Lanikai Maternity Portrait Photographer: Meet Shawn and Z

I was sitting in the Kailua Starbucks several weeks ago sipping my iced soy chai latte, and in walked one of the most radiant pregnant women I have ever seen.  Seriously, I couldn’t take my eyes off Z.  She was practically glowing. She looked so content, standing next to her husband, who bore a striking resemblance to a young Barack Obama.  So like any good photographer does when they see a beautiful subject, I boldly approached the two of them, and asked if they were in need of a maternity photographer.  Lucky for me they were.

Shawn is a military JAG (attorney) , which I think sounds so cool to say out loud, try it, “JAG.”  He’s been deployed several times already.  Z, also an attorney, is a former beauty queen, and now a new mama madly in love with her precious little son.  These two know the meaning of enduring love.  When I think of them, the lyrics from the Mumford and Sons song, I Will Wait, come to mind.

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
And bow my head
Keep my heart slow

‘Cause I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Z patiently waited and waited for Shawn to come back home to her and he did:)Now they’re celebrating the most heavenly blessing known to man – a sweet, perfect, innocent child.  Congratulations you two!

Yesterday, I got to hold a little 10 week old in my arms.  I breathed in his sweet baby scent and marveled at how tiny his little socks were.  His sleepy eyes and dreaming half-grins reminded me of when my little Ava was a teeny, tiny, lovey, too.  Now she is 17 month old toddler.  Indeed, life is a grand miracle, but a fast one too.  So hold your babies close, breathe in their sweet smell, and kiss every inch of their little, chubby bodies, a thousand times over. I know I will.


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April 10, 2013 - 7:23 pm

Marina - Wow….she is definitely the prettiest pregnant woman! I would have approached her too! lol

May 6, 2013 - 7:45 pm

ashley goodwin - yo, this spot is pretttyyyyy! :) Love the color of these, gorgeous! And good looking couple too!

July 11, 2013 - 7:28 pm

Laura Nelson - So beautiful!

Chasing the Light, Off the Beaten Path in Waimanalo

My husband and I went exploring this weekend.  Bare feet in the dirt, it’s raining but the windows are down, exploring.  Our little daughter was fast asleep in the back seat of our MINI after a long day out and about at the Honolulu Zoo.  She’d worn herself out “ooo-ing” and “ah-ing” at the monkeys, signing “turtle” repeatedly (she knows baby sign language) in happy delight, and trying her hardest to hop the fence into flamingo territory.  On our walk back to the car, we met Yurri Farrant, a medium format film photographer, who was displaying his landscapes on the roadside  in Waikiki.  He was good, really good.  So good that with one snap of the shutter, he managed to showcase Waimea Bay in all its glory, going off on a big day.  Inspired by his imagery, we decided to take the long way home.  We stopped at the Makai research pier and then found ourselves in Waimanalo chasing the dusky golden light that lit the Koolaus.  I told Ivan, ‘We should get as close as possible to that gorgeous light,” not to mention the never ending undulations of rock, varying from light to dark, dark to light.  Needless to say, the last hour of daylight on Saturday was magical.  I had two of my favorite people in the whole world with me, chasing down this golden light, taking this road, and that turn, without a care in the world. It reminded me of one of my favorite travel memories, when I was 18 in Italy.  My girlfriends and I had very little time to reach the Leaning Tower of Pisa before dark.  We got off the train and ran through the streets with our heavy backpacks, asking for directions, half understanding the Italian answers, and relying more on gestures for directions.  We made it just in time, breathless, and happy.  Enough time to snap one one of my favorite photographs that I still own.  What’s more, we met  some cute, charming Italian boys who took us out to dinner at this yummy whole in the wall.  That was fun too, really fun. As the saying goes, “Not all who wander are lost.”


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Sandy Beach on Oahu, Hawaii: Turquoise Ocean Water Photographs

The ocean has a thousand different colors to match a thousand different emotions.  The ebb and flow of each wave carries someone’s hopes and fears, someone’s dreams realized or abandoned.  When I look at the far away horizon, where the endless vast ocean meets the wide open sky, I see possibility and lots of it. The possibility of trying and failing, trying bigger and failing bigger, all the while winning because when I try, I’m trying at my dream.  Not winning in the traditional sense, money or fame, but winning in the sense that I am chasing down my dream with every last ounce of energy I have left, after being a mama and a wife and a PA.

