Career Day

I pulled away from the campus, having worked a day talking and teaching, full of adrenaline, excitement and passion. "I LOVED it! It was so great, I'm totally meant to share and teach!" I called my mom to elaborate on sharing at Waianae Intermediate's career day several months ago. Yes, career day. When asked I jumped at the opportunity to indulge in my job as a wedding photographer to 4 groups of middle schoolers. I meticulously designed a slideshow, devised a makeshift instax photo booth and went all out creating a promo video in hopes it would peek their interest.

Glaring deep into the glow of my laptop late the night before Marshall admittedly became frustrated. "I think you're taking this too seriously" he declared, annoyed I was putting so much energy into a presentation. But to me, this was everything. A chance to share my photography story that brought me full circle from Makaha and back, how I taught myself the trade (twice!), how I learned a business in a new state that may as well be a foreign country and how I keep doing it. Because I love it. And, of course, my adoration for film. And more than anything it was a learning experience for me. A day to hone my speaking skills, engage a tough crowd and learn to work around technical difficulties (which were plentiful).

So I packed up early and headed against morning traffic, driving to the school alone, full of nerves, eagerness and wonder. I was assigned Angel, a real gem of a student as my assistant, and hit play on my slideshow. I was happily met with wonderment and questions, mainly about how to edit Instagram photos, and hopefully saw stars dazzle in the eyes of a few budding photographers. Mostly stylish girls. I wish I had photos and video of the day, it is currently one of my favorite moments as a photographer. Thank you, Waianae Intermediate for asking me to be apart of career day last spring, I didn't want it to end.

Caroline + Jonathan + the boys

The boys ran in circles, from the ocean to the lagoon and back, collecting shells, sticks and rocks as their Dad bolding guided them through investigating a squid that had made it's way to land. They laughed and frolicking, covering themselves in the powdery white sand as their parents Caroline Tran + Jon Ly wrapped their arms tightly around the boys, then one another. Elliot stuck his tongue out to catch the rain (or anytime his curiosity struck) and Cameron cracked one-liners, dropping trou in effort to get ME to smile - clearly the charismatic one of the bunch. The hammock gently swayed, the boys played, and the ocean crashed along the rocky shoreline.

It was a pleasure to photograph such talent, Caroline! Your family is charming, energetic and so full of life! What a treat outside out my typical weddings + engagements to document your love and your sweet, sweet boys while you guys escaped from L.A. to paradise. 

 

Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo
Caroline Tran Hawaii Family Photo

Melodee + Warren

Across the lush beaches in Kahala, Warren tossed the rubbery yellow ball down the endless white stretch of sand, Kaila happily chasing along. Melodee giggled, gently taking his hand, confidently standing by his side. Together they make the perfect pair. Not only did they toast to their engagement, choosing to celebrate on their most frequented (dog friendly) beach, but also the signing of their new home the very same day. HOORAY! What bright, shiny things are ahead in your futures, I am so excited to be apart of your upcoming wedding day Melodee + Warren!

Back Home

I'm frequently asked how often I go to the east coast to visit family. The answer is simple: certainly not enough. With the long flights (9 hours if you're lucky), expensive airline costs, business scheduling and two pups, Marshall and I never ever get the opportunity to see family together. Like, ever. Despite the fact that in Virginia the majority of our family members live only 30 minutes between each other! So when Marshall had plans to stop in Appomattox between, you guessed it, softball tournaments, I made a last minute decision to pack up and shell out, venturing to Buckingham for some long overdue quality time.

It had been over a year since my last trip. A FREAKING YEAR! I won't lie, while the lack of wifi (seriously Buckingham, GET WITH THE TIMES!) and 'business guilt' tried to weigh me down (tips on how to shake this appreciated), it was absolutely well worth it. Hearing my nieces who hopped in my lap, twirling my jewelry proclaim "last time I saw you your hair was black...." was a real wake up call. I brought Korean character masks to treat the girls and my Mom and I made a day trip out of Ikea. Marshall and I even got to spend the day with my Dad, his girlfriend Lucy and Izzie, our once 3rd pup who now lives the good life in the lap of my retired father. Kristi, Marshall's mom cooked up a delicious meal (complete with my brother in-law's famous crab legs!) and hosted both our families under Laura's pavilion. We dined till we couldn't possibly eat anymore then topped it off with lime sorbet. We shopped. We laughed. We ate endless bags of Jenna's kettle korn. The kids hopped in and out of the pool a hundred times. Carolina showed me her karate moves and June got into my make-up bag. We basked in the unlimited a.c. and just as the last bit of light escaped the sky, I wandered outside, reveling in the shimmering flight of the lightening bugs. We hugged and we loved, and we vowed to return more often, together. 

Ambre + Todd

The light caught the shimmer of her golden gown and the trade wind breezed through her hair. The surfer, forever watching the waves, warned her when the tide crept by her toes, playfully swinging his wife around onto dry sand. He joked, she laughed; he wrapped his arms around her she swayed. They fully and honestly re-commited their lives and hearts to one another,  these California dwellers, high school sweethearts and fellow photographer, Ambre and Todd shared their five year anniversary recounting new vows to one another on a secluded beach in Kaua'i. Complete with rain. I mean, really!

Film: Fuji 400h Developing: Goodman Film Lab

No Good at Goodbyes.

