In September, Christian and I traveled to Hawaii with four friends: Andrew, Tyler, Tish and Tish’s boyfriend, Alex. Tish, Andrew, and Tyler all started grad school with Christian. I’ve known the three of them for over five years now. Alex is a relative newcomer–he and Tish started dating early this year–but he fits right in with the group. These are our oldest and closest friends in Santa Cruz–together we’ve celebrated birthdays, thrown parties, laid out by pools, gazed up at stars, floated rivers, spent weekends at a cabin in the woods, gone camping and backpacking, barbecued and pot-lucked, carved pumpkins, decorated cookies, watched super bowls, hosted game nights, had movie nights, thrown darts at The Poet & The Patriot, played corn hole, tossed frisbees, shot guns, visited the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, explored beaches, went out to dinners, met each other’s families, met up for drinks, danced our hearts out, talked late into nights, caught up over breakfasts, made plans and dreamed up trips. Andrew is from Hawaii, and ever since we all became friends, we’d been talking about a Hawaii trip. This September that trip came to fruition.
The beginning of our trip was filled with rain. We swam in the rain, snorkeled in the rain, ran from the grocery store to the car in the rain… It didn’t matter though–we were in Hawaii and the water was warm and the island was lush and we were on vacation with our friends. Sometimes the sun came out–warmed our faces and turned the gray clouds silver–but mostly the weather was erratic with frequent rain spats and wind gusts. I put off taking my final portraits because of the rain.
We arrived on a Friday. On Monday morning, the soggy gray clouds of the past three days burned off and the skies shone a brilliant blue. We passed the better part of that blue sky day at Kuhio Beach in Waikiki, sunbathing and people watching on the crowded, bleached-blond sand; surfing and splashing around in water the color of a seafoam green Crayola crayon. By the time we packed up and headed back to our place though, the skies had clouded over and the rain had returned. Tish and Alex were leaving the next day. Being an optimist, I thought the weather might be better in the morning. It wasn’t. So I took Tish and Alex’s portraits under skies that threatened rain, while a wind whipped their hair around. They were great sports though. And I think we got some good ones!
I took Christian, Tyler, and Andrew’s portraits on my birthday. The plan for the day was to drive to the North Shore, where we would hang out at Waimea Bay and then go intoto take some photos. For dinner I wanted dumplings and after some research, decided on Lucky Belly in Honolulu. Andrew took us to the North Shore on the Kamehameha Highway which hugged the coastline–it was postcard beaches and teal ocean waters to the right, and valleys and mountains of emerald jungle to the left. Partway through our drive, we stopped at Park to take some portraits with the scenic island of Mokoli’i (formerly known as “Chinaman’s Hat”) as a backdrop. A little further up the highway, after driving through a stretch of beachside houses and imagining what it would be like to live that close to the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at one of a half dozen shrimp trucks and got plates full of garlicky shrimp to tide us over until dinnertime. Chickens loafed in the grass around the covered picnic tables while we ate.
At Waimea Bay people cliff jumped from a large rock just off the beach. The sky was dazzling blue and the soft yellow sand was screaming hot. Overhead were large, lazy, fluffy clouds. The beach was peppered with people in bright suits on patterned towels and out in the water tiny people bobbed around leisurely in neon inner tubes. In the winter, Waimea Bay is host to the famed Quicksilver Big Wave Invitational but in the fall, the waters are calm and flat. We reclined in chairs and beach towels; I took photos of the cliff jumpers and the boys took a dip in the bay’s blue green waters. It was beautiful and serene. It was my favorite beach.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we drove into Haleiwa. The town was full of colorful plantation-era buildings with cute shops and artwork. We took our time walking around, popping into a store or two and grabbing a shave ice. On our way back to the car, we stopped on the bridge for some final portraits and then headed back to Honolulu for what turned out to be an outstanding dinner with two kinds of dumplings (pork belly bao and oxtail dumplings!). Back at our cabin for the week, the boys sang me “Happy Birthday” and I blew out the candles on a Hello Kitty Cake. I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my twenties.
My favorite portraits of Alex, Tish, Christian, Tyler, and Andrew are below. Thanks so much guys!
For more information about my portrait project go here: 29 Portraits Project.
This is the conclusion of the project. I took a total of 30 portraits and completed the project on my birthday. My goal was to take 29 portraits by my 30th birthday. Mission accomplished!
…of this project–I have more photo projects to come though, so check back soon!