Kimberly + Damien | Kalaupapa, Molokai Engagement

She leaned the 11 inches across our 10 seater plane, intertwining her fingers softly within his. Picnics packed, hair in rollers and both families in tow, we all said a silent but known prayer as the chartered plane hurled it's self into the cloudy sky. We circled our way past some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world, landing on the remote peninsula of Molokai; Kalaupapa: once an isolated leprosy settlement established in 1866 now refuge for the remaining residents and a place of roots for Damien's family. We quickly deboard the plane and looked around in wonderment and awe. The "airport", a tiny three-walled pavilion with several plastic chairs, greeted us, setting the tone for the true quiet and seclusion of the day. Our travel arrangements, a giant yellow school bus marked "Damien Tours", picked us up in style as everyone said their hellos and Kimberly was first introduced to Damien's grandmother. When the idea of heading to Kalaupapa, a region you must either take a tour to visit or be invited into arose, I danced with glee at the idea. Sitting across from Kimberly and Damien over Starbucks the two kept me wildly entertained. Deep into our photography consultation he recalled summers spent on Molokai as a young boy where he skipped rocks across the sea, always picturing himself taking wedding photos on the beach in front of his Grandmother's home. Being that they had not made the trip in ages, it was decided both his family and Kimmy's would head over for the day, exploring the island, connecting their past and introducing his future: Kimberly. There we were, amongst a population of less than 120, taking it all in.

Damien, named after Saint Damien who lived in isolation with the patients of Hansen's disease, rode along the back of the bumpy buss, sharing stories of jumping off the dock into deep blue waters with his soon-to-be-wife, each hopping at out memorable locations. As most days in Hawai'i the weather was ever changing but that didn't take away from the incredible views and untouched landscape of such a stunning place. We road along the island, staring deep into the mountains and laughing in thankfulness we had not booked the donkey ride down from the cliffs. (That's a thing). His family, proud to be back, and Kimmy elated to experience this soon joint piece of history.

As the 6 of us shared lunch under a pavilion waiting for the passing rain to subside, I myself couldn't help be but met with overwhelming appreciation. These were my clients who were opening their hearts and incredible family stories with me. I was getting a true V.I.P tour of Kalaupapa. I had gotten the inside scoop on stories (like how the barge from Honolulu comes once a year with everyone's new goodies!) straight from the people who had lived it. I'd had the chance to share in this piece of history alongside them. I just flew on a tiny weight-distributed plane that I maybeeeeee fudged a few pounds on the paperwork for and lived to tell the tale! This was a GREAT freaking day.

At 2:45pm, on the way to catch our 3pm flight, we stopped at Damien's family's beach house. Kimmy took his hand and under his careful instruction skipped a series of smooth, flat rocks across the crystal blue sea.

This was, by far, one of THE coolest and most adventurous days I have had as a photographer. I literally kept stopping and thinking "wow, we are DOING this. What a DAY!". Damien, thank you so much for the idea, for arranging it all and trusting me with your family heritage. And Kimberly, for being so sweet, gorgeous, and fun and bringing such fab outfits girlfriend. I know the weather was temperamental but it was nothing short of extraordinary. I dream of going back to this untouched land! Ya'll are the bomb.com.

Grateful for Hawai'i

I'm rather embarrassed to say that when the opportunity to be stationed in Hawai'i arose, I was upset. Not just upset, but kinda sorta threw a mini tantrum. I know, right? I was a complete brat who, at the time, wanted nothing more to head to back to Europe and the military was sending those dreams a crashing down. Three months studying abroad was simply not enough of croissants and Kronenburg 1664 and I needed to be back galavanting through Germany. Or England. Or SWITZERLAND, DAMMIT! Naively I had also spent time in Hawai'i as a teenager (when, let me remind you I swore to myself I would be back, I even considered going to UH I loved it so) but in reverse like an old lover remembered the bad parts of O'ahu instead of the good and chimed on and on annoyingly about how "Hawai'i isn't the paradise people think it is" (granted I had stayed in hot + dry Makaha and never saw much further than that) and sulked in my white girl tears. I just wanted to pretend to be french, uh uhh oui oui. Feel free to SMACK ME NOW. My husband certainly doesn't but he will, on occasion, remind me of how much I didn't want to come to Hawai'i and how fabulous it has turned out to be. Usually he brings this up when the opportunity for change is around the corner and I am busting out my cement, ready to pour myself into it and not budge, which brings me to my love note to the islands...

