For those of you that don’t know, we very recently started this company together and believe me when I say it’s been a pretty ‘full on’ experience. Weekends? Nah not really. Time off? Not happening. Vacations?! 100% don’t have time for that!
So when my parents asked if they could take us to visit Maui and Honolulu at the end of April, we were hesitant to say the least. Technically we didn’t have anything planned for those days and we’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii (I mean who doesn’t want to go to Hawaii…), but still a vacation for us right now just didn’t seem like a good idea. It just feels like there’s too much pressure right now with the company still just starting to get going and that kind of mindset really doesn’t lend itself to a relaxing and enjoyable holiday with family…
So I hatched a plan. Instead of just going for fun, we’d use the trip for destination portfolio. Visiting the places that Hawaii is famous for and getting photos that most people just don’t get! Lex would be the model, bringing dresses she could throw on quickly, and my parents could look after Isla while we get to work. All we needed was for the stress of it all not to turn the trip into a HUGE mess…
And luckily it didn’t! But more on that later…
Our gear list was certainly ambitious! And if you know us that’s not going to be news to you since we are always bringing a large assortment of gear to every shoot we do. Not because we are gear snobs and need the latest and greatest for every shoot, but more because we simply have a lot we need to accomplish (photo, video, behind the scenes, etc…) in the short amount of time we have and need the gear to do the job!
So with that in mind I began to assemble the gear for the shoot, reaching out to the kind folks at Sony to loan out some gear that I wanted to use in Hawaii! Namely the 24mm GMaster for astro photography and the 70-300mm for some extreme telephoto photos and video. For underwater stuff I also loaned the Sony RX100 V with the underwater housing. A smaller sensor camera with fantastic autofocus, above average video quality, and blazing fast 24fps photo bursts, but to be honest a lot bigger then the camera I was hoping to bring which was the brand new Sony RX0ii! This small gopro-like camera would have been ideal but it wasn’t available in time as it had literally JUST been released for preorder.
The rest of the gear consisted of more usual equipment:
Sony A7Riii with Sony 16-35mm f4. This was literally just for timelapses as the new firmware update had just come out, enabling in body timelapses for the A7iii and A7Riii. And obviously 42mp raw timelapses was something I just had to test out in a beautiful destination like Hawaii.
DJI Mavic Pro. A small and portable drone with pretty decent image quality. Of course the Mavic 2 Pro is the drone of the moment but for the amount that we actually fly the thing, it’s pretty far out of our price range at the moment.
Sony A6400. A pretty perfect vlogging camera with stunning autofocus, flip screen, crisp 4k, 120fps slowmotion, apsc sensor, and no overheating issues (a rarity for apsc sony cameras)! Paired with the 10-18mm or the ultra compact 16-50mm kit lens, this camera is our go-to for fun vlog style capture.
Sony A5100. Pretty much just for an extra timelapse camera or for my dad to use.
GoPro Hero 4 Black. Honestly a really dated camera now but it’s great for mounting onto the dash and getting some driving timelapses en route to location!
MeFoto Roadtrip Travel Tripod. A versatile and affordable tripod for timelapses and astro photography.
DJI Ronin S. Pretty much a waste of space… Maybe used it once and didn’t really contribute much to the overall project. But a great gimbal that we use a lot for other projects!
And aside from all that we have the Surface Book 2 to backup all our media from each day, a couple tabletop tripods to position our cameras, camera straps, gopro accessories, audio recorders for BTS audio, ND filters, batteries, memory cards, and cleaning supplies. All held in one 30L Peak Design Everyday Backpack, one Lowepro X200 AW Roller bag, and one small camera/diaper bag that Lex would carry. If you ever needed proof of just how much stuff you can pack into the Peak Design backpack, this should just about suffice…
So we packed up all that gear, Lex packed clothes and essentials for Isla, and on the morning of April 24th we made it to the YVR airport!
To my surprise getting through security was a breeze! Then we ate breakfast at Starbucks before relaxing at the gate and getting to skip the boarding lines (thanks Isla!). We even got our own row to ourselves! A huge help when we were of course worried about taking care of a toddler on an international flight.
I almost forgot about why I hated flying… but about an hour into the flight with my knees jammed into the seat ahead of me, my nose stuffy from the airplane cabin air, and my arms in an awkward position to be able to type on my laptop… I remembered.
