Family Photography and Films | A Hawaii Dream Vacation

A Dream is Born

Maddie has long dreamed of Hawaii. Visions of dancing palm trees and sparkling blue water have colored her dreams as long as she could remember. And the dolphins. Oh, the dolphins! Knowing they were out there swimming free just offshore with the possibility to see them leap and spin. Her 11-year-old body trembled with excitement.

As the leaves began to change in the midwest and winter threatened with gloomy skies, the plan, the dream started to become real. Tickets were booked for a trip in the heart of winter – a delightful shock of warmth and vitamin D to the system. Hotels were arranged, a dolphin encounter at Sea Life Park was a must along with a photo session.

Second only to dolphins was her fantasy of a photo session featuring herself as the beach queen. She would wear a long flowing dress and fragrant Haku lei as she stood at the edge of her ocean empire. The session would include her entire family, of course, but reserve a little bit of time just for her.

About the Session

Lanikai Beach has a natural bit of magic to it and sunrise there is a favorite location for family photography and films. In February, the sun rises between the twin islands making a beautiful spectacle. The glowing scene was punctuated by an outrigger canoe – a quintessential Hawaiian site.

The girls ran onto the scene in a gaggle of pink dresses. Sunrise stopped them in their tracks and their mouths fell open in delight. The light softened and we got to the business of playing and exploring.

Watch their family film here.


See a glimpse of their photo gallery here.

outrigger paddles past the mokula islands at sunrise on oahu hawaii
mom and daughter sharing a laugh on the beach in hawaii at sunrise
girl wearing a haku lei at the beach in hawaii
mom and daughters walking along the shore of lanikai beach during a family photo session in oahu
mom and daughters sharing a laugh on the beach at sunrise
girl wearing a haku lei stands by the water at sunrise in lanikai during a family photoshoot
sisters with matching joyfolie dresses playing in the water in hawaii
portrait of a girl wearing a haku lei in hawaii
portrait of a girl dancing at lanikai beach with the mokula islands in the background
a sloppy family hug at the beach in hawaii
mom spinning daughter at sunrise in lanikai during a family photo session

As the sun became firece, everyone was excited to make the transition to swimming in the cool water.

girl wearing goggles does a little jig before going into the water at lanikai beach
girl making a sand castle on the beach in hawaii
family lounging on the beach in lanikai hawaii
girl with goggles swimming underwater in hawaii
excited sisters running to the water at lanikai beach during photo session by little bird photography
couple sharing a hug in the blue waters of lanikai beach hawaii
dad helping daughters make a sand castle at lanikai beach hawaii during a Family Photography and Films session

How old were your kids when you had your last family photo session?

Let’s update your photos and have a great time doing it! Contact me to plan your own fun family photography and films today.

The Best of Waikiki for Families | Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton

A Lagoon is Born

The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon sparkles a brilliant turquoise blue from the end of Waikiki Beach. It almost glows in aerial photos and leads those in colder climes to sigh at their screens and fantasize about a tropical getaway. The Hilton invested quite a bit of money into revitalizing this former cesspool in 2006. It was once a murky gray and rumored to be full of jellyfish. Today, it’s an elegant five-acre saltwater lagoon with a built infiltration system.

The Best of Waikiki for Families?

Would I recommend the lagoon be included on a best of Waikiki list? It depends. In some ways, it’s idyllic. With sunset views, swaying palm trees and the scent of plumeria wafting through the air, it’s certainly a beautiful setting.

In addition, the lagoon is shallow and immune to big surf so it’s a great beginner beach for families with babies and toddlers. The calm water and adjacent equipment rental makes it easy to trial snorkeling or stand-up paddleboarding.

Despite all that, it’s not a personal favorite. The sand is compact and hard and on crowded summer days, the filtration system can’t keep up. Bandages float in the water and an unsettling green foam accumulates along the edges of the lagoon. I asked my 8 and 10-year-old their opinions. They said, “well, it’s water so it’s fun, but it’s kind of gross and the sand hurts my feet. Not my favorite beach”.