Hawaii Fuji Instax Polaroid

 For some reason or another, I'm marvelously horrible at saying goodbye. I was shunned as my study abroad friends cried their eyes out our last morning in France and I straight up laughed. I gave pitiful excuses for goodbyes when we moved to Hawai'i and even skipped out on going to the bus when my husband deployed. For a year. TO AFGHANISTAN. I don't know what it is, but I simply can't deal. So instead, I avoid. I pretend and avoid at all costs. I am about as nonchalant and casual as they come when parting ways, consciously maneuvering through the awkward "see ya"s, unconsciously blocking the uncomfortable sensation of missing a person who's standing right in front of you. I hate lumps in my throat and Marshall may be right, I don't prefer change. So when I dropped my rattan bag to gently hug my friend B after our beach day, I made sure to keep my grip loose. Not to think the words "some day" or even let my mind consider that her little bun wouldn't be bopping alongside me on wedding days anymore. I went about the entire afternoon completely shutting off the fact that they would no longer be living in Hawai'i, for God knows how long, living God knows where. Instead we casually exchanged "have a great rest of your day!" sentiments while I hopped in the car, covered in sand, as she headed back to their VW Westfalia. Only then, and for a brief second, did I allow myself to stop feel the weight of yet another friend continuing their ventures off island. Maybe one day I will find a healthier way to manage my emotions, but for now, I'll ignore it. Thankfully, B does casual goodbyes, too.

Hawaii Polaroid
Hawaii Beach Umbrella Polaroid
Hawaii Beach Polaroid
Hawaii Beach Polaroid

B. + Tim -- it's easy to say I am excited for your adventures, but truly, I am. You guys have found one GEM of a new house on wheels and your passion and ambition to live the life you've been dreaming is inspiring. Tim, thank you for your service -- your soon to be military freedom is well deserved! Seeing your lack of hesitation for this unconventional #vanlife is infectious, do the damn thing! I am forever grateful Hawai'i was a stopover on your journey that brought you to this point and am seriously SERIOUSLY happy that we became friends along the way. Dude, your Savannagon adventures are going to be epic. I am cueing all the wanderlust already. Lots of love for your travels and prayers for cool breezes and 120 horsepower joy. :)

Savannagon VW Westfalia Hawaii
Savannagon VW Westfalia

ps:   I'm all for innovation, but whatever you do Tim, pleaseeeee, for the love of all things holy, don't build a toilet in that thing! ;)

[ Photos taken with a Fuji Instax Wide ]

Always Never Enough.

We sat across from one another, hands tightly wrapped around paper coffee cups, quickly getting to know each on the balcony of the popular Kailua cafe. 

What’s you biggest struggle today?”, I prodded. A personal question no doubt, but we had already connected as fellow photographers, sharing dreams, glories and worries as she was committed to make her passion of photography in Hawai’i come to life, an ambition I certainly could relate to. I wanted to know more.

Not being good enough,” she declared from across the round table without an ounce of hesitation. 

Yeah, me too…” I admitted, feeling the weight of my words heavy on my lips, especially on this particularly challenging day.

Modern Monstera Leaf

 

To my surprise my candid answer was met with disbelief and confusion as I explained to her the highs and lows of being a business owner, most of which fluctuate on a daily basis, and how I wake up loving my work but a barage of emails, thoughts perfect snapchats and subconscious messages from social media can keep you doubting yourself, hitting especially at lunch time on a random Thursday. I could have consciously chosen to hide my insecurities and doubts about my own talents, but I just didn’t have it in me. In the spirit of consistently oversharing, over 12 ounce lattes I unloaded on this sweet, unexpecting girl. 

YOU? How do YOU feel like you’re not good enough? Your work is great and you’ve worked hard, I can tell!”. Deep down I knew she was right. I have worked hard, real hard, have seen tangible growth and am proud I'm doing it. Like, I'm doing it. We are living in Hawai'i, going to Whole Foods for crying out loud. Still, more often than none, I have the nagging sense that’s it’s still not enough. I haven’t gotten good enough. Enough for what, I have no idea. Because it's bullshit. It's a lie. A fake scale, Ashley.

“…but your worth does not come from your work — you know that, right? It’s not what you create, do or don’t do, your worth comes from God….” I boldy wrapped up my lamenting, speaking truth to myself more than anything -- completely unaware of this budding photographers general thoughts on God -- absolutely compelled to speak honesty into her life, and well, mainly my own emotional day. 

I continued meaningful conversation with this new found friend, shared marketing ideas and uplifting one another, her invitation to coffee being a necessary treat in my day and as I left I remembered this: THIS is what I’m here for and what I love. Uplifting other women, candidly telling the truth, doing battles and life together. We may not feel like they live up or compare to what this industry’s or society’s standards are, having a hard time keeping up with a 1/3rd of our own to-do list, but that’s not the point. We are here, working hard. Not sugar coating it, not making it look like rainbows and butterflies — putting our hearts on the line. We are not the sum of how many hours we sit behind the computer, how many emails we answer in a day, or how many new ideas we dream up and immediately put to action -- after the laundry gets done. Today I may be back to feeling like a shitty photographer and crappy business person, staring down the barrel of all the would do could do should dos, eyeballing my maltese sleeping high atop a pile of dirty laundry, but that’s not who the Lord says I am. I get the pleasure of being an Entrepreneur but that that isn’t what MAKES me. We are meant for more than that — we simply get to make the world a little prettier in the process.  Most importantly, we are in this together.