Its been a great week for work this week as I’ve had two big travel stories on the Big Island and Maui run in the New York Times and the Associated Press released my writing and pictures on a trip to Kalaupapa on Molokai.
But if anyone takes likes as a measure of fulfillment, the shot of the surfer flying off his board at Jaws on Maui got over 16,000 likes on the @nytimestravel instagram page. Impressive!
But more impressive for myself is my new career of writing. In college I wanted to be a writer and took a few classes but didn’t take myself seriously to follow through with any of it. I doodled in diaries and mailed long love letters during my travels in Latin America and Asia. But its only been in the last few years that I’ve gotten acknowledged as a writer and published. Taking pictures has become second nature for me but writing is still the great frontier.
A few years back, USA Today sent me to Maui for the day for a portrait session with professional surfer Clay Marzo. Marzo, who was about 20-years-old at the time, was making headlines not just for his surfing and good looks, but for having Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild but highly functioning form of autism. He’s won numerous surfing accolades and recognition but has also been a role model to many with a similar diagnosis.
I met Marzo at his family’s home near Lahaina, and aside from Marzo being young and aloof, all went super well and the results turned out great. We shot a few pics in his garage then went to the beach where I did several scenarios of him in the water and on the sand. I’d hoped we could have shot later in the day as the shadows from the high Maui sun made for a contrasty session but luckily I was able to overpower the sun with my Profoto 7B. The newspaper loved the images and you can still read the story here.
Fast forward to this year and I get a surprise email from a photo editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt requesting outtakes from that photo shoot for a book project on Marzo. After a few weeks of back and forth emails, the editors choose the above images to illustrate Marzo’s and Robert Yehling‘s book Just Add Water, A Surfing Savant’s Journey with Asperger’s. The images and text are laid out very nicely and illustrate what the book cover needs to say. The image captures Marzo looking out towards the beach and ocean giving the reader a chance to connect with him.
I’m honored to be part of the project and thankful I was able to contribute to an important piece that will help others. The cover is great and it reaffirms the importance of outtakes in a photo shoot. Many times, the selects are not always the best in the line up.