I love coffee. It’s part of my daily, morning ritual, yet until I recently photographed a story entitled, “Big Island Buzz,” for Sunset Magazine, I had never known much about the process of truly hand-harvested coffee. On the Big Island of Hawaii, in an area that is located on the flanks of Mauna Loa in the Ka’u district, you’ll find one of the best areas to grow coffee in the United States. The upper elevations of the Ka’u district have the perfect climate for the coffee plants. Those conditions combined with a wonderful group of devoted coffee farmers have landed this remote location on the international coffee map in recent years. I had previously only been familiar with Kona coffee, the famed Hawaiian coffee grown around the bend on the same island. The Ka’u area still feels somewhat untouched with it’s beautiful ocean views and sparsely populated villages. During my assignment, I met two farmers who methodically harvest the ripe “cherry” on land they work by hand. Willie and Grace Tabios, who produce the award winning “Rising Sun” brand coffee, hand pick the ripe cherry, then dry and process it outdoors at their home in Ka’u. Lorie Obra does the same, and along with her daughter Joan, produces another award winning coffee from the area called, “Rusty’s.” Both of these family run coffee farms have won international coffee competitions over the last few years and their beans now command top dollar throughout the world. There is a wonderful place to see the entire process first hand in the small town of Pahala called the Ka’u Coffee Mill. There, I was walked through the entire process, from picking and processing the raw “cherry” to the roasted bean. They dry their beans by laying them out on a concrete slab outdoors. The mill processes both their own beans but also roasts for some of the locals. This facility is open to the public for tours. It was fascinating to see how the red, plump fruit was methodically turned into the warm cup of jo that I enjoy every morning. Of course, you can’t have a cup of coffee without something nice and sweet as an accompaniment. The Hana Hou restaurant, the southernmost restaurant in the US, offers a variety of delicious home-made pies along side a steaming hot cup of the local coffee. Although the article is not available to read online, I’ve put a copy of the story here for your perusal. If you would like to look at more photos of the story, you can see them on my stock photography site here. Mahalo for visiting!
Posted in assignment photography, coffee, editorial photographer, Food Photographer, Hawaii, hawaii photographer, landscape photographer, landscape photography, magazine cover, outdoors, photography, Travel, travel photographer | Tagged Big Island of Hawaii, coffee, editorial photographer, food, Food Photographer, Hawaii, island, Ka'u, Kona coffee, magazine, magazine photography, outdoors, Sunset Magazine, the Big Island of Hawaii, tourism, Travel, travel photographer, travel photography | Leave a Comment »
Last October while I was based in Maui I got an unusual assignment: to photograph an Olympic Skier. Since there’s not much snow in Hawaii, I was very curious about why an alpine skier would choose to train in a tropical climate. US Weekly publishes a Collector’s Edition for the Olympics and Julia Mancuso was to be included. You can find the special issue on the newsstands now. Ms. Mancuso is the most decorated female American alpine skier so needless to say, I was eager to work with this legendary athlete. After all, she is one to watch in the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics. We met at her home on the windward side of the island and I was immediately impressed. She was warm, welcoming and up for anything we suggested. She was comfortable in front of the camera and we got a lot of good material as a result. Seeing her with her father, Ciro, was also very sweet – a truly genuine moment of a proud father and loving daughter. I’ll post more pictures on my stock photo site later, but here is the magazine spread and a couple of behind the scenes shots from our shoot on the island. Mahalo and a hui ho!
Posted in assignment photography, editorial photographer, editorial portrait, Hawaii, magazine work, Maui, maui photographer, portrait photographer, portrait photography | Tagged alpine skier, editorial photographer, Hawaii, Julia Mancuso, magazine, magazine photography, Maui, outdoors, portrait photographer | 1 Comment »
Aloha! While I was on assignment last August in Honolulu for National Geographic Traveler Magazine, I was fortunate enough to have a few things that had to be photographed either from or in the water. One of the images I thought would be interesting to make is the classic photo of the traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe rides with Diamond Head in the background. This has been an iconic image of Waikiki since the early twentieth century as evidenced by a story that ran in the New York Tribune in 1908. Honolulu has changed enormously since then, however the ocean and the waves, along with the geologic feature of Diamond Head, remain intact. When I arrived on Oahu, I decided to head down to the beach and try to figure out a way to get in the water on a surfboard with a giant water housing and surf alongside the canoe.
