Lanikai Beach Family Photo Session | From Makai to Mauka

family watching sunrise over the mokes from Lanikai beach

A change of plans

One of the great perks of being a professor is the option to take a sabbatical. You can take a year off to work at a different university or on a special project or just travel. Why don’t they allow that for more professions because it sounds amazing? This family hit a snag in their plans – COVID. Their trip coincided with the start of hte pandemic and ultimately rerouted them from Italy to Hawaii – Lanikai Beach specifically. Less romantic, but not a bad place to spend a year.

Sunrise to Sunset, makai to mauka

They asked me to document their days in photos and video to remember their time in Hawaii. We simply strolled down the street from their house and met at the beach for sunrise. After much running, hugging and general silliness on the beach, it was time to jump in.

We launched a paddleboard and the kids took turns steering and jumping off, but the clouds were stubborn that day and the water was a bit chilly. We didn’t last long under the winter clouds. No worries, we would meet again that afternoon for part II of our adventure – a hike above their Lanikai home.

< click play to watch their family below >

< and see a sample of their images here >

mom and daughter hug
closeup of a toddler boy with freckles
mom and daughter hug with the mokulua islets behind at sunrise
Lanikai Beach Family Photo Session
closeup of siblings laughing
family playing at lanikai beach
kids loving on mom in hawaii
girl spinning at the beach
kids loving on dad during a family photo session at lanikai beach
dad and son playing at the beach
portrait of mom and son smiling
parents watching kids play in the water at lanikai beach
dad and daughter portrait oahu hawaii
mom kissing daughter on the forehead
boy paddleboarding at lanikai
mom and son play in the water at lanikai beach
family playing at lanikai beach
family on paddleboards at lanikai beach
underwater portrait of a boy swimming at lanikai beach oahu

Oahu Memories, Part II: Lanikai Pillbox Hike

We met again that evening at the Lanikai pillbox trail. It was a hike they make regularly and they sped up the mountainside, skipping and hopping happily along. The howling winds encouraged us to keep moving. We got a little carried away by the pretty pastel sky and muted landscape and walked too far. Soon night was setting and we had to rush back. It was a long day and a great memory from the place they once called home.

lanikai pillbox trail
boy on the lanikai pillbox trail oahu
boy examining the view from the top of the lanikai pillbox hike oahu
mom and daughter on a windy day
night blooming cerus on the lanikai pillbox trail
girl resting on a windy ridgeline lanikai pillbox hike
family hikes along the lanikai pillbox trail at sunset
siblings taking a hike break to share a laugh
racing home at sunset from the lanikai pillbox trail

Do you have plans to visit Oahu?

Let’s plan a fun morning do something you will actually enjoy so you can make family memories and take home beautiful images. Find out more about my family photo + video sessions here.

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    Family group photo session | Before the chaos, Kualoa Oahu

    sunrise Family group photo session at kualoa oahu

    The calm before the storm

    I don’t normally get to see families at this stage. The kids are grown and coupled but there aren’t any grandchildren yet. They were visiting Oahu for a friend’s wedding and decided to make the most of their big trip with a pre-grandchild photo session.

    As soon as grandchildren arrive on the scene the vibe changes. The relaxed, party atmosphere of easy jokes quickly transitions into distracted chaos. Personally, I like the chaos that herds of grandchildren brings, but it’s fun to see this side. With one couple expecting their first baby by the end of the year, they were on the edge of change – the calm before the storm

    A Kualoa sunrise

    Kualoa Regional Park is a great option for both stunning mountain and ocean backdrops. And at sunrise, you get the park to yourself. We spent an easy morning sharing jokes and acting like kids under the warm tropical sun. After meandering around the park and taking in the views, it was time for breakfast. Still laughing the group made their way back to their cars and onto the rest of their peaceful vacation.

    family group portrait in hawaii
    oahu couples portrait at kualoa with mountains
    beach portrait of mom and adult daughters in hawaii
    hanging from a tree in hawaii
    couple snuggles against the backdrop of kaneohe bay in oahu
    adult siblings share a laugh during a family photoshoot
    dad and adult son in kaneohe bay
    couple in tall grass with mountains behind, oahu hawaii
    portrait of sisters at the beach in oahu during an extended family vacation
    couple portraits at kualoa beach park
    couple portraits
    couple celebrating their 25th anniversary in oahu hawaii

    Are you heading to Oahu for an extended family reunion?