But still we arrived in Maui in good spirits, ready to get settled in and head out for the adventure ahead!
We began our journey in Maui at Makena Beach and stumbled onto a pretty stunning scene! The sun was setting, the waves were crashing, and the sand felt like flour under our feet. Isla had a blast running around by the edge of the water, only to get lifted away as the large waves came crashing in. We spent some time with her enjoying the waves and as the sun was getting low in the sky, went off for our first photo shoot in Hawaii!
It was a pretty magical 45 minutes as the sun set behind the mountains and gave way to a wash of pink across the sky. We even got to take advantage of a rainbow that showed up before capturing the last of the good light and heading home for the night. All in all a pretty perfect way to start our trip and we were feeling good about our chances successfully working through this family vacation too!
The next day we embarked on the famous Road to Hana drive! A scenic drive along the coast of Maui but one that has become quite touristy over the years. So much so that most people get up insanely early to beat all the traffic! With Isla though, that wasn’t much of an option for us…
But I think it actually worked in our favour as we didn’t end up hitting much traffic! I think most people got up really early, like they’re supposed to, and us getting up later was actually the right move.
First stop was Twin Falls! A pretty forgettable experience if we’re honest but it was still nice to walk the trails and show Isla the rushing water. She was still excited over the previous night at the beach so of course she wanted to go in the water… something we thought was quite funny.
It’s really nice using this carrier for Isla too! It’s actually Lex’s carrier from when she was younger so it’s great that we can use it today! Isla always enjoys it and it’s really fun talking with her as we walk along.
The next stop was Ke’anae where we stopped at this really nice outlook with crashing waves for our next photo shoot!
At this point I was definitely fighting the noon day sun which wasn’t always the easiest, but using some posing techniques I think the shots turned out really well! Lex was also great at holding the pose and waiting for the big waves to splash while I shouted as loud as I could from the other side of the rocks!
After that we ate some lunch before heading onward towards our final stop at Waianapanapa National Park.
This was a location that I personally vouched for quite strongly so I was pretty ecstatic when we got here and it looked absolutely GORGEOUS! Rolling green hills, blue sky, puffy clouds, huge crashing waves, and black sand beaches to top it all off!
But unfortunately Isla had a rough nap and was really cranky getting out of the car. We finally coaxed her into the carrier but she wasn’t getting out any time soon…
So I said screw it! And we proceeded to do a shoot with Isla on my back, utilizing the black volcanic rock and tortoise blue water below!
Then, as Isla cheered up and was able to spend time with the grand parents, we ventured off and found a cool spot for another photo shoot. It was a small, steep path down to a private beach! Complete with crashing waves, black sand beaches, and absolutely. no. humans. Something of a rarity in Hawaii as it turns out!
So we ran back to the car so Lex could change and just as we were about to head back out… the weather took a turn for the worse. Or… for the better?
Ya the rain, mixed with the crash waves, dark clouds, and volcanic rock made for quite the scene! We couldn’t quite believe our eyes and felt so, so lucky that we were at the right place and precisely the right time. Lex’s blue dress looked so great billowing in the wind and we had an absolute blast with this shoot! It was great to have such a great time working while in Hawaii, something we were worried about before coming but I think this shoot really laid those worries to rest. We hustled for about 30 minutes getting as many shots as we could before heading back towards the car and finding…
A really cool cave!
Lex threw on the black outfit on one more time and we hurried to use the cave as best we could before returning back to Isla. We felt so lucky finding such amazing photo spots in just this one location and even more lucky that we could do it in such a touristy location. We left Waianapanapa really excited and feeling like we had some very unique portfolio! Hawaii photos that you don’t normally see, and hopefully we’ll be brought back here to take some more in the future!
So after reconvening with the family, we began the long drive back to our hotel, excited for what the next day would bring…
The next day we drove out to the West coast of Maui, over to Lahaina and onward to the Dragon’s Teeth at Makaluapana Point! Lahaina is famous for it’s courtyard with a truly MASSIVE Banyan Tree in the center of it. It was really cool to see all the intricate vines and branches of the Banyan tree and a lot of fun chasing Isla around the courtyard.