How Did You Get That Shot?
The locals are one of the most invaluable resources to a travel photographer. We, the photographers and journalists, get our names placed in the magazine, but I’m of the opinion that we all owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to the people who are open to sharing their knowledge and expertise with us, the interlopers. Waikiki turned out to be no exception. I surf – a little – but not nearly enough to be able to safely operate a surfboard and camera in the crowded line up at Waikiki. When I got to Waikiki Beach, I stood in the middle of the crowd and hung around, watching to see who was the best stand-up paddle surfer. One man stood out immediately. He could easily navigate the crowds, he caught wave after wave and it was clear that he knew his way around the ocean. When he came out of the water, I asked if he’d be interested in taking me out on his SUP so that I could make pictures. Without hesitating, he said, “sure thing,” and the next thing I knew we were off for a test run. I had brought my GoPro with me to take a few test shots and also to see what it would feel like to sit on the front of a surfboard while making pictures. The test shots were a success, so we made an appointment to meet up the next day and arrange with the outrigger for us to follow them while they took out their last round of tourists towards the end of the day when the light would be good. It was a fantastic experience to ride the waves and be able to concentrate on composition and lighting while the driving was taken over by the talented local beach boy, John Paul. Here are two behind-the-scenes pictures to illustrate the crowds and how I had to ride on the front of the board shooting with a Canon 7D in an underwater housing as JP navigated us through the crowds.
Posted in adventure photographer, assignment photography, Canon 7D, editorial photographer, Hawaii, magazine work, National Gegoraphic, Oahu, outdoors, photographer, photography, surfing, Travel, travel photographer, underwater photography, Waikiki Beach | Tagged Canon, Diamond Head, editorial photographer, Hawaii, Honolulu, island, magazine photography, National Geographic, national geographic traveler, national geographic traveler magazine, outdoors, outrigger canoe, photography, stand up paddleboarding, tourism, traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe rides, Travel, travel photographer, travel photography, Waikiki, Waikiki Beach | Leave a Comment »
Aloha! Last August I was assigned to photograph a story about Honolulu written by movie star/travel writer Andrew McCarthy. This was such a fun assignment because so much of what we covered was active. We explored places in Honolulu that are interesting and yet mostly eclipsed by Waikiki and hard core tourism, yet are part of the daily life of people who live in this sizable metropolis. What comes to mind when thinking about Honolulu? For me, it’s the ocean. Waikiki beach is famous for it’s surfing, sand and sunbathing so that was part of our focus. I doubt that many people choose Oahu for its hiking options, but Andrew opens the story discussing a jungle hike with soaring views of the city fronting the impossibly blue ocean. We hiked, and photographed, the Makiki Valley trail which at one of it’s highest points terminates at a beautiful viewpoint, one I visited last year when photographing one of National Geographic Traveler’s “Travelers of the Year.” It’s a great experience to do this hike and although the trail has a good deal of elevation gain thanks to its location in the Ko’olau Mountain Range, the payoff is heading back down to the ocean for a cooling dip. The trail is lined with beautiful ficus trees, wild ginger and lots of other beautiful plants. It’s also shaded, so even if you go during the heat of the day, it’s not uncomfortably hot, unlike in other tropical locations like Thailand or Panama.
There is a great area that is starting to be developed in downtown Honolulu in an industrial zone of the city called Kaka’ao. Boutique shops, like Paiko, and concept restaurants such as Taste, have started to appear in this unexpected area of the city. There’s a wonderful coffeeshop/bookstore/art gallery called R and D that was featuring an interesting interactive installation piece while we were there. Once a month, Kaka’ao has a night market where street artists, musicians and all manner of performers demonstrate their skills along side food carts, a main stage with myriad performances, and a skate ramp where kids can demonstrate their off the lip moves out of the water. It’s great fun and there’s not a tourist in sight.
