I was born on the Big Island in the town of Kurtistown in 1972 to mainland-born parents who fell in love with Hawaii. I grew up as a “haole” (white person) amidst the children and grandchildren of plantation workers. Growing up in Hawaii, I remember the sugarcane plantations, the big trucks littering sugarcane remnants on the highway, and the burning of the fields.
Fast forwarding to the present, land that was once covered with sugarcane is now filled with tropical fruit trees and flowers.My family owns one of these diverse agricultural farms on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.
Having always enjoyed taking photos in high school, by the time I reached college, I fell deeply in love with photography. As a student, I worked as a photo assistant in the Art Department’s photography Lab (back when there was no digital photography), spending much quality time in the darkroom. I also shot for the school newspaper and for the Athletic Department documenting all the school athletics. Hence, the various dark rooms around campus became my second home. I fell in love with documentary photography that spoke of a specific time and place and admired the work of Sally Mann, Robert Frank and of course, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Art in Photography, my final thesis was a photo-essay about the town of Hilo on the Big Island (the second largest city in the islands). I photographed my friends, all in their early 20’s, many had young children and chose to live in the same town of which we roamed as children ourselves.
After graduation I worked in a photography studio, focusing mainly on portraits. Feeling unsatisfied with this type of photography I transferred my skills to graphic design and began working in the A/E/C industry and eventually going back to school for a Master’s degree in Communications. Presently I am working as a marketing coordinator for an architectural firm. Working in the architecture industry, I have become fascinated with our built environment and how it reflects our culture and history.
For the past eight years I have been living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now when I return to the Big Island to visit my family, I see the island with a new perspective. The homes of single-wall wood construction, peeling paint, large front porches, lava rock foundations and corrugated tin roofs are beautiful and sad at the same time. So many of these buildings have been neglected or overcome by nature.
I photograph what I see in the hopes of preserving these memories for future generations.