Then after a quick stroll around the town (we really aren’t the shopping type) we drove off to our next adventure spot: Makaluapana Point!
This spot is famous for the cool rock formations known as the Dragon’s Teeth but we found more joy in the walking around the vast cliff sides, watching the giant waves crash against the rocks. And with a location as powerful as this, you know we just had to do a photo shoot here too!
Then with the grandparents taking Isla to the beach, it was time to get to work! Starting at a lower beach area that is beside the main Dragon’s Teeth area.
Then we moved up to the Dragon’s Teeth area, but with the noon day sun and less cloud cover, this photo shoot was one of the harder spots to shoot at during our trip!
But we really love the results from this spot! Even if we suffered more then a few sunburns from shooting here…
Last but not least we ventured over to the last spot, a huge U-shaped rock formation with ocean waves smashing into the cliff sides! It was all very exciting but the sense of danger was always present as we carefully positioned ourselves on the jagged rocks, watching out for rogue waves that might come in and knock us over.
But we survived! And so happy yet again with the results!! The cliff formations combined with the turbulent water made for a truly stunning scene.
As happy as we are with the photos though, I think we mostly have a nagging feeling that we would be so much happier with a real couple to shoot, or a paid model for advertising purposes. Just something to give these images some more meaning other then just being really pretty images. But that’ll be a mission for another day, and hopefully these images will give us a future reason to come back!
For now though, we were really tired, sun burnt, and in need of some moisturizer. So we went to the closest store, before continuing on to Kaanapali Beach to catch the sunset!
We hadn’t spent any time in the water up to this point, so with Kaanapali Beach being so swimmer friendly, we decided it was time to break out the RX100 V with the underwater housing and get some shots in the water too!
Pretty good image for such a small camera! Although I’d be lying if I said it didn’t take a fair bit of editing to get the images to look the way I wanted them to…
And after enjoying yet another gorgeous Hawaii sunset, it was time to get to bed early as we were up SUPER early at 3am the next morning to catch the sunrise at the top of Haleakala! A big volcanic mountain range above the clouds famous for it’s epic sunrises.
So the next morning we drag ourselves out of bed, get our gear ready to go, and head out into the darkness. Trying to get into position at the lookout point well before the sun peaks it’s head above the clouds at 5.
We quickly set up two timelapses (one wide and one tight) and then started capturing photo and video of our surroundings. Very much aware of how awesome this all was and making sure to take full advantage of the gorgeous landscape around us.
Sunrises and sunsets are always a very interesting subject to capture since they are always so fleeting! You get a lot of time to prepare for them, capture the moments before that look quite beautiful, and then, they kind of quickly happen before vanishing away. Leaving you a little bit surprised at how fast it all went down.
All in all though I think we did a good job of capturing it all. Enough behind the scenes footage for the vlog, timelapses to show the beauty of the events unfolding, and enough photos for this blog post! Plus all our social media obligations…
And after the sun had risen, Lex took off her puffy jacket and we started our photo shoot! Again, trying to maximize our use of these epic surroundings and come away with some truly unique portfolio.
Fiery silhouettes to show off the epic beauty of the sunrise.
And some a little more balanced to show off the dress, not an easy task with such heavy backlighting!
So we turned around to focus on the other views that this spot has to offer.
Facing the other way you can enjoy a stunning view of the city below.
And to the right, an epic view of the volcanic craters below, rounding out one hell of a photo shoot location!
The photographer in me wanted to have a flash in a softbox to be able to balance the exposures, but of course setting one of those up would have brought the wrath of the park rangers upon us. Angry about how we haven’t paid their fee to let ‘professional’ photographers up to the location. So for the foreseeable future this location will probably be natural light only to circumvent any notion of professionalism and keep ourselves under the radar. Plus I was pleasantly surprised at how balanced the final results looked, as the initial raw photos had Lex’s face completely dark in an attempt to keep the bright sky somewhat exposed.
So with the photo shoot finished and the sun up high in the sky, it was time to head back and go get Isla who was spending time with Grandma.
We ate some breakfast with her and then set off once again to go see the Jurassic Park lookalike mountains at Iao Valley. A nice, easy spot to walk around at but somewhat lacking in adventure and experience. But still, quite the spectacle with all those mountains surrounding the lookout point.
