A year already in infamy that hardly needs explanation. At this point we have all been affected in one way or another from this year of chaos through COVID-19, social unrest, political soap operas, and/or financial crisis. It has been a strange year for all of us, but one that I hope makes us stronger as a nation, as a people, and as a world.
I would be remiss if I did not send out a couple THANK YOUs to those that have not only helped my business survive through shutdowns and apocalyptic forest fire smoke, but those that stood by me creatively and emotionally. The first THANK YOU goes out to my amazing customers, both returning and new, that have reached to check on the gallery and make purchases to ensure the gallery survived. You know who you are! I am forever indebted and thankful for your willingness to help a small business during these difficult times.
Secondly, I want to thank some of the best friends I could ask for: David Thompson- Thank you for the endless conversations about life, social change, politics, creativity, photography, and the nonsense. Nick Selway - Thank you for the endless laughter and jokes. CJ Kale - Thank you as always for embracing me as family and the utterly amazing Hawaii photos (more on this later). Don Hurzeler - Thank you for all your business knowledge, advice, and candor. My amazing wife Lauren, and my little family of hound dogs for being a bright light in the darkness of 2020. There are many others, but thank you all from the bottom of my heart.
With that out of the way, I would like to tell you a story of how these new photographs in the "Paradise and Pandemic" gallery came to be. It all began with a phone call to my good friends CJ Kale and Don Hurzeler expressing my desire to jump back into the barreling waves of Hawaii and try my hand at surf photography again. I had previously attempted this style of photography back in 2014 without getting much for results and had been wanting to try this again for years. We settled on a date in beginning of March 2020. Yes THAT March!
As I left from the Las Vegas airport on my flight to the Big Island the COVID-19 virus was just getting started. At the time China was struggling with the virus, Italy was getting hit hard, but the United States only had a handful of cases in New York. Drowning in a sea of naivete, I thought to myself that I could continue on my trip without much consequence. Boy was I wrong...
I arrived on the Big Island with open arms from CJ and his family. After and absolutely wonderful dinner with Don and Linda Hurzeler we began prepping and planning the next couple weeks. The primary goal was wave photography, but Hawaii has so much more to offer in terms of photography, particularly their world famous sunrise and sunsets. We found ourselves shooting some of Cj's favorite wave locations over the next week and exploring the coast line, green sea turtles, and my first trip to the remarkable Waipio Valley.
Another goal for me on this trip was to photograph the island of Oahu. Oahu was the only major island I hadn't visited or photographed yet. I had photographed the Big Island on multiple occasions, Maui twice, and Kauai once, but never Oahu. As it turns out Oahu has some of the best locations for wave photography and just happened to be where CJ grew up. It was such a pleasure visiting his home island with him and getting a first class photography tour by one of it's own.
As we neared the end of the trip it had become increasingly apparent that COVID was beginning to take a strong hold in the USA and many other parts of the world. My initial relaxed attitude toward traveling became increasingly worrisome. My original departure date was the 19th of March and in the days prior I tried desperately to get an earlier flight back to the mainland to no prevail. Rumors were swirling after the initial flight restrictions from other countries that domestic travel may soon be restricted as well. Was I going to get trapped in Hawaii? How long would I be stuck here? I guess there are worse places in the world to be stuck quarantining I thought to myself.
The 19th came and Hawaiian officials announced stay at home orders and closing of all beaches and parks. This same day I had to travel on two planes and three airports to get home. Everyone on the plane and in the airports were on edge and every sniffle or cough was met with glares of disdain. The saving grace was the flights and airports were already fairly empty at this point and it was relatively easy to "social distance" away from fellow passengers. Although another and potentially bigger problem had arose. My wife was feeling ill days before I was to arrive back home. She had been tested for coronavirus the day before and was anxiously awaiting results.
This created a very interesting problem for us. My wife had already been tested and as we awaited results I was traveling through airports during a pandemic. My wife was already considered 'High Risk" for other health conditions and the last thing I would ever want was to potentially pass on the virus to her. We decided it was best that I stay away from her for 14 days for her safety. What exactly did this mean for us? Well, it meant that I would turn my garage into a makeshift studio apartment/office where I would spend the next 2 weeks by myself. My wonderfully sweet wife would bring out dinner for most nights and my awesome father would bring us groceries or run any errands we may have needed.
My time in isolation was interesting and very reminiscent of holiday breaks during my college days. With seemingly endless free time by myself I worked on this new gallery. This also allowed me the opportunity to search through the archives of previous Hawaii photo trips and find some hidden gems that I also included in this gallery. I would work on these images until the wee hours of the night and wake up the next morning whenever I so pleased. In between it all was an abundance of drinking, catching up with friends and family, and watching or re-watching all things Star Wars.
The 14 day isolation is now nothing but a blurred memory that I can look back and laugh at. I cannot express how wonderful it was to finally reunite with my wife and smother her in hugs and kisses after almost 5 weeks apart.
I initially was going to release this gallery a long time ago back in May as I had teased on social media, but as time passed I had this overwhelming feeling of it being inappropriate during all the challenges we were facing. I was struggling to really make sense of the situation as COVID continued to spread and the call for change swept across the nation. I did not want to come across as insensitive or braggadocios while so many people were suffering and in pain. I feel now with the recent announcements of the vaccine and our political climate starting to calm that we can all start to mend and move forward.
I truly and wholeheartedly hope these images find you well and healthy and can bring some enjoyment into your lives.
And so, after all my ramblings, I would like to present you with my newest gallery, "Paradise and Pandemic."