It’s the journey, not the destination. I’ve said that before & it still holds true today. I genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason & it’s fair to say that I’m scared shitless & ecstatic all at the same time! Lol! Photography has been my escape, my creative outlet for the last 20 years & still is today. 

I’m constantly trying to reinvent myself with my photography. In the last four months, I’ve made three changes to my shooting style. The first thing was to ditch the flash & shoot my portraits with natural light. I gotta say that my #1 pet peeve was whenever I saw a picture with a blown-out sky, I’d cringe!!! I now have about a dozen natural light shoots tucked under my belt & feel more comfortable with that style of shooting, but to some extent, it still erks me when I have to blow out the sky! Lol! That’s definitely the seascape & flash photographer in me talking.

I’m learning to shoot in a way that just clips my highlights with the “blinkies” & pulling back with my exposure compensation. In-camera on the back of my LCD, my subject will be darker than I’d like them to be, but I know I have a lot of leeways to bump up the shadows at least three stops in post. It’s blowing out my highlights is my worst fear! The dynamic range in todays cameras is soooo good! Even with watching my clipping the highlights, I still need to compromise & have to settle with a blown-out sky, and it’s just unavoidable. It’s started to become a “normal.” & I do understand why it has to be done. The issue is not really a problem until I show my subjects the back of my camera & they’re underwhelmed! Happens all the time until they see the final edits. They don’t see what I see! LOL!!!  

Individule portrait shoot at sunrise.

Recently I’ve been shooting with a fixed lens and camera combo at 28mm. Traditionally 28mm is not a portrait lens. In fact, it’s a focal length that I’ve never considered carrying with me on any of my portrait shoots. With that said, A big Mahalo to Nicole for putting up with me to do this test photo shoot! I did this one successful portrait photo shoot with her & the 28mm & very surprisingly, it’s worked out! I did find that even with the “blinkies” just barely flashing, I still have blown-out spots inframe when looking at it on my big monitor back at the office, so I need to take this into consideration. I have two photoshoots scheduled for this coming weekend, both on the east side of Oahu, and I’m planning to pack only my newly acquired point & shoot camera rig. Going to try to incorporate an ND filter with my tiny camera rig & see how that turns out.

Individual beauty portrait photoshoot on the east side of Oahu.

Another thing that I’ve been trying to work on is lightening my overall camera gear load & bag. It’s all the little things that count. On my Sony A7IV, I’ve removed my L-Bracket, granted it weighs almost nothing & replaced it with a tiny Peakdesign anchor mount, but every once counts! A lot of people don’t realize this, but the weight of an empty camera bag needs to be taken into account for weight. A good ultralight rain waterproof jacket is perfect for those passing showers in the mornings while doing a couples or engagement photo shoot. With my point & shoot camera, I don’t have any options to bring any extra lenses, which is a good thing!

On paid shoots, yes, I’ll bring my Sony A7IV with at least two other lens options & my point & shoot that’ll cover the wider shots. With all that said, I have 1 EDC sling bag coming just for my everyday carrying stuff & a 7Liter Wontencraft Pilot sling over the shoulder bag. It’s basically the smaller version of the 10-liter bag that I already have & using for work. I know, I have a bag problem, it’s sad but true! LOL!

Sunrise photo shoot with model Nicole to update her portfolio.

So the images on this blog post were taken with my point & shoot with a fixed mount 28mm lens. I think it works. What do you think?

Creating memories from the heart ❤️…Aloha


To autofocus or manually focus, that is the question??? Being an old photographer but young at heart, I heavily depend on my cameras to autofocus & nail the focal point on the subject’s eye, better known in the industry as eye autofocus. I’m not sure if it is my old age or just being in this photography industry for so long, but I get bored very easily & love to take on new challenges. Last year I acquired a Voigtlander 50mm f/1 Nokton Leica M mount manual lens, which I’ve adapted to my Sony E-mount system & have completely fallen head over heels in love with this lens! 

When I’m on a sunrise photo shoot on the east side of Oahu, photographing one of my personal projects, or even just playing around with natural light photography with a friend, I’ll always pack the Voigtlander in my bag. Still, during the darker hours of the morning, it’s tough to focus manually, so I’ll start off with my autofocus lens & switch over to the manual focus lens when it’s brighter…in theory, but once I get into my flow state, I forget to swap lens, every single time! Lol!

