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Fun Family Photography Session | Sunrise Energy

For the Love of the Beach

They like the mountains, but they love the beach. It brings them to Hawaii annually. Sometimes Maui. Sometimes Big Island, but always Hawaii and always the beach. This particular trip was extra special because they were celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary. A family photo session felt like the best way to mark the occasion.

But it had to be fun. With three energetic boys they didn’t have the patience for or really the interest in stale, posed photos. Why suffer on vacation when you can add to it with a little adventure you don’t have to plan yourself?

family beach portrait at sunrise in hawaii

Sunrise Over Laie Beach

To match their family’s energy, I wanted a location with lots of space. A place that is beautiful from every angle so they could move and play freely. There were many great contenders but in the end, we opted for a personal favorite – Laie Beach Park.

I wound my way up the windward coastline from Kailua in darkness. As sunrise drew near, the sky began to transform. I caught flashes of sky and ocean through houses and trees and along the occasional unadorned stretch of shoreline. the sky was turning a deep red-orange making it hard to keep my eyes on the road and not gawk at the bold colors. It was a full 25 minutes before sunrise and I still had miles to go. I made a mental note to get up earlier and continued on, daydreaming about teleportation.

By the time I arrived, the deep reds in the sky had been replaced by yellow as the sun was about to make its grand entrance. The boys in their button ups and polos, had a slightly restrained demeanor as we walked to the beach. Adventure lay ahead, yet they wanted to do what was expected of them and flashed trained smiles at the camera whenever I looked their way. A few games and jokes put them at easy and soon they were playing with abandon on the beach.

One of the great things about Laie Beach is its diversity. It’s more than a stretch of palm-lined sand. The short beach is bordered by rough cliffs at one end that are regularly assaulted by big waves and a stream outlet at the other end. Excellent climbing trees and roughly made tree-swings dangle over the mountain-fed water while fish forage below.

Over the course of the morning, we managed to pack it all in. We started with sunrise and tree swings on the north end before making our way to the cliffs. I cautioned them about the sharpness and salt spray, but this adventure-loving family pressed on. They easily scaled the cliffs to take in the scene from above.

With stomachs growling, we knew we were running out of time so we ended at the water’s edge. The boys challenged waves and spent the last of their energy. It was a morning packed with fun.

portrait of a boy jumping at the camera
mom and son dance in the waves at sunrise in hawaii during a Fun Family Photography Session
couple snuggles while kids play in the water at laie beach park
family portrait at a beach in hawaii
mom and son portrait at laie beach park in oahu
dad and son touch foreheads during a family photo session
black and white family portrait
dad holds son in the air during photoshoot
brothers play on a log during a hawaii portrait shoot at the beach
dad and son watch the waves in hawaii
dad and sons share a laugh during a fun portait session in hawaii
brothers walking on the beach with reflections of mountains behind at laie beach park
dad hugging son during a photo session in hawaii
brothers at the beach in hawaii
boy running from the waves at laie beach by little bird photography
mom with hair blowing in the wind
mom and son fun along tree lined shore at laie beach park during a fun family photography session
boy at the beach
family walking along the shore at laie beach in oahu
dad and son play in the waves in laie
family climbs the rocks at laie beach
brothers look out at a rough ocean from laie cliffs
family plays along the shore at laie beach park during a photoshoot
exploring the upper cliffs at laie beach
waves hit the cliffs at pounders beach in laie
brothers jumping waves at laie beach in hawaii
view of brothers playing in the water from the cliffs at pounders beach laie
couple snuggles against the backdrop of laie beach during a family photography session

Do You Have an Energetic Family?

Let me plan a morning to match your energy so you have a great time and take away memories in the form of photos and films. Find out more about a fun family photography session here.

Oahu Family Photos and Films | Slow Sunrise Over Waimanalo

Far From Home

The clouds rolled in earlier that week and stubbornly decided to stay. Thick layers of fluff blanketed the sky prompting locals to pull on sweaters and pants in the resulting chill. But for this family visiting all the way from China on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, there was no backup plan. It was their last full day on Oahu and we had no more reschedule days. We decided to chance it.

A String of Rainy Days

Feeling anxious, I arrived at Waimanalo Beach excessively early and stared out at the roiling ocean, trying to predict the future. The Makapuu cliffs were glowing an eery gold while the rest of the sky was cast in ominous shades of blue. And then the rain came.

Disheartened, I walked back to my car and watched the rain spatter on my windshield as I obsessively refreshed my weather app. Light rain for the next 10 minutes. Light rain for the next 15 minutes. I let out an audible sigh and noticed a bright spot in the distance. Jing and her family had arrived and lifted my spirits in their bright yellow clothes.