I'm Grateful to Hawai'i For:

1. Showing me what may feel like the worst thing in the world often winds up being the best thing that could have happened. Great things can sometimes be veiled as devastating and it's not until we pull back and see the bigger picture that time shows us just how much of a blessing that speed bump was. I can't even tell you how many huge disagreements, missed opportunities or simply tough work days have turned into incredible rather pivotal moments in my life and faith. I have learned this time and time again and, just like ending up in Hawai'i instead of southern France, I find growth and great purpose in the challenge and change.

2. Taking the girl out of the city. I adore Charlotte, but years of living in the young and bustling city surrounded by southern belles and shiny new things hardened my heart and left me slightly superficial. Don't get me wrong, a girl still loves her nice things! Maybe it's the make-up free atmosphere or the fact that people wear aloha shirts and slippahs when they are dressing up but I've become a lot more laid-back and carefree in my style, owning cut-offs and a t-shirt and totally legit shooting attire, and ultimately relaxed my heart. I certainly still keep myself presentable, trust me, I can only schlep it for so many days, but there's something about beach showers and going barefoot that have increased my confidence and acceptance. You didn't wash your hair? No judgement here! It's hard to explain, but there's been a shift.

3. Surrounding me in nature. I don't know what I am going to do when kayaking, snorkeling, boating, or hitting up a morning hike AREN'T daily options. Not only the mix of activities, but having interesting and fresh local produce and single fern leaves the size of your head has inspired me to venture outside more, eat healthier, and encouraged ideas throughout my brand.

4. Reintroducing me to Jesus. This one. THIS is the one that matters the most, and as ridiculous as it sounds makes me want to burst from the inside out whenever I think about it. When we moved here I was in an odd in-between stage; I had quit my job, our long awaited wedding had gone off with many speed bumps, and as excited I was for an adventure I was leaving friends and heading into the unknown. Completely depressed, I packed on a ton of extra pounds in a matter of months and was starting all over again. It was a year of drastic change and I was vulnerable and (now I can thankfully see it for what it was worth) the devil was trying to pull me down, down, down. THANKFULLY I found courage to consult in a new friend (Alyssa!) and she got me going to church with her. Lots has happened between those days crying on the floor, unable to sleep because of crazy visions flashing before me to NOW, dancing around my living room in the joy of the Lord, planning my next mission trip with Inspire Church and feeling God LITERALLY peel back layer upon layer on my life for something much bigger I NEVER would have fathomed myself, and I owe it to Hawai'i. To the friends, the church, the warm beach and the quiet times.

I don't know where we are meant to be next (hopefully it's still here for several more years...but I can always still bank of Europe, right?) but I know beyond a doubt, that Hawai'i was and is exactly where we are supposed to be right here, right now. And dang am I thankful for it.

Photos taken from a Na Pali Coast Helicopter Tour on Kaua'i. Contax 645 + Fuji 400h

CYBER MONDAY

Oh, Herro! Back on December 1st with a VENGEANCE + excitedly with some Cyber Monday deals. Am I the only one creeped out by the word "cyber"? Yes? Okay whatev.

Happily announcing 50% off ALL prints at www.AshleyGoodwinPrints.com, including client galleries, Thailand and even my favorite Hawai'i prints! All orders ship directly from my print lab straight to your door. Use the code "SPIKETHEPUNCH" at checkout all throughout the wee hours. Offer expires Tuesday, Dec. 2nd at midnight. Just added 10 new Waikiki beach photos, too, perfect to fill all those sale picture frames you snagged on Black Friday. Go check it! xo

Stop Should-ing Yourself.