And by now we were completely exhausted from the early wakeup and adventure earlier that morning. So we spent some time at the hotel and spent our last afternoon in Maui at the beach near to the hotel with Isla.
Our next adventure laid in Honolulu, a short 1 hour flight away. So the next morning we packed all our bags and said goodbye to Maui, excited for what the next half of our adventure would bring.
The flight experience was yet again a delightful experience thanks to a wonderfully well behaved Isla. I think even the guy forced to sit beside us was at least a little entertained by her antics on the flight.
But before we knew it, we were driving through the highways of Honolulu, in search of some delicious Japanese food that the region is known for! And it really didn’t take long to find some as there are hundreds of food courts and small restaurants in the area that all serve some quality Asian cuisine.
So we picked ourselves up some lunch, and drove over to Ala Moana Beach to go enjoy our afternoon in the city.
And before we knew it, it was already sundown and time to head into downtown Honolulu for some dinner. Again, excited to eat some amazing Japanese cuisine in this vibrant city!
We had an absolute blast walking the streets after dinner and playing with Isla along the way. It’s crazy to see how well she has responded to this trip and travel in general. All this stimulation and adventure really got her wild, playful side going and she was even speaking more then ever before! I was always skeptical about travel for toddlers, but this trip has convinced me that it is really great for her brain development.
But for now, it was time for bed and tomorrow we were heading East to see what the coast had to offer.
The next morning we actually began our journey by trying to hike up Diamond Head State Monument which is just 10 minutes away from the city. We severely underestimated the traffic though and were met with completely full parking lots…
No worries though we can always circle back to this one.
So instead we hit up the Lanai Lookout! Wandering around the alien-like cliff sides and through a lava tube that burrowed through the coastal highway.
But before long, we also had to take advantage of this place and get some portfolio here! So we got our gear out of the trunk and stumbled on some truly epic cliff-side scenery.
And with that location spent, we went in search of another. Quickly finding a cool little spot where Lex could lay on with a gorgeous background behind her!
Then the rain clouds rolled through and in an effort to keep the adventure going, we decided to drive back to the Diamond Head Monument in the hopes the clouds had already passed. And luckily, they had!
So we took our opportunity with a somewhat vacant parking lot and started our ascent up the volcanic crater that is Diamond Head.
Some spectacular views but overall, a bit forgettable as an experience. I think it’s safe to say the crowds really ruin the experience as the hike is so close to the city that a TON of people spend the afternoon making their way up the volcano. So if you can somehow get there while it’s empty then go for it, but otherwise I’d skip this one.
Nevertheless it was a fun afternoon and we made our way back to the city to relax at the beach with Isla. With all the hustle going to different locations and getting great portfolio, we found we were forgetting about Isla’s experience in all this and wanted to make sure we set aside some time for her. So we walked down to Ala Moana Beach yet again, this time with swim suits on.
And then we were in for an early night, waking up extremely early the next morning to head North to Lanikai Beach for sunrise!
Ya… It was well worth the effort.
We were rewarded for our troubles with a stunning sunrise at Lanikai Beach, undisturbed by crowds or tourists and able to fully take in the beautiful experience.
And after playing with Isla in the sand for a bit, we decided to get some more portfolio and go for a bit more of a casual, playful tone to the images!
Then, before we felt the effects of our early morning wakeup, we enjoyed a nice swim with Isla in what was for me, the best swimming spot I’ve ever been to. Soft sand stretching far into the ocean, pockets of corral where fish were swimming by, and warm ocean waters that Isla really enjoyed! I would highly recommend Lanikai Beach as an awesome spot to spend your mornings. Just as long as you don’t go at a super busy time!
Exhausted, we drove back down South and stopped off at the Valley of the Temples. A stunning cemetery with a absolutely gorgeous Asian temple that hosts a huge number of tourists at all times.
I wouldn’t say it is a must-see in Honolulu, but if you are a fan of Asian temples, feeding wildlife, or just seeing some epic scenery, then this is a really nice spot to spend an afternoon.
And somehow we even managed to get some portfolio too! Being able to capitalize on breaks in the strong flow of tourists in the area to grab some shots with the gorgeous temple behind.
