This one is for my friends.

Every time I have found salvation from dark periods in my life, I have my friends to thank.

Those beautiful people with kind words and warm hugs who stick by your side no matter what and I love them so much. They are the reason I smile in the morning and giggle all day long. They are my companions. We explore the earth together, sing karaoke in dive bars, take long road trips in Europe, read each other poetry and pick up the pieces for one another when everything else seems to fall apart. We understand that we are human and capable of successes and failures and that we are both fragile and resilient. We are the petals and thorns, both.

But then I also think about the friends I have lost for one reason or another and I mourn their departure from my life. But sometimes we are only meant to spend a certain amount of time with people and I guess we have to cherish the moments that we were given. Thank you, for the memories.

I think about the people in my life and I smile. I am lucky. I am blessed. I am loved. As I look around me at the people who bring me so much joy, who push me to achieve more, think deeper, feel everything; I think I am one fortunate soul. Friends are people you learn from and teach at the same time. It is a reciprocal relationship of learning and giving.

They are my salvation. My light.

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my hawaii – my heart <3

“Listen, slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid that you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember. Think of the vine that curls from the small square plot that was once my heart. That is the only marker you need. Move on. Walk forward into the light.” (Barbara Kingsolver; The Poisonwood Bible.)

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Feature: Pancakes & Hula

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“In the seventies, surfers and dreamers were finding themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. We all lived happily in little cane houses. These human scale, single-walled homes, were mostly being eaten by termites…..through the lens of my camera, I discovered myself. I was intoxicated with Hawaii and immediately set out to photograph the old Hawaiian style. I took photos everyday of a haunting and charming place.” (Sharon Britt)

Pancakes and Hula is a beautiful photography book compiled by a woman named Sharon Britt. Her photos speak of a different time; the post plantation era of Hawaii. Sharon’s images have a special place in my heart because I lived in Hawaii for five years and loved every single moment there and cherish every single memory. Her photos capture the rustic nature of the Hawaiian landscape, the unique cultural collaboration and the essence of Hawaii. Every time I look at her book my heart hurts a little bit; homesick for the home I found there. Her photos are both beautiful and quietly haunting and I think this is one of my favourite photography books to date, not only because of the subject matter but also because of Sharon’s impeccable talent for creating an image.

“I dedicate this book to a more simple time when living in a termite-eaten, single-walled house was just fine, when a luxury home was just a simple shack.” (Sharon Britt)

I want to thank, Sharon for sharing her beautiful work with the world. Mahalo.

go to: http://www.olashanalei.com/PUBLICATIONS.html  if you are interested in purchasing a copy.

Because, it is for everyone.

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I love hearing people’s stories. I feel so honoured to be given the opportunity to listen to them, to put them away inside of my head and remember them always.

Last night I met the sweetest taxi driver. He was from Uganda and he told me how much he missed his home; the land, the unique beauty of Uganda. He told me of the corruption there and why he hasn’t been able to live there for eighteen years. I heard the sadness in his voice. The undying love for the land in which he was born. I conveyed to him my longing to become a photo journalist. He said to me, “You can change the world with work like that. You can either make it  better or worse depending on the images you choose to share.”

I told him, I wanted to make it better. I wanted to try to make it better.

And then I saw something inside of him shift and he turned to me and said, “I think it’s time. Time for me to go back and save Africa. To get other people like me to go back and do something good. To return to Uganda. To teach the children of Uganda that something better is possible”

And then, I cried. I cried because I saw the determination in him to make the world better. Even against all the odds. When I see the hope and the courage in people like him, it gives me hope. I see too much suffering, too much hatred and it makes me tired. I want to be surprised by a world of forgiveness and a world of hope. And it’s people like the man I met last night who will be one of the people shaping a new and better world.

fighting, fighting to save my land

from bloodshed

like the red, dark dirt that sticks to my feet

I will fight you with ideals

until you break

because you know that no matter what,

my love will always smother your hate.

Copenhagen, Denmark.

