I caught a glimpse of myself in the muddied up side mirror. Wind whipping my ponytail (I whip my hair backnforth I whip my hair backnforth), my favorite blue v-neck, now bleach stained, potentially a little too deep in the v (let's just say they probably wouldn't let me in the commissary with that), mix matched bikini peeking through, completed with Addidas running shorts and slippers. (These are flip-flops of the Hawai'i 'kine). Not a stitch of make-up on my face on the way to the grocery store, I turn to my husband. "THIS! LOOK AT WHAT HAWAI'I IS DOING TO ME!". It's the local fever. I'm confident wearing bikinis and tanks into public, and feel most comfortable walking around barefoot. It's the nature of the isles, and it's what this place is all about. But trust me when I say, I get excited for a client meeting or Friday night on the town where I get the opportunity to load on the baubles and play around with my wardrobe, I will always be a girl about the glam. Windswept hair and sand covered toes just feel natural now. And not only in my wardrobe, but within my lifestyle. My shooting style has become a lot more lax (is that a word? So relaxed, it doesn't even call for the re? Let's go with it...), more of a casual observer approach, and the laid-back vibe has helped me to hone my senses. Often I will show up in neon shorts and a cute top to shoot, somehow always winding up halfway doused in ocean water or getting into my car covered in ultra fine sand. It never fails. Every. Single. Time. And I love it. I dust off my feet and I roll with it. Being barefoot is not exception, and typically is the most practical. Few things are more exciting or necessary than leaving your sparkly wedding shoes on the lawn and hustling out to the beach ceremony. If you disagree, then you have never had an inch of sand embedded into your favorite flats. It's customary to leave your shoes at the door, so a good pedicure is a must! Don't want everyone eyeballing my busted toes. But then again, sand does a number on Essie polish, so I haven't found a solution and am of no help on this one. Shooting both weddings and portrait sessions in various locations around the island I've learned the ropes and always have bug spray (Marissa and I have been mosquito dinner one too many times!) and slippers stashed in my camera bag and show up in something cool. Yeah, COOL cool, but also cooool. You have potential to turn into a sweaty mess out here! People often say "MAN! Hawai'i! How LUCKY to shoot there!". And ofcourse I would agree! I look around to the ocean and mountains every day and recognize how blessed we are to live in such a fabulous place if only for a short amount of time, but I am more thankful for the lessons it is teaching me and shaping with my camera in hand. Like shooting on the beach. Or in a lush green forest with a red dirt floor "reflecting up". Or a golden sunset. Or a couple DURING sunset--without a flash ofcourse! Homie don't play 'dat. Or on a rocky cliff but the waves are getting big and you just saw a news article where a photographer and a Bride--yeah, skip the cliffs. Shooting here has taught me to be more flexible, know the lighting in each part of town (with the mountains, this is key), and the importance of educating clients on lighting and location. But mostly the lifestyle and landscape here force you to take a chill pill and not take yourself too seriously. Hawai'i has changed me, and I love that little island in the middle of nowhere for it. But don't worry, you'll always get the glam Ashley. Well, I can't make any promises. Here's to hoping you don't bump into me at Target in my glasses and running shorts.
Some locals taking advantage of free guest chairs and good sunset view at Ko'Olina. Caught while shooting the McKellop family, and I couldn't help but giggle. Oh, the life!