Often times I find myself "should-ing" all over the place. Yeah....you heard right. "I should be blogging" or "I should really give Napoleon a bath". It's all of these obligations we give ourselves that take up space in our mind, keep us occupied in the past or present, never in the actual moment, and often times take all our hard earned money. "I really SHOULD buy this new bag...". No Ashley you should GET OFF AMAZON! Driving from a hot and sweaty yoga session this morning I passed through the mountainous range that divides part of O'ahu and through the heavy hanging rain clouds got a view of the waterfalls that sometimes make their way into the crevices between the peaks. I let all of the self devised obligations fall to the wayside as I took in the awe of this island and the beauty that surrounds me. No matter where I am I really should stop sometimes to enjoy it., shouldn't I? ;) A few snippets of Hawaii (Kaua'i + Oahu), that make me realize we really ARE #luckytolivehawaii. And that GECKO! He posed for me. ;)

My 50 Fav O'ahu Go-Tos

It's no surprise, from the cool ocean breezes to rice with every meal, living on O'ahu has truly grown to become our home. I get excited to introduce visitors to the place we love, and am thrilled myself to always explore, try out and wander new places. There's lots to do while visiting--and here are my favorite "off the beaten path" recommendations for people headed to the islands:

//BEACHES 

because that's what you came here for, right?

Lanikai + Kailua Beach Park: by far one of the prettiest coasts on island. White sand, calm, turquoise waters. It's picture perfect Hawai'i in the middle of a quaint residential neighborhood. A "must see", especially for a stunning sunrise.

Bellows Beach Park: A long, gorgeous strand of open and calm beach (sometimes with miniature waves, fun for body boarding). Military personnel have access all week, the public beach is open on the weekends. Beware of Man of War jellyfish!

Shark's Cove: Don't worry, there aren't sharks...well, in the COVE! ;) Shallow, rocky waters (bring water shoes!) perfect for relaxed snorkeling. Head to the right  just outside of the cove for deeper waters and even bigger fish! A fav snorkel spot on the North Shore.

Ko'Olina Lagoons: Want to feel the resort vibe without staying in a fancy hotel? Head out to the west side of the island and park it at one of Ko'Olina's man-made lagoons. Stay for some of the best sunset views and get THE best (and deadliest) mai-tais on island at Longboard's.

Yokohama Bay: While you're out on the west side, keep going until you can't go any further. Yokohama Bay is beautiful, with incredible views of layered mountain ranges + sometimes dolphin spotting (especially in the early morning!). Stay late into the night and get THE clearest views of the stars, sometimes even the milky way, bright as day!

Kaimana Beach: Okay, so you MUST stay in Waikiki, but hate the crowds? Head down to Kaimana beach, close to the end of Kapiolani beach park (and in front of the oceanside condos). It's less crowded, plus there are a few shops within walking distance which makes grabbing snacks and booze a breeze. Sometimes you can catch bands jamming out at Kapiolani park, too, which is a plus. Sunset out there is pretty gorgeous as well.

//HIKES 

My favorite part of O'ahu. Please remember to be kind and pack out what you took in and be thoughtful in where you park to get to these hikes!

Lanikai Pillboxes: Awesome for sunrise and views of Kailua--during the winter you can see whales breaching, too! A relatively short and easy hike with killer views, absolutely worth the effort. Just pleaseeeee be considerate of where you park within the neighborhood, and be quiet and respectful especially in the morning time.

Maunawili Falls: A fun, adventurous and downright muddy hike through the thick jungle to a waterfall + freezing cold swimming hole. Bring your bug spray and go-pro, you're gonna need it, and a swim suit, because you're definitely going to want to get in after the trek!

Diamond Head: This is definitely a 'touristy' thing to do, however heading up the mountain in a line of people is totally worth it for the gorgeous views of Waikiki!

