met again in the evening to wander the grounds and capture their new life as a family of four.

      Watch their sweet newborn film by clicking the play button below –

      And see a sample of their photos here –

      oahu newborn photographer closeup of sweet baby
      hawaii newborn photographer captures a portrait of the new family at home
      couple snuggling their newborn baby during a family photo session in hawaii
      mom and her daughters captured at home
      dad snuggles his newborn baby daughter at home during a Oahu Newborn Photos + Films session
      newborn baby with a hat and blanket
      aerial view of dad and older daughter holding new baby at home
      big sister takes a break during newborn family photoshoot
      mom and daughter during in-home family photo session
      big sister loves on her newborn baby as dad holds her
      dad throws toddler daughter on the bed during a fun family photo session at home
      mom cuddles newborn baby at home
      family portrait at byodo-in temple
      dad and daughter
      oahu newborn photographer portrait of mom and baby at byodo-in temple
      dad and daughter sound the bell at byodo-in temple
      mom and newborn baby portraits at byodo-in temple in kaneohe oahu
      family looking over the grounds at byodo-in temple
      family walking up the path from byodo-in temple

      Do you Have an Approaching Due Date or a Brand New Baby?

      Document those first bleary days that pass in a rush with your own sweet newborn photos + films. Find out more about my newborn sessions here.

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        Waimanalo Family Reunion | Teenage Triumph

        Memories on the Beach

        Her chubby pink feet tested the sand. It was more compact here, near the water’s edge and she was able to stand solidly. Her mom beckoned feverishly a few feet in front of her and without thinking her feet were moving quickly and awkwardly away from dad’s hands and into a massive hug. They were her very first steps.

        Now, some 16 years later she was walking on another beach with her family. With college looming the following fall, she was on the precipice of another big change, and the family was making an effort to enjoy and be grateful for their final months together. So when the grandparents proposed a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Hawaii for the whole family to celebrate their 50th anniversary, they jumped at the chance.

        Their family photo session was a gift to their parents. True, they had family portraits very recently in a field of bluebonnets (a Texas tradition), but it was rare for them all to be together. And in Hawaii.

        Waimanalo Family Reunion with teenagers at the beach

        Not a Morning Person

        Scheduling was tricky with five teenagers in the group. Teenagers are not typically at their best at sunrise so we wisely planned for an evening session. However, the weather had other plans. Their multi-island cruise only left them with a few days on Oahu and those days called for rain in the evening.

        It was just before sunrise when the 15 passenger van pulled up alongside me at Sherwood Beach in Waimanalo. As I organized my photo gear, kids slowly emerged from the van one by one emitting a series of lengthy yawns. They weren’t fully awake.

        The mood immediately became energized as the beach path opened into wide views of Waimanalo Bay. They ran down to the water’s edge and let the wind lift their hair. The Makapuu lighthouse blinked lazily in the distance and seabirds soared overhead.

        We took it easy with some traditional portraits and games to get everyone laughing. At the end of the session, the kids jumped in the water to play in the waves and then they buried themselves to warm up.

        photo session for a family with teenagers in hawaii
        mom and daughter closeup during a hawaii photo session
        couple portrait at sherwood beach waimanalo
        cousins laughing at the beach during a family reunion photo session by little bird photography
        grandparents snuggle during a 50th anniversary trip to hawaii
        family walks along the beach in waimanalo at sunrise
        family hug at the beach
        senior portrait at sherwood forest oahu
        family walks along sherwood beach with mountains in the distance
        teenage cousins have fun at the beach during a family photoshoot
        all the women in a family reunion photo session in hawaii
        grandma with a big smile during a waimanalo family reunion
        senior portrait at the beach in hawaii
        couple portrait at the lifeguard stand in hawaii
        family silhouette with ironwood trees in waimanalo
        cousins lounge at waimanalo beach during a family photo session
        couple snuggles while looking at the water during a 50th anniversary reunion vacation to hawaii
        girl lounges at waimanalo beach during a family photo session

        Are You Planning a Hawaii Family Reunion?

        Find out more about my easy family reunion photo sessions that even teenagers can get on board with.

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          Kid Friendly Hikes in Oahu | Honolulu Mauka Trail System

          A Network of Kid Friendly Hikes in Oahu

          As we wound our way up Tantalus under a dripping, tropical canopy, I felt transported far from the hustle of Honolulu and the threat of COVID-19. I rolled down the windows to the welcoming smell of eucalyptus and closed my eyes in the dappled sunlight. It was a relief to get out of the house after months of quarantine.

          I did the quick math and realized with a shock that it had been almost 15 years since I had last visited Tantalus. We moved to the windward side after living and working in Makiki for years and I hadn’t been back. Looking at the peace and beauty around me, I wondered why.

          We passed ambitious bikers panting their way up the relentless hill and noted people taking in the views of Diamond Head and Waikiki at various pullouts along the way. As we climbed higher, signs for various trailheads flashed past along with sweaty hikers returning to their cars. The entire mountainside is home to a vast network of hiking trails from short strolls to arduous sweat baths. You can pick and choose and link various hikes together for a custom adventure.

          The Kalawahine Trail

          Our destination this particular Sunday was the Kalawahine Trail. I led tours on this trail and had fond, if foggy, memories of it. I remembered it being fairly short and mistakenly told the kids to expect a 3-ish mile hike. Why do I keep making that mistake?

          Cars lined the narrow street as we approached the trailhead. Either the hike has become more popular or more people are anxious to escape into the wilderness like us.

          After taking in views of the city and ocean stretched out below, we hit the trails which are well maintained and clearly marked. There were some steep drop-offs, but otherwise it was and easy and there was enough variety to keep pulling us further into the forest.

          At the end of the Kalawahine Trail, you reach a T-junction and have to make a choice. We chose to head up to the ridge where I remembered seeing native plants and ‘Amakihi many years ago. The kids groaned and protested but it was worth it so we added an extra loop on the way back for a combined distance of 5 miles.

          Looking for More Family Adventures?

          Want to add a waterfall to your family hike? Take the Kalawahine Trail to Pauoa Flats and head downhill via the Aihualama Trail to connect to popular Manoa Falls. It would make for a long hike! But you can also access the falls more directly from the Manoa Falls Trail. Find a map of hiking trails in the area here to choose your own adventure.

          For more tips on Oahu family fun, sign up for the Little Bird Post below. You’ll receive monthly updates with ideas that take you off-the-beaten path.

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