To photograph or not to photograph?

October 20, 2010 § 1 Comment

In late summer, I had an opportunity to travel to Kona, Hawaii; the big Island for seven days. This was more or less suppose to be a vacation, an opportunity to rest and relax, for the first time, in a long time. When possible I do like to take a weekend excursion, yet it is usually photographic related. My dilemma was to photograph or not to photograph?

It is a difficult and indecisive decision at times, as photography or art can become not only an obsession, but a way of life. The idea of simply lying around and reading a book, unless it is a compelling photography book, is difficult for me to comprehend, especially when you are surrounded by moments of eloquent light. As always, indecisiveness seems to set in, and the question became more clear; to photograph or not to photograph?

The next morning, I talked to one of the guys at the hotel, hoping he can give some leads of some of where the fisherman hang out, surfers, or more of where the local community is. He was an older caucasian man with, with a plump belly, an oval-shaped face, and white beard with plenty of aloha spirit; a Hawaiian Santa Claus. However, when I asked him about these ideas and what I hoped to photograph, he suggested I relax at the beach, and later go to the local bookstore to buy a book on the local surfers. I was bit taken back and disappointed with his suggestions, that I decided to see what I could photograph on my own.

The key to any successful project is gaining trust of those of who want to photograph and for what purpose. Day 3 was soon ending, and not much luck on any front. I decided to drive to more of the local beaches, talk to a few Hawaiians, and when I asked them if I could photograph them, they would often state, “I have aloha spirit, you should have aloha spirit too brah, and go to the beach, relax and swim, this is Hawaii brah.”  Okay, things were not going very well, and Day 4 was fast approaching. After a few mai-tais, I thought maybe this would put in the aloha spirit, but I was hoping to find a little more adventure.

The following Day, I decided to rent some snorkel gear, go to a reef and see what was underneath the water. The reef was spectacular, teeming with life of oddly shaped and colored fish. It was incredible, I just entered another world, a world I had access too, but not the right equipment. I made no attempt in finding a pro-camera rental shop that would rent such gear either. This adventure was apart of the aloha magic, something to be experienced and appreciated for what it was and in the moment. In the end, I wound up photographing the least likely suspects, and the ones who would be least bothered by my presence as a photographer, and photograph the tourist swimming at the reef. Perhaps, next time, I will choose not to photograph, yet the temptation and the desire are often, far stronger and more intriguing, than sometimes lying around reading a book or hiking on volcanos.

Day 4, rose and set, as quickly as the light, a flash, a brief the moment I spent mesmerized by the dazzling colors of the fish and their shapes. The next day was a planned a trip to Volcano National Park, yet still eager to find something to photograph and swim at the reef, I decided to skip the drive and all day hike; besides I was hoping to photograph people, interesting people, the people who live and breathe Hawaii.  I finally realized that unless you live on the island it would be a difficult project to carry out. Their have been times, when I have been able to travel to a foreign place or domestic city and photograph. However, the difference was that I had someone who help me make the connections prior to my plane landing. Since this was a vacation, I figured, I would relax.

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