Photography, Friendship, Film, and Making Memories in Hawaii

A couple weeks ago I was having a conversation about how I don’t shoot anything beyond commissioned work. I rarely shoot for myself, if ever.  During this conversation I said, “I’m not really passionate about photography, I’m passionate about people and about their stories. Photography is not my passion.” Yup, I said that and yes, in many ways it’s true. For example, for me photography is a tool like any other. I think of declaring my love for photography as something like a furniture maker saying that he’s passionate about his saw when it’s really the creation of something utilitarian and beautiful that his heart craves. This isn’t to say that one can’t be passionate about photography (or even saws for that matter). It’s just that for me, photography has become a means to an end. It’s the way I tell a story through my point of view. When I got into this craft I knew I wanted to shoot portraits. I never really thought of it as storytelling or documentation. But that’s exactly what portraiture is. It’s not always a long story but it’s a story nonetheless. After I said out loud that I wasn’t passionate about photography I asked myself if that was really true. It’s something I’ve said before, but the last time I said those words they stuck with me. I’m bringing this up because this Christmas my oldest friend Kelly, who also happens to be 75% of the reason I moved to NYC in the first place, had his 30th birthday and decided his way of celebrating was to rent a fatty house on the north shore of Oahu and invite his besties out for two weeks of fun in the sun. Being that Kelly is my oldest friend, we went to college together, and we live a mile apart in Brooklyn, it’s only natural that we share a number of close friends. Which is what made this trip especially awesome over just any trip to Hawaii, which, let’s be honest, would still kick-ass.

When I packed for this trip, I left my ‘work’ cameras at home and decided to stick with 90% film, (I had a small point and shoot and my iPhone), because I knew I’d never get around to editing the images, (I talked a little bit about this last year in a blog post). So after intentionally leaving my ‘work’ cameras at home, once I got to Hawaii I realized I had brought five cameras with me. Five. Not including my iPhone. Which took me back to the question: am I passionate about photography? Maybe? In truth, the answer is that I don’t really know and I think that’s okay. Simply put, I brought all those cameras and took all these photos for the same reason people hire me to do what I do. It was a very unique place under unique circumstances and I wanted all of it documented. The reason for film: because I relate editing digital photos with work and work that was the last thing I wanted to create for myself while on a vacation. Shooting film— lots of it— was the solution. With film, I just drop it off at the lab and the work is done. The best part of which is getting that little folder of prints to look through. S0-much-fun! The lab also provides digital scans (which are pretty handy for posts like this). They’re nothing fancy, we’re talking really quick and dirty scans. These are from the 1-hour photo place people so don’t judge! ;)

In all seriousness though, the people in the images below are the ones on this planet who know me best.  So much so that I got Christmas presents addressed to my various alter egos Deb and Aunt Katie, (I’ll spare you the deets on those for now).  As a group we had the chance to bond and be together in a way we haven’t really done since college.  An opportunity that seems especially important right now because many of our lives are changing faster than ever before. Careers, relationships, kids, marriage— all potential circumstances that can make trips like this less likely in the near future. This was an incredibly special week for me and so it was worthy of documentation. Like so many occasions I document for others I was able to do it for myself.  Going through these images and writing this post is a reminder that what I do is important and that’s a really good feeling. Funny how doing it for myself is such a strong reminder of that. It’s like a masseuse having her feet massaged.  All this to say photography is important whether it’s film or not; it’s about the memories and people you share them with. Photographs are how we share our lives with one another and it’s how we link back up and relive our experiences. It’s a gift.

Here’s to 2014 and the many more memories to be made! <3