Back in January of this year, one of Capital Hill’s and Hawaii’s own shining star announced she was engaged and and getting married in the spring in Honolulu. US Rep Tulsi Gabbard, the newly elected maverick who regularly bucks her own party standing strong for what she believes in, was breaking hearts from the Ala Wai to the Potomac but her mystery man swept her off her surfboard and into his arms.
Some of you have read I’ve photographed Tulsi a few times for the news and once for a big New York magazine. Tulsi also saved my wife from a pack of zombies…no…uh…well… it wolves…I mean, mmmmmmm, well, I forget the original story as the narrative changes from time to time but she did stand between a potential danger and my wife as she walked home from work one day. Tulsi used to live in our downtown Honolulu condo and I would regularly accost her in the elevator getting a captive audience to complain about fire station sirens, homeless, and whatever took my fancy at the time but she never shied away and listened intently to my quagmire of complains and moans.
Years later after she became a member of Congress, Tulsi would go out of her way to say “Hi” to me at political or news events so it was nice to know I could count on her as a friend. She’s a genuine person but it was quite surprising to me when I got an email from her asking if I would shoot her wedding. Flattered as I was, I almost said no knowing this wasn’t my line of work but realized how important a wedding is to most people, I honorably took on the challenge and became her official photographer.
Knowing I could not do it alone, I needed to bring along a hired gun and I had several choices at hand but picked Hugh Gentry to be my second hand man. Hugh’s TV news and wire service background were just what I needed as the wedding would be quick and furious. As the wedding drew interest from around the globe, Tulsi needed us to get the images out to the media immediately after the wedding. I knew Hugh was up to the task.
Tulsi and her finance Abe were married in a beautiful Vedic wedding ceremony full of pageantry and color. The scene was a mix of Hawaii meets Hindu spiritualism with Tulsi dressed in an Indian style sari adorned with layers of tropical flower leis. The wedding was held in a secluded location on the east side of Oahu near an ancient Hawaiian fish pond. National, state, and local politicians were in attendance along with a few Hollywood and local big names. There was also a few international VIP in attendance. It was quite the crowd.
I documented the wedding from the beginning to the end with Hugh filling in the holes which i was not able to cover. I had full access to her and got to see her smiles, hear her laughter, and capture her tears. Her family was warm and embracing and tolerated my camera poking into every private moment.