Individual sunrise photoshoot Diamond Head.

Fast forward to my last shoot, collaborating with a friend on a natural light photoshoot…I finally remembered to use the lens! Haha! I did a series of poses using the Voigtlander & I learned a few things about that lens. Terrible chromatic aberration, but easily fixed in Lightroom, & I need a minimum shutter speed of 1/250, also to take multiple shots, then refocus again using the focus peaking. Also I need to work on this technique of rocking back & forth just a hair, especially when I’m at a wide open aperture od f1.4 to f/2. The bokeh was simply buttery & beautiful!!!

I also learned there’s a time & place for that lens & it shouldn’t be used 100% of the time. On a static pose, it’s perfect! When I have my subject moving or walking toward or away from me, there’s no replacement with a modern autofocus lens that has continuous focus with eye/face tracking! As someone who thrives on capturing moments & emotions through my lens, truthfully, I’d never be able to shoot an entire engagement or elopement photo session with only a manual focus lens! I would definitely miss a ton of shots due to the focus being soft & totally ruining capturing the moments! It’s not only “the moment,” but it’s the moments that happen before & more importantly, the reaction after it happens!

While I’m working on shooting a family portrait, engagement, or elopement, I’ll have two camera bodies with me at all times, my Sony A7IV with an 85mm f1.4 mounted & as of April 5th, I’ve made a small adjustment to my 2nd body, a fixed focal length of 28mm f/1.7 for all my wide shots. I’ll also have a Sony 135mm tucked away in my bag. What is that camera? Well, that’s for another blog.

Creating memories from the heart ❤️…Aloha


This was a learning process, I reached out to a few friends for lens recommendations for natural light environmental portraiture. They gave me all different combinations of lenses. I didn’t think any of them would have the exact same lens setup in their bag & I was right. I noticed that they all had a prime or zoom setup, a wide 16mm-35mm range for family portraits & a telephoto 70-200mm range for more intimate tight portraits. Some preferred zoom & others, like myself, had prime lenses. I’m a prime lens guy & have never been much of a zoom person.

For the 1st photo shoot at Sandy Beach, I brought my 24-70 f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4 & a 135mm f/1.8. I love the 135mm, it has a look I can’t get from any of my other lenses! The 85mm never came out of my bag. For this style of shooting, the 24-70mm just didn’t click with me, I used it just for a walking series of shots & threw it back into my bag & kept the 135mm on for 98% of the shoot.

Sony A1 | 135mm f/1.8 | Shot at f/2 | Shutter speed 1/320 | ISO 200


Sony A7IV | 35mm f/1.4 | Shot at f/2 | Shutter speed 1/200 | ISO 125

For the next couple’s photoshoot behind the Kahala Resort, I ditched the 24-70mm & 85mm, replaced both lenses with a 50mm & kept the 135mm. This combination worked out so well for me, my dynamic duo! I started out the photo session with the 50mm & kept it on for about half the shoot. It’s a very versatile lens to grab a wide if I have enough room to backup & I’m able to get in tighter for a close-up shot. I’ve always loved my primes, even with my high-production photo shoots. My only issue with the 135mm is that it’s HEAVY, a little over 2 lbs + 1.4 lbs for the camera body!!! I need to pack my leather cross-body Lucky Strap. I have a dual camera strap, but with all the crazies out there, I didn’t want too much gear visible, just a small safety precaution. I’d rather stay low-key than be seen as a potential target for thieves.

I think my bottom line for lens selections for an individual or couple photoshoot will be a 50mm & 135mm. If I’m photographing a family, I’ll throw in my 35mm in addition to my base kit of a 50 & 135.

Another thing I’m very diligent about is the safety of my client. I love the ocean, & I’m always working near the shoreline, I’m constantly thinking of where I’m placing them, where the waves are breaking & always, always, always scanning my surroundings for potential trouble, a homeless person & or suspicious-looking peeps. The Oahu photo shoot experience is just as or even more important than the images I create with the people I photograph.

Creating memories from the heart ❤️…Aloha


Couples early moring photo shoot on Oahu.

