Sunrise Family Photos at Lanikai Beach | The Dreamer

Photographing the Photographer

It’s always a joy to photograph another photographer’s family- get them out from behind the camera for thier own bit of adventure. They were making the long journey from Texas so we planned something special. It was supposed to be a two-part morning starting with sunrise family photos at Lanikai Beach followed by a waterfall hike to Likeke Falls. Finding a waterfall was 4-year-old Hannah’s idea and hike is perfect for kids. It’s a short hike under dense jungle canopy dripping with green vines and bright flowers. The path opens into a small clearning where the falls tumble into a shallow pool to splash in. The forecast was warm with a cool breeze. We were ready to explore.

Lanikai is for Mermaids

As soon as her toes touched the sand, Hannah was entranced by the beach. She spent time drawing in the sand with salty sticks, dancing along the shore, and humming quietly to herself. She was happily enveloped in her own private world. Mermaids were definitly involved. She’s always been comfortable in the water, swimming like a fish in pools and lakes since she was a baby. Her first time in the ocean gave her pause, but soon she fully submerged, wriggling her little body in an attempt to get a closer look at the coral. She may have used her dad as a prop.

The water was clear and warm and once she went in, she never wanted to leave. “Just a little longer”, she pleaded again and again. The weather made it near impossible to leave. It only become warmer and more inviting as the morning stretched on. We never did make it to that waterfall.

Sunrise Family photos at Lanikai Beachlanikai beach family photosgirl writing her name in the sand in hawaiimom and daughter snuggle during family beach photoshoot in hawaiicloseup of girls curls a the beachfamily photo session at lanikai beachdaughter pulling her dad at the beachfamily telling stories on lanikai beach at sunrise during family photo sessionoahu family photographer at lanikai beachgirl playing in the sand at lanikai beach hawaiigirl playing with a daisyfootprints in the sand at lanikai beachgirl walking at lanikai beach during family photoshootfun oahu family photography session at lanikaigirl riding on dads shoulders in the waves at lanikai oahugirl swimming under the water with coral head in the background in hawaiidad and daughter exploring lanikai beach for treasuresdad and daughter swimming under water in hawaiifamily playing in the water during family photo session at the beachgirl tiptoes on the beach in hawaii during fun oahu family photoshootdad and daughter swimming in clear blue waters in hawaiigirl walking on the beach during little bird photography photoshootgirl snorkels with full face snorkel mask in hawaiigirl swimming to mom in clear blue waters of hawaiigirl running on the beach with mokuluas in the background

Do you have a little mermaid in the family?

Let them loose at the beach to splash and play for a fun, stress-free photo session you will want to remember. Find out more about my family photography sessions here.

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Waimanalo Photographer | Big Surf Ahead | Oahu Family Photography

Family Photos with Teenagers

“I love all the photos of cute kids playing in your portfolio, but I have teenagers.” That was April’s main concern when she reached out for a photo session. And it’s true, young kids are good at ignoring the camera and focusing on fun. They arrive at a beach or park and immediately begin to explore and play. It’s what they do. As we get older though, we’re more prone to standing around during a photo session awkwardly wondering where to put our hands. I have a collection of the lamest jokes and silly games to get people laughing, but my best trick for capturing the fun and joyful images of teenagers (and adults) is to get them in the water. No one has the energy to be sullen and moody when there are waves to surf. You stop worrying about your hair and just have fun – like you’re a kid again.

About the Session

April’s family rented a home in Waimanalo so we met at nearby Waimanalo Bay Beach Park. They planned on getting in the water, but it had rained all night and they were reluctant to pack swimsuits in the pre-dawn chill. The get-in-the-water plan was quickly abandoned, but before we had taken many (any?) photos, the youngest was already in the water. The rhythmic motion of waves slapping the shore seemed to hypnotize him and pull him in. Before long, two more were waist deep and attempting to body surf. Even though they live nowhere near the ocean, these are water kids. They just couldn’t stay away. After a quick drive home, they returned to take on the waves with swimsuits and bodyboards in hand.

That morning brought the first big swell of the season. Waimanalo was experiencing some residual wrap around and there were some (frighteningly) big sets. The kids were unphased by the overhead waves pounding all around. Effortlessly, the navigated their body boards catching wave after wave. Meanwhile, I struggled to keep my footing and capture the scene around me. I had to duck dive the biggest waves, the pull of the surf sucking the camera from my grip. Normally, I outlast my clients, but not this time. Once teenagers start having fun, you can’t outlast them.

wide shot of a family walking toward the ocean in hawaiicouple cuddling at sunrise in waimanalo oahuportrait of a girl at the beach in waimanalo oahularge family walking along the beach at sunrise in hawaiidad and sons hugging on the beach in oahu hawaiisenior portrait at the beach in hawaiisiblings hugging during a waimanalo family photo sessionoahu senior portraits at waimanalo beachgirl body boarding with motion blursiblings surfing in waimanalo beach at sunrise in hawaiifamily bodyboarding during a photo session by waimanalo photographermom and daughters looking out a the ocean

Do you have a teenager at home who avoids your camera?