    It can be so hard to get everyone together in one place. Make the most of your trip with a pain-free photo session so you can take home beautiful memories of your time together. Find out more about my family photography sessions here.

    Maternity Family Photo Session | All the blues of Oahu

    family with a baby walking on waimanalo beach at sunrise for a family photoshoot

    A Babymoon

    With a baby on the way, Hannah knew that their family was about to change. There’s a little sadness there – knowing your unit of three will never be again. So she wanted to make the most of it and document their special bond with a family film and photos.

    When people reach out asking for a short session because their baby/toddler/preschooler won’t last longer than 10 minutes, I think of this four hour session. It was actually closer to five, but there was a solid baby nap in there. True, it was unusually long because I was making a film and capturing a full gallery of photos, but time seemed to fly by as we enjoyed the beautiful morning.

    A tour of Waimanlo blues

    A pastel sunrise started the morning as we walked along the shore of Sherwood beach. Baby T slowly woke with elaborate stretches and yawns. He wasn’t sure what to think about the beach. Everything was new and needed to be carefully studied and examined. Different textures, sounds and smells – so much to take in.

    After a little fussing, he laid his head on dad’s shoulder on fell soundly asleep. But there was water to play to enjoy so we sat under the shade of ironwoods as enjoyed a long nap. When he awoke refreshed, it was time for round II. This time we moved further along the shore to Kaiona where an old sea wall (used to collect sea turtles for royalty) creates a protected baby beach. This was an idyllic spot to enjoy the perfect sunny afternoon.

    < click play to see their sweet family film below >

    < and see a glimpse of their photo gallery >

    baby on dads shoulder with mom looking on by little bird photography hawaii
    family hug on the beach during a photoshoot
    waimanalo sunrise for captured by oahu famiily photographer little bird
    baby on the beach
    family hug at the beach in waimanalo
    mom and baby portrait session waimanalo beach oahu
    dad playing with son on the beach
    closeup up of baby hands on driftwood
    baby practicing first steps on the beach in hawaii
    dad and baby portrait at sherwood beach
    baby with a stick
    sweet family hug during a hawaii photo session
    mom and baby portraits at waimanalo beach hawaii
    family of three beach portrait at sherwoods waimanalo
    baby blowing raspberry as mom kisses him on the cheek

    Kaiona Beach Park

    The water is much calmer at nearby Kaiona beach.

    enjoying a morning at the best baby beach on oahu
    playing in the clear blue water of waimanalo bay oahu
    family maternity portrait in clear blue water of waimanalo oahu
    baby and mom snuggle on beautiful sandy beach in hawaii
    family maternity portrait in the water in oahu
    mom and baby play on a calm beach ini oahu
    mom and baby play on a clear calm beach in hawaii
    oahu maternity photo session against a bright blue ocean in hawaii

    Are you planning a Hawaii babymoon?

    Let me help you plan a sweet morning for your growing family so you can press pause on this time in your life. Find out more about my family photography and film sessions here.

    Kailua Beach Family Photos | A brilliant Hawaii sunrise

    dad holding son in the air at sunrise at kalama beach park oahu

    A memory spark

    As much as I hate to admit it, I have a terrible memory. Growing up in the Midwest we had to take the California Achievement Tests each year and there was a memory component. I would try ridiculously hard to remember strings of nonsensical words, but I was hopeless and could never improve my scores. And my memory is not getting any better with age so I have a hard time remembering faces.

