Family beach photography at Kawela Bay

Sometimes people end up in Hawaii by chance. They tag along for a family reunion or make the long journey to attend a wedding. If you traveled this far, you might as well make the most of it with a mini family vacation. Seek out a secluded beach. Circle the island in search of sea turtles. Or just relax by the shore at sunset. There are so many ways to make it memorable.

Joanna and her family were attending a wedding at Turtle Bay Resort and decided to squeeze in a family photo shoot. They wanted a bit of greenery and loved the sinuous roots of the banyan trees. We opted for quiet Kawela Bay. Other than a group of people on horseback, we had the bay to ourselves.

Sun light broke through the trees, creating a dreamy haze as we explored the forest. The boys were delighted to climb and search for the perfect stick and their laughter echoed through the trees. Slowly, we made our way to the shore to splash along its edge. It was a lovely, peaceful evening.

family beach photography in hawaiidad holding baby boy for photo session in hawaiimom holding baby in pretty backlightmom and baby playing at kawela bay oahufamily beach photography in oahumom nad baby portrait under a banyan tree in hawaiimom and son playing together at the beachboy playing in the sand north shore of oahu

Want to take home beautiful memories of your time in Hawaii?

Contact me today so we can start planning a fun photo session that’s part adventure and part family snuggles. Find out more about my photography sessions here.

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Where do Hawaii residents go on vacation?

Just where do Hawaii residents go on vacation?

I walked off the plane and was immediately enveloped into a blanket humidity. The air was lightly scented of plumeria. It felt like a welcome home hug.

This month I celebrate my 16th year living on Oahu. It was never the plan to stay this long, but somehow it became impossible to leave. It’s an inspiring place as a photographer and nature lover. I find myself reaching for my camera again and again to capture the beauty around me.

Still, as much as I love the islands, I regularly feel the effects of rock fever and need to make a trip. But when you live in major tourist destination, a so called tropical paradise, where do you go on vacation? This is a question I hear often, so I put together a top 4 list.

4. Search for something different

The world is an amazing place and there’s so much to see and experience. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific means it’s expensive to go anywhere, so why not make the most of it? Many head to the cold to ski down snowy slopes or to just have an excuse to put on warm clothes and drink hot chocolate. Some head to big cities to take in shows and shopping, while others travel to experience different cultures.

If you have flexibility, you can try out Kayak Explore and choose your destination by cheap flights.

san juan islands home at sunsetgirl at sunset in washingtonpatagonia landscapevancouver island tidepoolsrice terrace at tagalalong balidad and daughter hiking in the fog of vancouver islandglaciers in patagoniapenguins in punta arenas chilegroup walking acorss a glacier in patagoniaboy at massive waterfall on bali

3. Family reunions

There are many transplants in the Islands along with families who have have members that moved away. Many Hawaii locals plan trips to visit family for a fun reunion. With our family on the other side of the world, just getting there and back is an adventure.

girl in tulip fields hollandfamily hiking dunes on ameland netherlandsflower stall in the netherlands

2. Las Vegas

Hawaiians make 300,000 trips to Las Vegas every year making it perhaps the most Hawaiian city on the mainland. This migration from paradise is a result of casino-sponsored charter packages that make crossing the Pacific cheaper than hopping to a neighbor island.

This virtual Aloha State has its own radio programs, websites and even casino hotels, where plainclothes security men wear aloha shirts, and restaurants and gift shops cater to Hawaiian tastes and traditions, like Spam for breakfast.

1. Hawaii

The top vacation destination for Hawaiian residents is simply Hawaii. Many hotels like Disney’s Aulani resort and Turtle Bay on Oahu have excellent kama’aina discounts offering a bit of luxury and relaxation close to home. If you want to venture a bit farther, simply island hop. One thing I love about Hawaii is that each island has a unique feel and opportunity for adventure.

hands exploring a pretty fern in hawaiigirl in waipio making a black sand castlekid hiking in the rainforest on kauaiWhere do Hawaii residents go on vacation

If you don’t have any travel plans scheduled and you’re feeling a bit of rock fever yourself, try something new. Browse through the Keiki Monday archives to find some fun family activities on Oahu.