Best Time to Visit

On weekend evenings the crowds die down and you can delight in the contrast of locals and visitors alike frolicking in the lagoon. A scene punctuated by visits from a persistent akuu (night heron) who capitalize on slow-moving fish. It’s a nice spot to people watch as the sky ends the day with shades of pastel.

Bonus if you plan your visit on Friday nights when the Hilton Hawaiian Village hosts a short, but spectacular fireworks show. If you prefer a little distance from the noise and falling debris, you can set out a blanket on Magic Island. If you like to be close to the action, this is a great place to be.

girl looking over waikiki at sunset
kids playing with a beach ball in the hilton lagoon in waikiki
view of the hilton lagoon from the rainbow tower
girl with a beach ball and float
view of diamond head with surfers and a full moon
palm tree and hotel
boy playing the Best of Waikiki beach at the hilton lagoon
view of the hilton lagoon in waikiki
portrait of a boy at sunset in waikiki by little bird photography
sunset in waikiki oahu
girl on the beach at sunset
palm trees in waikiki with the soft pastel light after sunset
girl looking out over waikiki from the hilton lagoon Best of Waikiki

Looking for More Family-friendly Attractions in Waikiki?

Head to the other end of Waikiki Beach for a bit of surf and sun with a different view. Still hungry for more ideas? Sign up for the Little Bird Post below to get your Hawaii fix.

Beach Portraits in Paradise (Cove) | Koolina, Oahu

Ready for the Beach

The twins grasped each other’s arms and shrieked in delight as the current sucked at their feet. The duo couldn’t resist the lure of the water and they had slowly ventured further and further into the surf until an unexpected wave hit them. They tumbled over each other and fell laughing in a soggy heap. Both were thoroughly soaked. Happy, but soaked. It was near the end of our photo session and Jamie looked at her dripping children and decided to call it. With three water-loving kids on the swim team, it’s hard to keep them out of the water. Next time they vowed to bring swimsuits.

Another trip to Hawaii means another opportunity for beach portraits and two years later, we talked excitedly as we made our way down the same narrow beach path. We considered different location options, but nothing seemed quite as appealing as the perfect little cove we visited for our last photo session. We returned to the same bit of paradise – Paradise Cove Beach.

Fun Beach Portraits

The sun rising on the opposite side of the island was coloring the sky with soft pink hues. The cove was cast in shadow and remarkably still. You could tell it was going to be a hot day and envision the crowds flocking to the beach with coolers and floats in hand. A line of people in cars waiting for a parking spot would snake out into the street. At this moment, however, the beach was all ours.

We immediately got to the business of family fun. We played games, made up stories and shared bad jokes. After lots of silliness, we turned our attention to the ocean playground. By this time, the sun was warming the cove and lighting the treasures beneath. A crab. A sea cucumber. Too many colorful fish to count. The water lovers were content.

Girl on the edge of Paradise cove at sunrise in oahu
family hug during a photo session in hawaii
dad and daughter share a laugh during a photoshoot
family lounging on rocks at the beach in koolina lagoons
portrait of a girl standing in a tide pool in hawaii
dad and son exploring the rocky intertidal zone at sunrise
mom and daughters sharing a laugh on a beach in hawaii
closeup portrait of a girl with a flower in her hair
twin sisters sharing a laugh during a family photo session in hawaii
siblings sharing a laugh at the beach in oahu
girl enjoying the sunshine and beach during vacation in oahu hawaii
Hawaii family beach portraits at paradise cove in koolina
dad and daughter play catch with a beach ball at koolina lagoons
underwater portrait of a girl standing on rocks
girl playing with a beach ball during a portrait session in hawaii
girl swimming in the clear blue waters of paradise cove in koolina oahu
boy with a beach ball taking in the views
siblings exploring tide pools during a family photo session by little bird photography in hawaii
twin sisters fishing with nets in koolina oahu
siblings about to race on the beach in hawaii with clear blue water in the foreground

Does Your Family Love to Play?

Let’s talk beach portraits! I can help you plan a fun morning so you can make memories and take home meaningful images. Find out more about my fun portrait sessions here.