    This family, though, I remember. It was about 7 years ago that I first got to photograph a cherubic baby sitting solemnly among the flowering vines at Waimanalo Beach. I remember her chubby legs perched on her dad’s shoulders – too short yet to do anything but stick straight out. This family, those images have stayed with me and when they reach out for photos, I’m always delighted to see them again.

    Seeking the greens and blues

    Our last photo session was at Kalama Beach Park in the middle of Kailua Bay. It’s a location near and dear to my heart because it’s one of my family’s favorite beaches. Every time I shoot there, I wonder why I don’t do it more often. Perhaps because it feels like cheating to shoot so close to home? It doesn’t make sense I realize.

    We looked at alternate locations for this session but kept coming back to the lovely greens and blues of Kalama Beach and we headed back for another morning of beach fun. This family sticks in my memory for good reason. They are overflowing with love and silliness and always a joy to see.

    kailua beach family photos at sunrise
    portrait of dad and son at the beach in hawaii
    mom and daughter walk along kailua beach at sunrise
    dad and son share a laugh during a kailua family photo session
    family portrait on kailua beach
    siblings play on the beach
    family walking on kailua beach with reflections of the sky on the water
    boy investigating algae
    mom and daughter snuggle during a kailua family photo session
    girl walking in the shallows of kailua beach with mokes in the background
    dad and son walking on the beach with big trees behind
    dad and daughter laughing during a hawaii family photo session
    portrait of a family hug by hawaii family photographer little bird.
    family laughing at the beach
    girl examining pandanus fruits in kailua
    family on the beach in kailua
    boy playing in the shallows at kailua beach with cloud reflections

    Want to take home memories of your family vacation?

    No need to stand awkwardly on the beach smiling at a camera. Let me suggest some great spots where you can actually play and enjoy your time together against the beautiful backdrop of Hawaii. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here.

    Koolina Beach family photography + films | A Sweet morning

    family walking along an empty beach at koolina oahu

    Happy vibes

    Some people seem to radiate joyful vibes. I’m not sure if it was a side effect of being on vacation, but this whole family was full of joy and happiness. As soon as we met in the tiny parking lot for Paradise Cove Beach in Koolina, the kids were hopping up and down and excited to get started. They were ready for anything and the morning didn’t disappoint.

    Koolina Beach family photography

    With most of the island under cloud cover, Koolina was shining in the sun. It was built as a second Waikiki of sorts based on the amount of sunshine. As we approached the beach we heard the roar of winter waves in the distance. Some were crashing over the barrier reef sending bits of algae into the cove – perfect conditions for sea turtles. Right away, we were able to spot little heads popping up around the cove as turtles searched for their favorite snack.

    It was too chilly to join them just yet, but there were shells to find and games to play as the sun warmed up the cove. When it was finally time to jump in, the surf had increased sending waves into the cove. A bit nervous at first and then delighted, the kids surfed the little waves in pink intertubes, riding them all the way to shore. Such a fun morning, but being brave takes a toll. Exhausted and hungry it was time to move on for some lunch, but they planned to return again soon.

    < Click play to see their family film below >

    < and see their a sample of their family photos here >

    playful dad and daughter at a family photoshoot in hawaii
    mom and daughter portrait at sunrise
    mom and son share a big laugh on the beach
    happy portrait of a girl on the beach
    mom and son at the beach
    family walking along the beach with palm trees behind oahu
    family portraits in oahu
    girl giving her dad at the beach
    siblings share a sweet moment at the beach in oahu
    mom and daughter snuggle close at sunrise during a family photo shoot
    dad and son at paradise cove koolina
    best spots to find sea turtles on oahu
    dad pushing son in an intertube

    Want to capture happy times for your own family?

    Let’s head to the beach for a bit of fun and adventure. We can make sand castles, explore tide pools, play in the surf and if we’re lucky, find some sea turtles! Find out more about my fun family photography and film sessions here.


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    Serving Oahu + all Hawaiian islands

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