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Candid family photography

It doesn’t feel right to have favorite families to photograph. Just like it doesn’t feel right to have a favorite child. If I did have favorites, however, this one would be at the top of the list. It’s such a treat to see them each year.

Our goal has been to visit a new location around the island each year. It’s a tradition that even camera-loathing Henry enjoys because it always involves lots of exploring, digging, climbing, and splashing. This year we met at sunrise beneatch the rocky cliffs and surging surf at Makapuu Beach. After a long car ride, the kids emerged in a rush of energy and excitement. Even thought their from Texas, they know how to have fun a the beach. Straight to the sand they dashed to start digging and running through the dunes.

The sun was sluggish and reluctant that morning, but when it finally broke through the crowds, the heat was unbearable. We made our escape to the cool green of Nuuanu Beach Park.

We shared laughs among the oversized leaves and toads until bellies began to rumble. I often get caught up in their adventures and before I realize, half the day has slipped past and my memory cards are full. Until next year my friends. I already have ideas for another fun morning.

Click the play button below to watch their family film.


and now the photos…

candid family photo session in oahukids playing at the beach in hawaiioahu lifestyle photography sessionkids playing at the beach on oahuboy warming up after a swim at the beach in oahucandid family photographyhawaii family portraits at nuuanu parksister hugging her little brother in hawaii

Want to push pause on this part of your life?

Capture all the sweet moments, little voices, and gestures that make your kids who they are with a family film and photo session. Find additional details here.

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Maui lifestyle | documentary family film

Kate was my first video fan. She would tune into my Vimeo channel to watch family films on loop. Not her family, but other families playing at the beach and at home. When her mom, a dear friend a fellow photographer, told me this story I was touched. I wanted Kate to have her very own film.

They live on Maui so when I booked a photo session for another family there, I extended my trip to capture a day in the life of Kate. The day evolved toddler style and we were able to capture a perfect day in Kate’s world filled with chickens and books and fun with mom. We ended the day with a stunning sunrise at a beach in Kihei. It was so lovely, I had to make a separate film just for the beach.


I grabbed some stills from the video as well –

mom and daughter making a chalk rainbowmaui documentary family photo sessiontoddler with her hand on mom's shouldertoddler helping mom make eggsdocumentary family filmlittle girl taking a break from soccer

What does your story look like?

Your memories matter. Now matters. Give yourself and your family a gift to treasure with a your own documentary family film. Let’s plan a fun day together so I can tell your family’s story. Find out more about my family film sessions here.

Disney Aulani photographer | Transformation

Some kids are a little more reserved in front of the camera. They might be shy or spend a lot of time fake smiling for cameras. They might loathe cameras entirely and run in the opposite direction when a lens is pointed at them. Whatever the case, I work hard to get beyond that and bring out real smiles and personalities. I have lots of tricks up my sleeve, so it’s just a matter of finding one that fits.

Still, i’m no match for the magic of the ocean. Like nothing else, playing in the water can transform the most stoic, camera-aware child into a joyful bundle.

Kim and her family were visiting Disney’s Aulani Resort for the first time and thought it was a great opportunity for family photos. It was their first professional experience and they were a little unsure what to expect. I gently nudged them to consider playing in the water. I know, I know. A photo session in your swimsuit sounds like some particularly evil brand of torture, but many of my all-time favorite images were captured in the water.

In the end, I was glad I pushed them. The kids are both polite and well-behaved, but it’s nice to get a little deeper for photos. A little more real. As soon as they entered the water, they were immediately themselves. They splashed and played and ran with wild abandon. It was so much fun to see that transformation.


shared family hug during a koolina photo sessionmom and son playing at the beach in hawaiifather and son exploring the beach at tidepoolhappy family portrait session at koolinawater play at a family photo session in koolinagirl playing at paradise cove beachkids play in the water at koolina lagoonfun beach photography photo sessionDisney Aulani photographer

Do you have a water-loving family?

No need to get fancy for your photo session. Grab a boogie board and beach towel and let’s spend a fun morning playing in the surf. Those are the moments you will want to remember. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

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