Large Family Photo Session | Waimanalo Beach, Oahu

A Large Family Photo Session

When you have a family of ten with kids ranging from 6 to 26-years-old organizing a family vacation feels downright heroic. The packing alone can make your head spin. That is a lot of people to organize and coral into a single location with the hopes of a memory making trip.

With a distinct age gap, the family felt divided between older kids and younger kids and April was looking forward to bridging that gap with this time together. She wanted them to play, make memories and feel like a cohesive unit. As this was very likely a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, she wanted to capture the heart of it with family photos and a film. They rented a vacation home in Waimanalo and were ready for fun.

About the Session

The original plan for this water-loving, adventurous family was to play in the waves at Sherwood Beach. However, the older kids had their own lives to attend to and we only had one day of overlap where all family members were present. And that day was cold. Are you allowed to say a day is cold when you’re in Hawaii?

The sky was thick with clouds that sat heavy on the mountains. Wind bellowed through the trees and scattered cresting waves at their peaks. I watched the scene from the warmth of my car as salt dusted the windows. It wasn’t ideal but at least it wasn’t raining.

The family arrived and spilled out of their van in high spirits. Silliness and teasing was their love language and we shared many laughs as we explored the beach.

See their sweet family film below.

See photo highlights from their large family photo session here.

Large Family Photo Session in waimanalo
girl with hair blowing on a windy beach day
sisters sharing a hug during a family photo session
family sharing stories on the beach in oahu
dad catching adult son during a family photo session
dad and son look out at the ocean during a hawaii portrait session
mom and daughter share a laugh on the beach in waimanalo
a candid family portrait on the rocks in oahu
couple on the beach in waimanalo

mom and daughters share a hug at the beach in hawaii

Do You Have a Once-in-a-Lifetime Trip to Hawaii Planned?

A trip to Hawaii is a great opportunity to update your family photos. Find out more about my fun family photography sessions here and we can plan a fun day laughing, playing and making memories.

North Shore Family Photos | Into the Jungle

North Shore Family Photos at Kawela Bay Beach Park

Torn between the dripping green forests of Oahu and the brilliant blue of the beaches, we opted for a mix of both at Kawela Bay Beach Park. It’s an odd beach park that lacks parking, facilities, and signage. If fact if you try to Google the directions, they take you to a road that doesn’t actually exist. You could easily drive past not knowing this hidden gem was waiting just off the road.

Tall banyan trees stand sentinel at the beach access point. Their long dripping roots beckon for a closer look and most definitely a climb to fully experience their beauty. You can easily get sidetracked for hours by this small swath of forest. There are sticks to collect, throw, and use for jousting. Fallen coconuts and flowers dot the forest floor. Birds hidden by the thick canopy sing unseen while lizards make dramatic displays of affection. The area is full of life and it’s a wonderful place to loose yourself for a little while.

About the Session

Beth and her family had been having a rough year. Rough years really with a seemingly endless barrage of trials to overcome. Their trip to Hawaii was meant to be an escape. A break from the chaos and an opportunity to come together and celebrate what really matters: Family. These trials had only made them stronger and our photo session was a celebration of that.

The boys were eager to explore and quick to laugh. They were in the trees out-climbing each other before I could blink. We continued to play games and share bad jokes until thick clouds rolled in and forced us to seek more light at the beach. No complaints there. We simply switched gears and continued to play and laugh and make memories.

North Shore family photos at Kawela bay beach park
mom hugging son during a family photo session by little bird photography
family photo session in the jungle in hawaii
family of six sharing laughs during a photoshoot
mom hugging son beneath a banyan tree in oahu for a family photo session
Brothers share a laugh amid the green trees of hawaii
boys exploring the forest at kawela bay
family looking out over the ocean at kawela bay
dad and four sons sharing a hug on the beach during a photography shoot
boy writing his name in the sand with a stick
family walking on the beach
mom hugging sun on the beach
mom and sons running on the beach at kawela bay
mom and son share a moment during a family photography shoot
couple sharing a laugh during a photo session on the north shore of oahu
boys walking along kawela bay

How Does Your Family Play in Hawaii?

Let’s work together to plan a fun day for your family so you can laugh and love under the golden Hawaiian sun and take home beautiful memories. Find out more about my fun family photo sessions here.