When I was approached by Melveen and Gynard (aka “G”) for a coffee infused engagement session I practically jumped out of my skin! Not necessarily from all the coffee I had consumed that day, but the opportunity to visit and experience the plantation community that had put Hawaii on the proverbial “map”. Once a heavily producing sugar plantation, the area was hit hard in 1994 when the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar mill closed its doors. The transition was quite extraordinary – the rich volcanic soil, cool climate and prime location provided perfect conditions to produce amazingly flavorful and now coveted coffee beans. For years now, Kona has set the Hawaiian coffee standard, but the masters of Ka’u are pulling up from behind and continually out “roasting” the district in cup competitions and festivals alike.
Needless to say, a couple of glorious days on the big island surrounded by coffee, macadamia nuts and a visit to Punalu’u black sand beach during a tropical storm was more than paradise. And I live here! We arrived at the heat of a tropical storm complete with frequent lightning and thunder – two of my favorite conditions to photograph under. It truly is extraordinary to be able to capture what mother nature can produce and place a photographic (almost cinematic) spin on it. The light holds a contrast like no other and the deep tones of sky, land and ocean are phenomenal. A true feat of nature. Insert deliriously happy couple and wow – amazing!
G was born and raised in the heart of Ka’u. They had experienced the sugar plantations and now the ever expanding coffee empire! G’s parents, Gloria and Rogelio now own one of the most prolific and coveted farms in all of Ka’u. Home to the award winning Ka’u Royal Coffee, this amazing farm and owners will be featured in an upcoming documentary to be shot this coming summer (by moi!). So honored and elated to capture the rich family heritage.
As we drove through the picturesque fields of raw green beans creating a textural quality that is a truly unique to Hawaii. Layer upon layer the plants seemed as if to glow on either side of the road in neat little rows and the rich smell of beans being roasted filled the air. The two were so comfortable in their surroundings, which always allows for my creative juices to flow and produce outstanding results.
Ka Lae or “South Point” was next on their list of photographic destinations. Considered the southernmost tip of the big island it is also the most southern point in all the U.S. The current or “Hala’ea Current” named for a chief that was swept to his tragic demise is home to plentiful amounts of red snapper and delicious ulua. The fishing is plentiful and many spend their days pulling unsuspecting water breathers out for a hearty dinner. If cliff diving is on your bucket list (or your daily to do list) this is the place to partake. Ka Lae is an ideal spot to stop and breathe in Hawaii. The wind can be wild, but if you are too, the combination can be very romantic and breathtaking. Mel and G really enjoyed this spot – looking out over the water, breathing in the salty air, wrapped up in each other. The contrast of the rough landscape, the churning waters and a beautifully loving couple – feels as if they are lost at sea and only have each other. This was one of my favorite shots. It tells a story and could even be a metaphor for life itself, the beauty, the turmoil, the amazement, the treachery, the wonder – all the experiences to come.
This amazing couple loves photography so the emphasis on style and feeling were ultimately very important to them. Placing a subject in the area they love and seamless fusing the two really translates well in the final photographs. With a little creative approach to editing from Black Tie Photography, the result was magical.