Shooting in and on the water has been a new experience for me as of late, and I enjoyed having an assignment where I could put my newly developed skills to work. I had two shots in mind that required a water housing for this story. One was shooting the famed outrigger canoe of Waikiki while riding waves in the ocean just off the beach with Diamond Head in the background, a classic view that I thought might make an energetic and historically significant image. Another was photographing George Kam, the aloha ambassador for Quicksilver, a surf and surf clothing company. Both of these images required me to be in the water to varying degrees. I work with a splash housing installed with a Canon 7D with an 18-22mm lens. There are all sorts of limitations when shooting with this setup because there’s not a lot of access to the camera controls and once you’re in the water, (unless you have an escort boat, which I didn’t), you’ve got the setup that you are stuck with.
How did you get that shot?
I’d like to discuss the opener of the story, which you can see online here.
The opening image is of George Kam sitting in the center seat of a 3 man outrigger canoe. The canoe is piloted by none other than Dale Hope and the front man is George’s brother, Kent, all amazing water-men. It was thrilling just being along for the ride. When we set sail we had perfectly calm conditions, so I brought not only my camera in its housing, I also took along a 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm lens, just in case we might be in a situation where it was going to be safe for an unprotected camera. That camera was secured in a dry bag that I could clip to the outrigger so that even if we dumped, it would stay dry and attached. We spotted some dolphins, so headed out to sea, the three paddling and me riding on the netting that is between the canoe and the outrigger. We fished for a bit and had our bait stolen, so we gave up on that and headed to where we might find some waves. That’s when things got interesting. I photographed George paddling and timed the shutter so that it coincided with his paddle moves in order for his face to be visible. Dale is visible in the back where he steers, as is a seldom seen view of the Diamond Head crater. The sun was very bright, so the best shots were when all things aligned: George had good light emphasizing his face and the vibrant colors of the outrigger and his clothes, some dynamic movement with the classic paddling technique and a sense of place, courtesy of the Honolulu skyline. I did end up getting totally drenched as we hit a wave and together threw all of our weight back so that we wouldn’t tip the canoe. It was a blast and all of my gear stayed safe and sound, thanks to a little bit of planning. Here are a few behind the scenes shots, to get a feel of what it was like to work on this component of the assignment. Aloha and mahalo for visiting my blog!
Posted in adventure photographer, assignment photography, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 7D, editorial photographer, editorial portrait, Hawaii, magazine work, National Gegoraphic, outdoors, photography, photojournalism, Travel, travel photographer | Tagged Canon, editorial photographer, George Kam, Hawaii, Honolulu, magazine photography, National Geographic, national geographic traveler, Oahu photographer, photography, photojournalism, portrait photographer, tourism, Travel, travel photographer, travel photography, water photography | Leave a Comment »
Being on board any National Geographic Expedition ship is a magnificent experience for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the incredible staff of naturalists. It’s wonderful to be having a nice cup of tea and listening to a talk about whales, then glancing out the window and seeing the very animal being discussed in its natural habitat, just off to the side of the ship. This type of expedition travel also happens to be fantastic for photography. The captain and the expedition leader make it a priority to take us to the most beautiful places. Their keen local knowledge all but guarantees an enormous amount of wildlife sighting, which makes for fantastic picture-taking opportunities.
Last August, I was invited to be the National Geographic Photography Expert on board the National Geographic Sea Bird for the expedition to Alaska’s Inside Passage. Every day was packed with great opportunities to see wildlife, such as humpback whales and bears, experience unbelievable landscapes and, using their fleet of zodiacs, get up close and personal to calving glaciers. Here are a few pictures from our first full day on board. I hope this gives a flavor of what it’s like to travel with National Geographic and I encourage you to join us for one of our many adventures throughout the world.
In a couple of weeks, I am heading next to Central America with National Geographic Expeditions, where we’ll be in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, then on board the National Geographic Sea Lion which will take us down the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica and Panama to explore the parks that are filled with wildlife, and, for the grand finale, a transit through the Panama Canal. See you on board!
Posted in adventure photographer, Alaska, Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 70-300 lens, Canon 7D, editorial photographer, Expedition, outdoors, photographer, photography, Stock Photography, Travel, travel photographer, wildlife photographer | Tagged 5D Mark III, Alaska Inside Passage, Canon, Canon 5D Mark III, editorial photographer, National Geographic, National Geographic Expeditions, National Geographic Sea Bird, national geographic traveler, nature, outdoors, Stock Photography, tourism, Tracy Arm Fjord, Travel, travel photographer, travel photography | Leave a Comment »
This was one of the most challenging assignments I’ve had in recent years. I received a call from my editor at the Smithsonian Magazine asking if I would be available to shoot in Washington, D.C. It was going to be in July, (read: hot!), and would take about a week. The editors at the magazine were busy coordinating seven photographers from around the United States, including Dan Winters, David Burnett and Albert Watson, to photograph a collection of objects at various Smithsonian Museums. I have been working in wet-plate collodion for about five years now, and was surprised to learn the photography department was interested in that work for an assignment. It was the first time anyone had ever commissioned work from me based on my “fine art” portfolio.