Makapu'u Lighthouse (+/or tide pools): The trail up to the Makapu'u lighthouse is a steep one, but paved with rewarding ocean vistas. If you're looking for more, brought solid shoes and are brave enough, you can hit up the tide pools on your way down (or skip the lighthouse all together). I'm not the best with directions, but you take a right at the first whale watching sign on the lighthouse trail, then follow the white arrows spray painted on the rocks all the way down the mountain to the ocean. Yes, ALL THE WAY DOWN THAT STEEP CLIFF. It's slippery, and you don't want to die, so beware, but with tide pools (that are strong currents, watch out!) and blow holes called "dragon nostrils", it's super cool down there. Not for the novice, so do your research and please, for crying out loud, don't get swept out to sea.

Pele's chair (a.k.a. Allen Davis): people who live here are gonna kill me for this, but I don't care. Nothing is a secret, folks! If you don't feel like much of a hike and would prefer a walk, park at the Makapu'u lighthouse trail and instead of taking the paved route head through the valley (staying on the trail), toward the ocean. Sticking to the left of the little cove you will find yourself up on a mini-ocean cliff where someone repurposed an old 2x4 into a shiesty diving board. The cove is somewhat protected from strong waves via the reef, so it seems safe (enough) for jumping. Just beware, you gotta climb back up! Fun to take inter tubes to float around after you take the leap. But again...please don't get swept out to sea...

Manoa Falls: A stop on tourist trips, this is actually a beautiful waterfall that is worth the walk! A hike (that can get muddy) ends you at a gorgeous + rather tall waterfall worth getting stuck behind slow-pokes for.

//EATS

the best part of the island! Okay fine, just my personal favorite

Uncle Bo's: hands down DA BOMB. Everything is incredible, truly.

Real a Gastropub: get the chicken + waffles, deep fried deviled egg + cover your french fries in their homemade ketchup OMG.

Duke's Waikiki: sit outside (not inside) for a delicious bar menu, descent drinks, a "hawaii beachside" atmosphere + sunset. The hula pie is pretty incredible, too.

Doraku Sushi: interesting + fancy sushi in Waikiki. They have a surf + turf roll that is steak + fish that's delish!

Shokudo : in an odd part of town if you're staying in Waikiki, but their sushi is FABULOUS. The honey toast can't be missed, either. Nom nom nom.

Leonard's bakery: just go there + get a box of malasadas. Haupia is my favorite. Don't even mess with the ones without filling.  Trust me.

Yogur Story: yummy breakfast close to Waikiki! They have these waffles that are KILLER!

Dat Cajun Guy: food truck in Haleiwa on the North Shore. His New Orleans style meals are phenomenal. Seriously. I actually want some now.

Opal Thai: Thai food in Haleiwa, this place is ALWAYS poppin'.

Monkeypod Kitchen: Kinda 'fancy' but delicious food on the west side out by Ko'Olina. Good, interesting drinks and incredible live music.

Ted's Bakery: Close to sunset beach on the North Shore, this place has it ALL! AMAZING local food (chicken katsu with mac salad OMG I'm drooling) and, of course, the famous Ted's pie selection! Everyone goes crazy over the chocolate haupia but I absolutely say pick lilikoi cheesecake.

Coffee Gallery: Well, duh. ;) Coffee + baked goods on the North Shore in Haleiwa town.

Lucky Belly: Swanky asian fusion in chinatown. MAN OH MAN is their ramen soooo good.

Royal Hawaiian Sunday Brunch: All you can eat buffet. Everything you can imagine and more, all by the ocean. Just don't hope to get into a swimsuit after all that.

Crepes No Ka 'Oi: Crepes in Kailua that will have you ordering everything on the menu. Need I say more?

Cinnamon's restaurant: the wait is killer in Kailua, but it's worth it for the guava pancakes (or the island staple, loco moco!)