Teenagers are typically not big fans of family photoshoots, but planning a fun day they will enjoy makes all the difference. Enjoy some precious time together as a family and take away beautiful images. Find out about my custom family photography sessions here.

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Peace of Mind : Three Easy Ways to Protect Your Family Photos

I always feel a bit nostalgic at the beginning of a new year. You can find me snug on the couch enveloped in a flood of memories as I flip through photo albums. I treasure those photos. Not only does viewing the images bring me great joy, but it feels like a gift for the family. As the youngest of four, childhood photos of me are essentially non-existent. It’s a loss I feel more acutely over time. Partially because becoming a parent has left me curious about my childhood and partially because my memories seem to be evaporating with age. There is solace in the idea that I have images to anchor me in time.

I imagine that your own family photos are just as important to you. Yet their digital existence is unnervingly precarious. Each year, I have clients reach out in tears after computer crashes asking if I still have their family photos. So many things can go wrong – hard drive failure, virus infection, stolen computer, lost thumb drives – leading to devastation in a matter of moments.

As you start a new year full of potential for adventure and play, how will you protect your family photos?

3 Easy Ways to Protect Your Family Photos

protect your family photos
1. Backup your images to an External Hard Drive

Keep in mind that all drives will fail at some point. It’s just a matter of when. Some drives fail after a few months while others work for a decade or more. There is no way of knowing. For added protection, back up your main hard drive (your desktop or laptop) to an external hard drive. It’s fast, fairly cheap, easily accessible, and (relatively) safe from hackers since you control the data.

However, external drives are not very reliable. Hard drive failure rates are as high as 27% during the warranty period, which means they’re usually good for a few years. If you want to keep photos in perpetuity, plan to replace your drive periodically.

A word of caution.

Using an external backup is a great step in protecting yourself, but it has limitations. If your external hard drive is always plugged into your computer, then your data is vulnerable both to human error (accidental file deletion) and to malicious software. If your computer is infected by malware such as ransomware, it will usually encrypt files on external hard drives as well.

Additionally, if you keep your external drive in the same location as your computer, your files are vulnerable to theft and natural disaster.

To further protect yourself, only plug in your device for scheduled backups and store your drive at a secondary location (or using cloud storage).

2. Cloud backup

Storing photos “in the cloud” – basically, on someone else’s collection of hard drives – solves the problems of using local hard drives and of transferring data to new physical media. With an internet connection, it’s easy to backup data across all your devices and keeps them safe from theft and natural disaster at an offsite location. You can find a list of the best cloud storage options for photos here.

But it is important to remember that data in the cloud is not entirely safe and not under your control. The biggest risks with cloud storage are being locked out of your account, being hacked by someone who deletes all your stuff, and your storage host shutting down.  Also, be careful of services that don’t preserve your original photos exactly as you uploaded them. Some services offer cheap storage but will store them at reduced resolution.

3. Physical prints

Personally, I back up my photos with multiple external hard drives and offsite storage. What I discovered, however, is that backing up data may not be enough. Every time data is written to or read from a storage medium, there’s a chance that corruption will occur or that the medium will fail. A simple swap of 0s to 1s can render an image unreadable. Unbeknownst to me, these corrupt images were being carefully synced across all devices, replacing healthy files.

To combat this data decay, I turn to the infinitely more enjoyable option of physical prints. Prints go on the walls, in little boxes, and in stacks upon stacks of albums. A nice bonus is that many album companies store your album in case you want to print it again.

baby girl eating an apple

Now is the perfect time to combine two or three of these options to protect your images. And of course if you need to update your family photos, i’m happy to plan a memory-making morning. Find out more about my fun family photo sessions here.

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Newborn Photographer : A Beach Baby is Born

Remembering a Photo Session on Big Island

Three years ago, I packed up my gear and took a flight to Big Island for a photo session. I lingered at the Kona Airport, delighted by its charm and aloha, before heading north. Heat waves rose from the asphalt as I drove through endless lava fields. It was hot by Hawaii standards. They type of day where you sweat just by sitting still. The only glimpse of relief lies far below where tiny coves sparkled like blue gemstones. I met Pinky and her family at Mauna Kea Beach where we reluctantly left our air-conditioned cars. Baby Aria was just 5 months old and she struggled with the heat. It wasn’t until we entered the water that she began to get comfortable and relax. It was cool and peaceful as the golden light of sunset met the bright turquoise water. Those images were family favorites and brought back wonderful memories of Hawaii. That’s why when Kai was born, we knew another water photo session was essential.