The title of the issue is called, “101 Objects That Made America.” The segment I photographed is entitled, “America In the World,” and all the objects that were chosen have to do with America as it relates to the world. You can see the pictures online here.
The pieces I was assigned to photograph span five centuries. The oldest “object” was a Novus Orbis map from 1532, based on tales from Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. It depicts the world as round, which at the time was a new idea, South America takes up most of that hemisphere and Cuba is where North America lies. The youngest object that I was assigned gave me the most pause and I felt a bit of a chill when the curators brought it to our makeshift studio. It is from 2001 and was donated to the Smithsonian by the New York City police. The stairwell sign from the 102nd floor of one of the twin towers that was destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th was gently put on the set. It had been found at the dump where the debris from the site had been taken in order to find any human remains or other significant evidence from that terrible day in American history.
When the issue was launched, the letter from the editor invited people to discuss the objects chosen for the special issue and to participate in a dialogue about what was included and why. I cannot imagine the vetting process of choosing only 101 objects out of 37 million. However, to be in such close proximity to things such as the Pocahontas engraving – the oldest piece in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection – was an extraordinary experience and one I will never forget.
Posted in alt process photography, assignment photography, collodion, conceptual photography, editorial photographer, fine art, fine art photography, magazine work, photographer in Portland, photography, still life photography | Tagged alternative process, ambrotypes, America, black and white photography, collodion, editorial photographer, fine art photography, magazine photography, museum, photography, Smithsonian, Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Museums, still life | Leave a Comment »
Last year, I was lucky enough to be assigned to photograph two of the 2012 Travelers of the Year for National Geographic Traveler Magazine. I wrote about it in a previous post, and a lot of what I said then remains the same today. The most interesting part of my job is having the privilege to meet and photograph many interesting people. This year was no exception. The stars aligned and it turned out that two of the nominees happened to be in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, so I ended up photographing two of the 2013 Travelers of the Year for National Geographic Traveler Magazine.
The first assignment was to photograph a couple – Seth McBride and Kelly Schwan who were preparing to leave on a year-long, 10,000-mile bicycle adventure from Portland, Oregon to Patagonia in Argentina. The most amazing part of their story is that Seth has quadriplegia and must travel using a hand-cycle. Meeting and working with these two was incredibly inspiring. We tried a couple of different approaches to making pictures of them and both of the locations ended up in the story – in print and on the web. The print version (below) shows Seth and Kelly biking on a country road outside of Portland. We got the shot by hiring a truck so I could make pictures of them while they were cycling, which was a great way to illustrate in picture precisely what they are about. You can follow them on their epic journey online via their blog, www.longroadsouth.com.
The second photo-op turned out to be another couple who are referred to in the article as the, “New Pioneers,” and their portrait ended up being the opener for the print version of the story (see below). John Ellis and Laura Preston ditched their jobs in New York City, got an airstream trailer and started on a journey that seems to keep on going. They “crowd-source” their itinerary and wound up just outside of Portland in a small trailer park along the river. John and Laura are taking advantage of being able to do their jobs on the road – they are both web developers – so they can work while exploring America. It’s an inspiring story, filled with the romance of chasing dreams while traveling and earning a living. You can follow their journey online at www.thedemocratictravelers.com.
Posted in editorial photographer, editorial portrait, magazine work, National Gegoraphic, outdoors, Pacific Northwest, photographer, photographer in Portland, photography, portrait, portrait photographer, portrait photography, Travel, travel photographer | Tagged editorial photographer, editorial portrait, John Ellis, Kelly Schwan, magazine photography, National Geographic, national geographic traveler, national geographic traveler magazine, National Geographic Travelers, outdoors, photography, portrait photographer, Seth McBride, tourism, Travel, travel photographer, travel photography, Travelers | Leave a Comment »