//EVENTS + THINGS TO DO

Tuesday +/or Friday night: get drinks by the pool at the Modern Hotel in Waikiki + watch the Hilton's firework show (it starts around 7:45pm)

Rent kayaks and paddle out to the mokes (the two islands across from Lanikai beach)

Hit up Eat the Street on a Friday night

Wander the fashionable Honolulu Night Market

Go to the Kailua Farmer's Market, or my personal favorite, the KCC by Kapiolani Community College on Sunday Mornings

Shop for souvenirs at the Aloha Stadium swap meet

Bring a blanket + a bottle of wine and watch sunset from the rocks at the Ko'Olina lagoon

See the show at the Polynesian Cultural Center (really really fun!)

Walk around downtown Honolulu, maybe even stop by Iolani Palace!

Rent beach chairs and am umbrella and park it on a beach in Waikiki

Spend a Saturday at the Hale Koa pool (military only)

Sneak into a hotel hot tub (but play it cool, duh)

Watch sunset from the top of Kailua Pillbox Hike (gotta start early, though!)

Ride all around the island on your first day! It's a must!

Rent stand-up paddle boards and try not to fall off

Jam out to local live music at Mai Tai's bar at Ala Moana shopping center

Weave through the industrial streets of Kakaako + take photos in front of the insane graffiti

Hit up a luau (of course!). Paradise Cove is my favorite.

Catch a poolside movie at the Modern Hotel (select nights)

Enjoy cocktails and sunset at Rumfire

Watch sunset + take scenic photos from atop Mount Tantalus

Catch a sunset and waikiki views on a catamaran booze cruise

Visit Doris Duke's estate Shangri La. I  haven't yet but am simply DYING to. DYING.

Here during rainy season? Learn the history of Hawai'i at the Bishop Museum.

 

What's In My Bag: Hawai'ian Islands Day Trip Essentials

This morning as I stand in line before the gates event open up and take the first flight out to the Big Island for a sunrise engagement session I know I've got everything I need for the perfect mix of work and play away while away from home. Why? Because I am a crazy packer. A little bit obsessed with just the right bag (okay, a whole lot obsessed) and functionality of things, call me a gypsy but I am always striving for the most perfect essentials that make travel a breeze. And with quick flights to other islands being Hawaii's version of a road trip, you've got to come prepared. And I, ahem, have mastered the techniques. In addition to my strategically packed camera bag loaded to the brim with batteries and film, here's what I bring for a casual day trip to another island (camera bag excluded--that's for another day).

//WHAT'S IN MY POLKA DOT BACKPACK:

Bikini: You never know when or where, but you'll totally need it. Bring it in a ziplock bag so when it's wet it doesn't get everything else soggy.

Mesh bag: I got this freebie bag from Benefit cosmetics and LOVE it. It's lightweight, easy to find things, and fits in almost every bag's pocket. I use it as my wallet/carryall.

Touch-ups: Look. I'm not worried too much about how I look, I woke up when it was still dark so cut me some slack. I do, however, peek at myself around 4 pm after wandering different beaches and gasp--you do have to get back on a plane later, and other people have to look at you. I bring a few travel size make-up goodies, as well as solid perfume (you will indefinitely smell after a full day roaming. YOU WILL. Here's my best effort at trying to cover it up). Hair-ties and bobbie pins are totally necessary. Totally.

Tiger Balm: I always carry this with me. Soothes aching feet after a wedding or shoot. The scent however is super strong, don't use in close quarters.

Charger + do-dads: A cheapo car charger (because you'll be using that iPhone camera all day), an auxiliary cord (to hook your Spotify up to the rental car and jam that 90's playlist) and an iPhone charger are key. Not having these can make or break a trip. For realz.

Lightweight towel: I love turkish towels. Lightweight, super absorbent, don't take up a lot of room in your bag and serve multiple purposes.

Extra slippahs: I usually wear shorts, a t-shirt and tennis shoes on an island trip and stash some slippahs in my bag for when I need em.

Snacks: For when you can't decide where to eat, this will hold ya over.