Truly epic views and with some Photoshop work, it even looks totally empty!
But by now we were really, really tired and need of some rest. We drove back to town, ate some dinner, and went for one last excursion before calling it a night.
You may have noticed that we haven’t done any night shoots yet! And I wasn’t taking any advantage of the 24mm GMaster that I brought all the way to Hawaii. So on the 2nd to last night in Honolulu we drove up to a high point in the city, setup our tripods, and started shooting some timelapses of the city as the sun was going down. Staying all the way until the stars peaked out above the city night lights below.
The last day was pretty much just a relaxing day spent as a family. Not portfolio shoots, no adventures, just a enjoyable day in the city. We ate at some great restaurants, shopped around for a new dress for Isla, and just kind of… chilled.
Something I left out of the story was that it was my 24th birthday on the second day in Maui! And Lex was feeling like we didn’t celebrate it enough. So on the last night of the trip she took me to a really cool ‘street food market’ inside of a mall in Honolulu. A fun experience where you can walk around to different shops, buy all sorts of different Asian foods, then sit in a food court area complete with live entertainment and even a beer garden! It was a great experience and something I would highly, highly recommend checking out.
And that definitely ended the whole trip on a real high note! We were exhausted of course, needing a vacation from our vacation, but so happy with how everything turned out and the experiences that we had! I think we had a very strong sense of how boring we find typical relaxing holidays, instead opting for adventure and relaxing in the comfort of your own home! Isla also had a big effect on our vacation mindset, as she doesn’t really sit still for more than 5 minutes at a time…
We managed to travel to 2 different Hawaii islands, get portfolio at 11 stunning locations, vlog the entire trip, and enjoy time together as a family, making memories for decades to come! Not bad for one week of travel.
And so we returned home a full terabyte of hard drive storage filled and got straight to work on the mega vlog featured at the top of the page.
Hopefully you enjoyed our big 2019 Hawaii adventure, we had a great time and hopefully we can return in the future for some paid work!
Check out the Full Gallery here:
And if you are at all curious as to what gear we use and where you can buy it, here are some links to the gear we own. Please feel free to use these if you are thinking of purchasing any gear as it really helps us out!
Sony A7Riii - http://geni.us/Gx3hC
Sony A7iii - http://geni.us/4I0ddDX
Tamron 28-75mm - https://geni.us/ooWZH8
Samyang 35mm - http://geni.us/wy4iun7
Rokinon 100mm - http://geni.us/poU2
Sony 16-35mm - http://geni.us/e9YfBkS
Sony 55mm - http://geni.us/NBfQGl7
Sony 85mm - http://geni.us/KL1PhC
Zeiss Batis 25mm - http://geni.us/ezVO
SD card - http://geni.us/H6Dw7AL
Batteries - http://geni.us/AQdvnf3
Sony A6400 - https://geni.us/gwRTd
Sony A5100 - http://geni.us/i70a1
Sony 18-105mm f4 - https://geni.us/Vc1Qtr
Sigma 56mm f1.4 - https://geni.us/hgHWxZ
Sony 16-50mm - http://geni.us/aml6wjF
Sony 10-18mm - http://geni.us/2b8l5
Sony 55-210mm - http://geni.us/Ldzd
Batteries - http://geni.us/EaQMaH8
SD card - http://geni.us/GAwy
Audio: Tascam DR-10 - https://geni.us/ghY8FH
Zoom H1 - http://geni.us/1snqd7
Rode VideoMicro - http://geni.us/CDnAmn
SD card - http://geni.us/F62RHF
DJI Mavic Pro - http://geni.us/u2vO2
Mavic ND Filters - http://geni.us/XU8vqnF
SD card - http://geni.us/F62RHF
Godox AD200 - http://geni.us/bDeh
Godox V860 ii - http://geni.us/NJoGcz
Magmod - http://geni.us/bP1TSh
Softbox - http://geni.us/jQz6Aj
Reflector - http://geni.us/AC4Tz2q
Came-TV Boltzen - http://geni.us/9iUqXQ
Boltzen Accessories - http://geni.us/8Bog
Aputure M9 - http://geni.us/Lh4Nxc7
Aputure F7 - https://geni.us/l5IquH
Ronin S - http://geni.us/dZZAjqy