I’ve noticed a few things about the way people live in Copenhagen. They are really efficient, practical and sustainable people and it seems as though they learn all of this from a young age. Excess is not a word that they appreciate here. Bigger is not better. Everything bought has a use and then a place in the household. Plastic bags are not rapidly handed out; in fact, you have to pay for plastic bags here which is definitely a good incentive (outside of understanding the ramifications that plastic has on the environment) to not use them. Whilst people still have cars in Denmark, the majority of people living in Copenhagen ride bikes. There are even bikes with a front carriage attached to them so that parents can ride with their children in the front. Riding makes a lot more sense, it’s healthier, it’s cheaper and it’s good for the environment. Most of the buildings here don’t even have elevators. They have stairs. I am, by default, losing weight just by walking up six flights of stairs at least five times a day.

Whilst they are some of the biggest names in the design world, their aesthetic is overtly minimal. Everything looks good but not a lot goes into making it look that way. As an impractical, clutter bug I feel like I don’t fit into this grid system yet I fully appreciate it and want to inject some of these ideals into my daily life. I want to be more efficient, practical and sustainable and why not, it makes more sense. In my travels, I have found that societies that place more importance on the community and equality are far more aware of their individual consumption. As a social democracy, the Danish people fully understand the importance of socialized medicine, welfare and taxes because they understand that everyone is deserving. They have a keen understanding of what community means. If you need help downsizing your possessions or learning how to consume less, let the Danish be your guides. Not to mention, Copenhagen is a really beautiful and happening city.

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Indeterminate state.

It’s easy to feel organized in college.  You have a desired path. You have to study to pass classes and finish classes to get your degree. You have an outcome on the horizon. The hard part comes not when you are studying but rather when you become a graduate. And here I am, a graduate traveling around Europe trying to discover what it is I want to do, where it is I want to be, how I am going to contribute to humanity and the rest of the world….the ways in which I can institute change.

Traveling is both brilliant and exhausting. Outside of college, the times that I have learned the most are the times spent on the road. Not only am I interacting with different communities and different cultures but I am also learning patience and tolerance. I find that a lot of traveling time is spent waiting. Waiting at airports, waiting at train stations, waiting for taxi’s, buses, people, waiting to meet up with friends…waiting. And a lot of the time is also spent carrying large backpacks, wheeling suitcases, holding parcels, lifting bags, shoving them into small compartments, hotel rooms, hostels, cupboards, cars. Let me assure you, I’ve built up some great arm muscles from lugging large bags around. So whilst traveling is amazing and one of the best things a human could do for personal elevation, it can be all consuming. It’s not all French champagne and truffles. It can be really tiring. But I think all of the experiences blend well together. All of the tiredness, the stress, the laughter, the education, the moments, the organizing, the last minute changes, the people; all of these things culminate into one amazing experience. It lends itself to nothing but growth.

So, what I have been motivated to do thus far in my post college career is trying to find  a way of story telling, my own and others and the two best medians I know how to convey those stories is through the written word and the lens. Although I am still a beginner in the ways of the camera, I am determined to learn. Stimulated by the amazing photographers I have around me as well as the necessity for anthropologists to collect and pass on stories, I find myself at a new point in my life. No longer longing to do my masters because it seemed like an easy next step and another two years of not having to plan my life. I actually find myself wanting to do work, to get involved, to put myself out there, to feel and use the fear inside of me and convert it into positivity. Alter the vague into something tangible. Whilst I may be in limbo, I have never felt so sure of myself. Here I am, standing at the precipice and about to embark on the rest of my life, finally.

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Perpignan, France.

There are some holidays that change your life. This has been one of them. Due to the rare combination of meeting new and amazing people who I now call my friends, spending time with the old friends that I always knew were exceptional and being exposed to inspiring work. I have learned so much in the last couple of days not only about the world of photography and photographers but also about the world in general. I think I may have found a new calling. I feel a lot of love here, a community of support and a part of the art sphere that is committed to changing and shaping the world, one image at a time.

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