It was an amazing experience to capture Emily and Koa’s Kahala Beach sunrise photo shoot in Honolulu! The beautiful scenery of Oahu and the warm Hawaiian sun made for a perfect backdrop for the couples photo shoot on this special day. I could feel their love radiating from them as they embraced each other. Those goofy moments that happen in between each pose are, in my opinion, the best shots! I know at that point they’ve forgotten about me, the camera lens & their true self come out…I LOVE THOSE MOMENTS!!!


It was truly a blessed morning that I will never forget! Thank you so much, Emily & Koa, for shooting with me!

Creating memories from the heart ❤️…Aloha

Sony A7IV | Sony 135mm f/1.8 | Shot at f/1.8 | Shutter 1/250 | ISO 100…Early pre-sunrise shot with 1 flash & a MagMod Magsphere.

For 15 of the 19 years of my photographic career, I’ve ALWAYS been a flash person. I just never believed in using natural light with portraiture, especially the way I shoot, dark & moody. I use the flash to bring out only what needs to be seen. This whole natural light thing is sooooo new to me & as always, I’m overthinking it! Luckily I eased into the very 1st natural light photo shoot during sunrise at Sandy Beach, thankfully, it was an overcast morning & I didn’t have to deal with the harsh sun blowing out the sky & me freaking out because I couldn’t see any detail in the clouds! Lol! I’m such a drama queen!

The 2nd shoot was a couple & it was a beautiful sunrise! This was a learning experience for sure. I did have a basic understanding that I needed to expose for the couple & let the background sky blow out. Which I hate doing, that has to be my #1 pet peeve! The trick was to figure out how much detail in the shadows I could pull out on the couple in post. According to Sony, its sensors have about 15 stops of dynamic range, the keyword is “according” to these camera companies, they always overhype their camera capabilities! I know that I can pull up the exposure & shadows at the most 3.5 stops in Lightroom & with the noise reduction & sharpening technology in the software today, I feel a lot safer to push the RAW files a little bit more in camera.

Sony A7IV | Sony 135mm f/1.8 | Shot at f/2 | Shutter 1/2500 | ISO 100…Early pre-sunrise shot with 1 flash & a MagMod Magsphere.

In the images on this blog, a maternity shoot with the beautiful couple Jenn & Edric, I did bring 1 small flash, Flashpoint 100Pro, a Magmod Magsphere & Maggrid. I had an assistant, a friend of mine, Brandon, to hold & move the light. It was used more of a fill in these images since we were under the shade of the trees (1st image on this post). In the 2nd & 3rd images, it was used as a key light & I wanted to capture the colors of the blooming sunrise, but in my opinion, the 2nd picture had more impact as a black & white. I need to pack a 1/4 stop CTO to help simulate the colors of the sunrise. The Flashpoint 100Pro did fit into one of the slots in my Wotencraft bag & the small, lightweight carbon fiber light stand was easy to carry, fully collapsed at about 18” in length & weighs practically nothing.

Although weather conditions weren’t very hospitable, with the cold 20-30 mph winds & being blessed with some morning showers, Jenn & Edric was amazing! It’s not the 1st time I’ve shot with them, in fact, this is part 2 of a maternity series I had planned with them. In the 1st part, I created a small portable in-home studio at their home, but more on that in another blog. Here’s a link to a gallery on my other site dedicated to my flash photography,

Sony A7IV | Sony 50mm f/1.2 | Shot at f/1.2 | Shutter 1/320 | ISO 100

I feel more confident with 4 photo shoots in the bag & I can now give more of my attention to my clients on their posing & capturing moments they can cherish for a lifetime! With that said, I’m still learning how to get better with natural light shooting. Mahalo to ALL the people who have supported me on this new journey!!!

Creating memories from the heart ❤️…Aloha

I love the cold cool winter early morning air but the rain that comes with this time of the year totally sucks!!! I’ve had to reschedule 3 sunrise photo shoots in the last week. Fortunately, everyone was available to reschedule their Oahu photo shoot this week. The mainland has snow & in Hawaii we have ☔️ rain, I’d rather have rain! Lol!

Creating memories from the heart ❤️…Aloha

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