I ran out to meet them and was relieved to find them in good spirits, unfazed by the drizzle. We made our way out the beach as the rain slowed to a stop and were awed by the scene that unfolded before us. The formerly ominous skies had been replaced by soft pastels for a light, peaceful feeling.

A Happy Baby

Unsure if it would rain again, we started to play and explore right away. Baby Aaron was approaching his first birthday so this session doubled as first birthday portraits and a reminder of their time in Hawaii.

He did what babies do best. Explore the world. With his mouth, with his hands, with his toes – he was captivated by all of it. When the sun finally emerged in a burst of humidity an hour later, he was running out of steam. It was time for a well-deserved nap.

Watch their family film below

And see a sample from their family photo session here –

family with a baby walks on empty sherwood beach in waimanalo oahu
family of three laughs at the beach
adorable baby photos at the beach in hawaii
family tossing baby in air seen through the trees at sherwood forest oahu
hawaii baby photos eating a leaf at the beach
mom helping baby walk at the waters edge with reflection and mountains behind oahu hawaii
happy baby at the beach in hawaii
family explores waimanalo beach for Oahu Family Photos and Films
mom holds happy baby in the air at the beach
landscape portrait of mom and baby at waimanalo beach at sunrise in oahu hawaii by little bird photography
family of 3 in waimanalo beach during a family photo session
family holding baby in the air against a blue sky

Do You Have a Baby or Toddler?

Capturing their ever-changing stages and personalities with a family film and photos makes for a wonderful time-capsule. You will be able to return and re-live those sweet moments when they have long passed. It’s like a hug from the past. Find out more about my fun family photos and films here.

Hawaii Family Adventure | Crouching Lion Hike, Oahu

A Stop at the Beach

Crouching Lion is a short scramble of a hike with stunning views of Kahana Bay and Kaaawa. Technically, you could extend the hike by continuing up the steep, baren ridgeline towards the summit where it intersects with the Manamana Trail. That trail branches in two directions, but both options are along knife-edge ridges and not exactly family-friendly.

If you want to make a day of it, start (or end) with a visit to Kahana Bay. The beach is quiet and a little rustic. There are often tree swings and small waves to play in so bring a board or kayak and enjoy. Bonus for perfect hammock trees. If you get hungry, pick up lunch at the Waiahole Poi Factory

boy with a tree swing in hawaii
oahu family photography at kahana bay
siblings sit in a tree at kahana beach in oahu

Crouching Lion

The hike itself is narrow, steep and a bit slippery. There are ropes to aid you along the way, but it would be a tricky hike in the rain. Bring shoes with grip and be ready to sweat.

Mila’s no grip shoes made it so slippery she decided to slide most of the way back down on her butt. Although, she thought that was the best part of the hike and declared it the “best hike ever”. So maybe don’t bring good shoes?

If you have a fear of heights, it may not be your favorite hike but the views are worth it. Micah’s 4th-grade class focused on the ahupua’a system and his ahupua’a to study and present was Ka’a’awa. He forged ahead despite his fear of heights and proudly told us everything he knew.

ohai in bloom over kahana bay oahu hawaii
boy hiking up a steep trail in hawaii on the crouching lion trail
windward ocean view oahu
family hike up crouching lion in oahu, hawaii
Kahana bay viewed from crouching lion
fun family hikes in windward oahu
peek of the ocean from the crouching lion trail
summit of crouching lion for a hawaii family adventure
the windy summit of the crouching lion hike
boy hikes along the steep ridgeline in Kahana, windward Oahu
girl sliding down the steep Crouching Lion hike in Hawaii
family hiking crouching lion in oahu

Too Much Adventure for Your Family?

If you have young kids, stay ocean side at Kahana Bay a perfect spot for little explorers or add some greenery at nearby Kualoa Regional Park.

Sign up for the Little Bird Post below for more inspiration on family fun in Hawaii.

Koolina Vacation Photos | Can’t Stop the Fun

Why a Documentary Approach to Family Photos Captured Her Heart

On a whim, Stephanie booked a documentary photo session during a trip to London. She fell in love with the results. Like so many of my clients (and myself), Stephanie doesn’t love the process of family portraits. It often feels stiff and unnatural and you find yourself stressing over the results. Still, she wanted the photos so she continued to push herself and her family into these uncomfortable situations. Until London. It was a game-changer and now she seeks out this low-key, fun photo style on her travels.

family portrait at koolina lagoon oahu

A Twisted Ankle Can’t Stop the Fun

Traveling from the east coast made a morning session an easy choice, but where to go? Their vacation style is one of extreme relaxation and comfort. The kind where you’re surrounded by beauty and warmth and have tasty food at your fingertips. They planned one day of adventuring, touring the island in a fun jeep and ending with a luau, but were unsure if they wanted to schedule photos on that day.

