We have all heard the saying “there is always another side to the story.” For me usually the side of the story that is the least explored is what interests me the most as a photographer. I don’t know exactly where this curiosity comes from but I know when I am presented an assignment that is well visited photographically (which is the rule more than the exception) I generally start by thinking how I can try and interpret the subject differently or execute the images in my own way.
A quick story to illustrate my point. When I was living in Phoenix my wife and I went to the Phoenix Open back in 2003 or 2004. I saw the large number of photographers with their immense telephoto lenses lurking the grounds many shooting from the same vantage points with identical equipment. As my wife and I walked up to the 18th tee box I saw a single photographer set up on a hill that overlooked the 18th tee box. He was shooting with a “4 x 5″ view camera and he was the only shooter at that particular vantage point. It was late in the day and the desert light was nice and warm and I would be willing to bet he made some really nice images there. Even if he didn’t I give him kudos for at least approaching his subject matter from a unique perspective. He was creating images that no other photographer (and there were many photographers present that day) even saw and to me that is a great start.
Okay….so what does all of this have to do with paradise? Well if you have been following along recently on the blog or twitter you know that I was lucky enough to spend a couple weeks on the island of Oahu before the holidays. And while I was there I certainly took my share of standard images of the islands including beaches at sunset, palm trees, and the like but the visual from the trip that has truly stuck with me was a stretch of road that we drove along the northwest side of the island. This is a side of Hawai’i that you won’t see in any travel brochures and I felt it was something that needed to be shared.
Let me start by pointing out that I have traveled to Oahu many times. My mother Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson is a native Hawaiian who was born and raised in Oahu. In all of my trips to Oahu I don’t recall visiting the far north west end of the island. I would say it is one of the few areas of the island that is still predominantly native in population (and not a tourist destination) so it was with great sadness that we stumbled onto a stretch of tents and various structures that are currently serving as homes to a significant number of people. I shot this video as we drove south on Farrington Highway leaving Kaena Point State Park to give viewers an idea of the size and numbers of people currently living in these conditions.
My Auntie Lei lives on the west or “leeward” side of the island and during a visit with her on this trip I asked about these “camps” and she informed me that a majority of the folks living there are native Hawaiians that have been priced out of the housing market on the island and have ended up in these areas while they applied for homestead. If you aren’t familiar with homestead it dates back to 1920 when the U.S. Congress set aside roughly 200,000 acres of Hawaiian land to be leased at $1 a year to anyone with 50 percent or more Hawaiian blood. Thousands have applied for homestead but it is a time consuming process and one where there is a greater demand than available supply.
I know this isn’t an unusual scenario, our government doesn’t have a great history in dealing with native populations. And obviously there are problems with homelessness and poverty throughout the United States. However with part of my heritage coming from Hawai’i the thought of the native population being priced off of their own land not to mention the stark visual of homelessness on a beautiful stretch of beach and coastline really made an impact on me.
So what can I do about it? I am going to offer a small selection of my images from Hawai’i for sale right here on the blog. 100% of the profits will be donated to the Hawaiian Way Fund which is dedicated to to reaching hundreds of community-based organizations in Hawaii. The purpose of the fund is to enhance the well-being of Hawaii through community-based initiatives.
Here are the images:
Print sizes and cost: (*depending on the image choice print size some cropping may occur)
“5 x 7″ $50
“8 x 10″ $75
“11 x 14″ $150
“16 x 20″ $250
Tax and shipping are not included.
Custom print sizes are available.
If you are interested in any of these images please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at #(816) 298-7634.
If you would prefer to make a donation directly to the Hawaiian Way Fund you can do so at their website: http://www.hawaiianwayfund.org/