A Newborn Session at Paradise Cove, Koolina

As a newborn photographer, it’s rare to get in the water during photo sessions. We were all looking forward to it, but at 2-months-old, we weren’t sure how Kai would respond to the water. Some babies (most babies?) cry as soon as a toe breaks the water’s surface. Since his sister was at home in the ocean, we were hoping Kai would feel the same. Either way, Paradise Cove at Koolina with its calm, protected lagoon is the perfect spot for an ocean introduction. After playing games, searching for critters in the tide pools, and a quick nap, it was water time. At first, Kai’s face wrinkled in unhappiness. He was about to protest, but then settled in and started kicking his legs. We were able to create another successful water portrait to match his sisters.


mom cuddling newborn baby during beach photoshootmom and daughter explore the beach at koolina lagoons during family photoshootfamily with a new baby enjoys a warm day at the beachtop of newborn babys head as he rests on momdad looks lovingly at newborn son while big sister looks onmom and newborn baby in golden sunlight at koolina beachoahu family photographer by little bird photoghraphygirl playing in the sand with golden bokeh behindmom nad daughter playing at the beach with palm trees and sunlightmom and newborn son at the beach in hawaiifamily photo session at ko olina lagoonsmom and baby captured by oahu newborn photographermom and newborn baby in koolinadad and newborn son in clear blue water of hawaii with sun flarefamily leaving the beach after a fun morning with sun and palm treesdad and daughter play in clear blue water in oahumom happily snuggling newborn baby in the water at paradise cove beach in oahufamily plays in the clear blue water of hawaiimom kisses daughter while in the water in hawaiifirst time in the ocean for a newborn baby and family in oahu

Do you have a beach-loving family?

Let’s plan a lovely morning at the beach. Take in the scenery, enjoy family time, and take home beautiful images. Find out more about my fun family photo sessions here.

What to Wear for Family Beach Portraits : Look Good and Have Fun

Deciding what to wear for family beach portraits can be stressful, but I have the simple answer for you – swimsuits. Okay, maybe not for your entire session (although it happens), but hear me out. In a previous post (Family Beach Photoshoot : Why You Should Jump in the Water), I implored you to make the most of your beach photo session and come prepared to play. Instead of holding the kids back and begging them to keep dry, let them run, splash, surf and have fun. Better yet, join them. I watch entire families transform with the magical addition of water. Because I use a water-housing for my camera, I can get close to the action and create beautiful images of pure joy.

But, there are hesitations. Completely understandable hesitations. Two are most common.

  1. We’re not comfortable in the water
  2. I do not want to be photographed in a swimsuit. No way. Not going to happen. Are you kidding me?

If you’re not comfortable in the water, but love the beach, the solution is easy. I will suggest beautiful locations around the island with calm water or tide pools so you can enjoy an easy morning making sand castles and dipping toes in the frothy surf.

For those of you love to play in the water, but don’t love the idea of being photographed in a swimsuit, I have four options to make you comfortable enough to get in the water.

4 Ideas to help you feel more comfortable getting in the water for your photo session

Ideas to help you feel more comfortable getting in the water for your photo session

4. Cover More

In recent years, swimsuits have diversified. You can opt for more coverage on top, more coverage on the bottom, or more overall. Surprisingly, one-piece swimsuits and bikinis with more coverage have never looked more stylish. Even long-sleeved suits look amazing. I put together a Pinterest board to give you a sense of swimsuit styles that photograph beautifully.

mom and daughter at beach photoshoot in hawaii

If you’re still feeling too exposed, you can turn to clothing designed for water sports. Brands like Title Nine, Athleta, and Patagonia have great options for swim shorts or board shorts and tops you can take in the water. Surf brands like Billabong have a variety of options yearround and are particularly great for kids swimwear.

family body surfing at waimanalo beach during a photo session

family watching a sea turtle in Koolina oahu

3. Cover Up

Still not feeling the swimsuit love? Another option is to add a coverup. There are a wide range of options that look great from tunics to sarongs to simple beach dresses. It’s a great way to play by the shore and still fit into the beach scene.

What to Wear for Family Beach Portraitsmom and son splashed by a big wave in oahu
2. Go Deep

Another alternative is to submerge yourself in the water. If you’re comfortable in the water, you can head for deeper depths. If you’re waist deep, the water keeps you covered. If you prefer to stay in the shallows, you can simply kneel or sit so the water can cover you like a blanket.

water portrait of a family with baby in waikaloa hawaiimom snuggling daughter in the water koolina oahufamily waiting for the next wave during their beach photoshootcouple with a baby snuggling in the water in kihei maui during a beach photoshoot

1. Appoint an ambassador

Still not sold on getting in the water? If you have water-loving kids, appoint an ambassador to take the kids in for a bit of water fun. Sometimes it’s dad, but aunts, uncles, and even grandparents have volunteered to get salty. There’s nothing like a boogie boarding grandma to make you smile. Even if you’re not getting in the water yourself, you can still be in the pictures. Just make sure your clothing is beach casual so you don’t stand out from the swimsuit clad group.

excited dad and baby playing in the water in hawaiigrandma pushing grandson in blue waters of oahu hawaiidad and son play in the sand with clear water and palm treesdad pushing daughter on bodyboard in hawaii for family photo sessionfamily playing in the water at calm koolina lagoon for photo sessiongrandma catches a wave on a bodyboard at kailua beach oahudad holding his newborn son in the water during family photoshoot in hawaii

Over the winter months it can be trickier to find good beach wear. If you’re not having luck, stop by one of the beach boutiques in Kailua, Haleiwa, or Ala Moana Mall.

Ready to book your own fun family photo session? Find out more about my sessions here. Hope to see you in the water soon!