 

 

Maui + Oahu

My Dad + his girlfriend Lucy came to visit back in February and as we had cocktails on the beach, saw the sites, and ventured over to Maui for the Road to Hana one day, I couldn't help but document it all, taking tons of pictures while they were here. As a professional who gets paid for photos it's common to get bogged down by the thought of lugging around your gear taking more pictures, something we once did all day everyday for fun, now denoted to another task. This year I've consistently reminded myself to shift out of the mindset of work, get creative shooting again for myself, see things differently, and most of all take photos of the people and places that I love. It's good for the heart and even better for the memories. (and thanks to film, I don't have a gagillion folders to "personal photos to edit" anymore! These photos actually get to see the light of DAY!). Hip hip, hooray!

A mix of shots from O'ahu + Maui, all shot in film on a Contax 645. Some Fuji 400h + Some Portra 800. That Portra 800 looks GORGEOUS in bright daylight! Who would have thought?

Want to purchase Hawai'i prints? Click HERE!

Thrive.

"It's Allooohaaaa Fridayyyyyy, no work 'til Monnndayyyyy....".

Just kidding. Lots of weekend work 'round these parts! Yesterday I spent my lunch hour with a friend and fellow photographer Crystal where we discussed hunkering down and getting work done, what success meant to us, nailing down how much 'Hype' is just enough (whatever that could be), easily seeing each other's issues but saying "now why can't I do this for myself?!?!" and discussing the perfect tone of ombre. Having friends in the industry you adore and trust is key to growing ideas stronger, knocking out weaknesses, and unlocking desires and gifts you didn't even realize you had. Being around other Creatives is where I thrive, I love sharing, connecting and brainstorming with like-minded peers over lattes. Surround yourself with people who make your heart soar. Here's hoping no matter where you are your weekend is already off to a great start, full of relaxation, inspiration, friends + most of all LOVE!  And maybe an umbrella drink or three. xo

 

Danica.

The second time I ever hung out with Danica was when our mutual friend Carlo came to visit O'ahu. Practically everyone knows Carlo, and when he told us he wanted to head to the gastropub to meet up with Danica who also lived here I said "wait, Danica lives here, too?!?" I had met her once or twice several years earlier that feel like another lifetime ago when I was fresh out of Highschool and Carlo and I had become friends. Pulling out chairs and circling around the table, the group of us exchanged conversation and relived our Virginia memories (seeing as though myself, Marshall, Danica, her (and now our) friend Claire and visiting Carlo have all lived there). I listened to this soft spoken, gentle and downright freaking zen girl speak and thought "this isn't DANICA! I remember her...she was loud and liked to party and....this can't be the same girl...".

We laugh about that story now, as in fact she is the same girl, still a whole lotta fun, just a heck of a lot more centered. She's one of those people who can happily move somewhere they've never visited with just a suitcase and within a week be making ish happen--because she has done that, about 3 times now. She's now one of those friends that no matter where either of us go, I know we will always continue to cross paths--and love one another.

Danica, I love ya girlfriend. I am grateful for our beach days spent talking the entire time, many odd adventures kayaking, camping and wandering Waikiki, yoga and God talk, and most importantly your sincere spirit. You truly are a one-of-a-kind. A little bit of an an angel with so much love to give. I am oh so excited that your wild heart has found a new home in San Diego and see absolutely NOTHING but the best for you as you follow your dream of yoga with cancer patients.  But, we sure do miss you and your hippie beach blanket and flute over here.  ;)  xo

Up at Banzai Pipeline the tides have a tendency to create this beautiful sandbar on parts of the beach. It comes and goes, and when it's there, it's a true gem. We had the luck of getting a pool by the ocean AND some big ole waves. Perfect for yoga moves on the beach--and getting unexpected HAMMERED by surf. ;) Sorry I didn't warn ya, girlfriend. IT WAS TOO FAST (and I had a camera to worry about you know... ;)  BAH).