In the end, it worked better to stay close. Their daughter, a bright, silly girl with a warm smile, twisted her ankle badly after arriving in Hawaii – a cartwheel on the beach gone wrong. To keep things simple, they decided to have their session at Paradise Cove Beach, near their hotel in Koolina.

Photos on land were a little delicate as we didn’t want her to further injure her ankle in the loose sand. As soon as it warmed up enough, we made the transition to the smooth blue water where she could move freely and without pain. They tossed a football, swam, and searched for treasure until they were shivering with cold. Despite the injury, it was the low-key morning they needed.

messy family hug during a hawaii photo session at koolina beach
couple portrait in hawaii with outrigger in the distance
mom snuggles daughter in black and white during a family photo session
Koolina Vacation Photos at paradise cove
girl laughing with sunshine behind
boy skipping rocks at paradise cove koolina
mom kissing daughter on the forehead during a family photo session
siblings share a laugh during a koolina photo session
family portrait in hawaii
mom giving son a big hug at a beach in hawaii
hawaii family beach portrait at ko olina
black and white portrait of a boy in the water at ko olina lagoon by little bird photography
over under water portrait of a girl in hawaii
boy on an intertube in the water in hawaii
family tosses a football in the water at a hawaii beach
family portrait from the clear blue water of koolina lagoon
family explores hawaii tide pool captured by hawaii photographer
girl swimming underwater with palm trees in the distance
siblings play in the shallows at paradise cove lagoon in koolina
black and white portrait of a family playing at the beach in oahu hawaii
boy with a fishing net searching for fish at paradise cove lagoon oahu

Do you Hate Have Your Photo Taken?

Me too. Avoid the awkward and let’s plan a morning that’s actually fun instead. Find out more about my salty, sun-drenched photo sessions here.

Waikiki Photographer | A Special Morning at Ala Moana Beach Park

A New Era

The trip to Hawaii was meant as a celebration. A way to mark a new era after years of hardship and deployment. This was their time and Trish wanted to highlight the occasion with an informal exchange of vows on the beach. No guests. No minister. Just an intimate sharing of words when the time felt right. She asked me to capture their morning together in a casual, unobtrusive way.

family silhouette with diamond head and waikiki in the background

Avoiding the Crowds in Waikiki

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the location. They were staying in Waikiki at the newly renovated Hale Koa Resort and wanted to stay nearby. I normally avoid Waikiki in favor of uncrowded, natural spaces around the island. However, they wanted their time in Hawaii to be as low-key and relaxed as possible so they didn’t want to rent a car. I can’t blame them as traffic and parking can be a nightmare around the city.

At the same time, they weren’t crazy about crowds. Trish, like many of my clients, described herself and her husband as awkward and uncomfortable in front of the camera. Me too, guys. Me too.

Now, this posed a bit of a dilemma because how can you stay close to Waikiki and avoid other people? I brainstormed a few options and they settled on Magic Island which sits at the tip of Ala Moana Beach Park. We would take in the lovely views of Diamond Head and Waikiki as the sun came up.

About the Session

Magic Island is a bustling scene at sunrise. As we walked out to the beach, we passed runners, joggers, and power-walkers. We past people on all manner of wheels from rollerblades to one-wheels and on the grassy lawn were scattered tai chi and stroller fitness classes. There’s a lot of fitness happening out there. Even the water was busy with swimmers, surfers, and a group practicing yoga on oversized paddleboards. It wasn’t exactly a quiet, intimate setting.

Any apprehension they felt quickly faded in the wake of their daughter’s vibrant energy. She glowed with happiness and silliness as she bounced from one parent to the next sharing her enthusiasm and love of life. All the people faded into the background and they were able to focus on their love for each other. It ended up being the beautiful, low-key morning the hoped for.

mom hugs daughter at ala moana beach park in waikiki
silhouettes in the sand at magic island
girl tickles her dad during a waikiki photo session
girl yells at the trees
mom and daughter play at magic island in waikiki
joyful girl during family portrait session in waikiki
10th-anniversary celebration in hawaii
closeup of girl hugging her parents by waikiki photographer little bird
a mini waikiki photographer captures her parents as they exchange vows
mini waikiki photographer
family portrait
girl draws a heart in the sand in waikiki beach
couple hugs during a 10th anniversary celebration in hawaii
dad and daughter play flight during a fun family photography session in hawaii
girl and her dad play at magic island in waikiki
family portrait by oahu family photographer
girl does handstands by a banyan tree is waikiki
family splashes at magic island beach outside waikiki

Need a Waikiki Photographer for Your Family Vacation?

Let’s head out for a morning adventure! Find out more about my fun family photo sessions here.

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tel : 808.783.3602

Serving Oahu + all Hawaiian islands

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