I say all of this, because of my experience last week.  One of our patients nearly died during a routine nuclear stress test.  He went into cardiac arrest.  He was blue and pulseless.  I did CPR.  I shocked him 3 separate times and when he came too, his first question was, “What time is it?”

It took me a whole week to really process this question.  ”What time is it?”  It’s probably time to revel in life even more. To be thankful for the sun in the sweet sky.  To save every last moment of my daughter’s toddler years.  It’s time to take that return trip back to Africa.  It’s time to call my 89 year old nanee and tell her how much I love her. It’s time to remember birthdays and send Father’s Day and Mother’s Day gifts.  It’s time to date my husband again.  I mean really date him.  Plan romantic, creative, unique outings like we did in college.  Kiss him good night, every night, no matter what. It’s time to take Ava to the beach more.  It’s time to stop, what “if”ing and start doing.  It’s time to seize the day, use my God given talents and be a photographer.

So for whatever reason, even though I’ve been taking pictures my whole life, something was different when I woke up this morning.  Perhaps it was the experience of saving a man’s life 8 days ago, but when I woke up today, I thought to myself,  I am a photographer, a keeper of memories, a life historian, and a decent one at that.  I save people’s stories so long after their gone, should their favorite people forget their little nuances, the picture has a thousand words to remind them.  (Love you grandpa , next time I’ll take your picture.  I promise.)


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Sunset Ranch Wedding Photographer: Meet Julie & Scott

Meet Julie, a sweet, bubbly, bride with a humanitarian heart, and a smile twice as big.  Meet Scott, her funny, artistic husband, with mad drawing and design skills.  They met at the bowling alley, Pali Lanes, here in Kailua.  From what I hear their chemistry was palpable, the connection evident.  It was love at first sight.  They were head over heels, crazy for each other.  They were wed by Scott’s father at Sunset Ranch on the North Shore of Oahu.  Their ceremony was touching. Everyone present, joined hands and formed a large circle.  Scott and Julie’s wedding bands were then passed from hand to hand, as each friend or family member infused a blessing or well wish into their rings.  A great reminder that married people have a community of support, full of people praying for their success and happiness.  I felt very lucky to witness their commitment to one another.

Julie’s dress was simply stunning.  It was an elegant lace dress with a vintage Old World feel.  My favorite part, she wore Tom’s as her wedding shoes.  Tahiti Rey and Jason Alan provided the acoustic goodness.  The vibe was laidback and chill. It was an intimate gathering with all their favorite people.  There were lawn games and picnic blankets and horses and even a sweet aqua VW van.  Camille’s Food truck cooked up some delicious food and probably the best home made pie I have ever had in my entire life.  Try it if you haven’t.

As the day progressed, Sunset Ranch lived up to it’s name.  The blue sky faded into a rich orange, then dusky grey to a deep blue, and finally black.  There was a banyan tree with twinkle lights strung from it, set a ways apart from the reception tent.  Julie and Scott danced underneath the black sky next to the banyan roots.  They held each other close.  It was a slow, intimate quiet dance as if they were in no rush to let this moment pass.  As if no one else, nothing else mattered. They savored it.  It was my favorite tug at your heart strings moment of their entire wedding day.  A romantic, vulnerable, trust filled, memory, to save for a rain day 3 years from now.  Ok.  Lump in my throat definitely.  I’m a hopeless romantic and I love my job.  I love love and seeing other people live out their happily ever after.

Wishing you two all the happiness in the world.

-Crystal & Ivan

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February 24, 2013 - 11:18 pm

Julie Lee Smith - Absolutely beautiful and touching words and photos, Crystal!! Sniffle, sniffle…so happy, blessed, & proud that you were there to capture the vibe, energy, feelings and love of such an amazing day & night. Thank you to you and Ivan for really being a part & adding to all the love! Xoxo

February 25, 2013 - 8:20 am

Crystal Chanel - Julie,
I’m so happy you found us! Because of you I now know the amazingness of Kalapawai Cafe!