OHANA MEANS FAMILY

WHO: THE HILMES OHANA | WHERE: MAUI, HAWAII | WHY: FOR FAMILY

If you’ve worked with me, you’ll know that I don’t show up to any of my sessions with a plan - especially family sessions! Ultimately, I let the kids run the sessions - seriously. Mom & Dad are key parts of the equation, as is some discipline (and bribery), but ultimately, I want your family to show me who they are and not hold hold back in the slightest. Why?

Because it’s what makes for great photos & memories.

I’m a lifestyle photographer - that means I capture things as they happen, in a moment, not posed, not planned, but maybe strategically placed & coerced if need be ;-) Posed & stiff photographs aren’t in my portfolio, and for good reason - they don’t show any feelings or joy (or craziness). Sure, I’ll grab a couple for the grandparents, but we’ll move away from those immediately, because even I, get uncomfortable when clients start to stand there and smile at the camera. My job is to take you out of your “comfort” zone of the types of photos you’ve grown to adhere to; and make you forget I’m there and just focus on each other. It’s my job and I’m darn good at it.

Do we get sandy? Yes. Wet? You bet. Messy? I hope so. Can hair and clothing sometimes get messy? Isn’t that what childhood is about??? We’ll obviously do our best to keep it to a minimum, but in the end, when you let it (and them) be…you’ll get THIS:

And that is precisely, why I’m here ;-)

MOTHERHOOD IN MAUI

WHO: GABBY + JERRY | WHY: BABY MOON @ 8 MONTHS PREGNANT | WHERE: MAKENA, HAWAII

Maternity sessions are my most popular sessions…and for good reason. I LOVE watching women blossom into motherhood! There’s a quiet beauty & strength surrounding every mother-to-be; and witnessing it as they make their way along Hawaii’s shorelines is seriously beauty at it’s finest to me. They don’t have to try…they just are.

Case in point - Gabriella (and Jerry of course).

A calm, quiet beauty who’s never had professional photos taken before and without effort, performed gracefully in front of the camera. Jerry was as understanding and patient as they come, so he helped her along the lava rocks and guided her to safety and stability when needed (but really, I think she may have guided him along more than her lol). The power & strength of a woman in general is what I live for - and my time with Gabby was no exception.

See for your self below…

WHEN TO SCHEDULE A MATERNITY SESSION IN HAWAII

The timing of your maternity photo shoot (on land or in the water) is critical - especially during your baby moon in Hawaii…

Schedule it too early, your baby bump will not be as visible and won’t take as prominent of a role in the photos. Alternatively, if you schedule your maternity shoot after the 34 week mark, you might be dealing with swelling, aches and pains, and generally feel like a photo shoot is too much work!

<<>>

Every woman is different…so listen to your body, see how it’s changing, and make the best decision for YOU.

Some women are showing earlier in their pregnancy, so booking a shoot near the 6 month mark may work great! Plus you’ll be more mobile, adventurous, show less fatigue, and generally, happier and more comfortable. And trust me, you’ll want to be mobile during your time here in the islands ;-)

In general though, the best time to schedule a maternity session during your baby moon is typically anywhere between 26-34 weeks, or at the 7 to almost 8 month mark, when your bump is big enough to be seen, and you’re still in your comfortable zone.

At this point in your pregnancy, your baby will not have started to move downward - that means you’ll have a higher tummy that looks much better in a portrait than after the baby has started to move its way lower in your body. In the third trimester, your belly will be just the right size - big and beautiful, but not so big that it’s difficult for you to move around, change positions, swim, and pose for the camera.

Dreaming of an underwater maternity session in Hawaii?

The earlier in your pregnancy, the better!

Think about it - you, the ocean, a dress/bikini, your growing bump, and Mother Nature - it’s a lot to manage! What we really want to avoid is you performing a water birth during our session (I’m SO serious) - so be sure to time our session when you’re not too far along and your tummy is still in it’s “floatation device” stage (usually no more than 7.5 months max).

READ MY OCEAN FAQ HERE

If your tummy is too heavy, it’ll feel like a weight in the water, and that’s no fun for anyone ;-) I’ll be with you every step of the way, so rest assure that I’ll do the managing - you just show up feeling & looking your best (and lightest!) .

Salt water is super buoyant, but there are currents, sometimes waves, and you may need to tread water if you really want some of the deep, underwater shots (like the ones above + below). Fabrics like chiffon and tulle do really well in the water and look amazing when you can get them to float just right - so plan accordingly to make your time in the water, as effortless as possible.

See some wardrobe tips from my blog on “Planning your Wardrobe for Your Maternity Session”.

My biggest advice? Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your photo shoot! Plan ahead with your photographer and get on their calendar well in advance - especially if you’re in the process of planning your Hawaiian Baby Moon. Trust me…it’s worth it!

BABY MOON IN MAUI

WHO: MADELEINE + AUSTIN | WHY: BABY MOON | WHERE: MAUI, HAWAII

It’s funny…I feel like many of my blogs have begun with “weather issues” here in Maui - but honestly, and I PROMISE when I say - weather in Maui is 9/10 days PERFECT. Seriously! It’s only occasionally that we get weird rain, storms, etc. I just mention it because a bunch of my clients worry when they look at the weather forecast for the islands and they start thinking about rescheduling, new locations, etc.

I’ve said it a few times and I’ll say it again - weather here moves quick! I swear, those weather folks at The Weather Channel just look out the window and give a forecast - don’t listen - they’re typically wrong. Just wait and if there’s ever anything to worry about, I’ll be in touch couple hours prior to your session ;-) I promise, you’ll never be left wondering what’s next with our session!

With that said, Madeleine & Austin’s first trip to Hawaii hadn’t been going very well - it rained the whole time they were here and they didn’t get to explore how they wished they could have. With our luck, the heavens cleared and the sun brought out it’s “A” game - but not without a few clouds in sight and a small sprinkle prior to our session.

We went ALL out - three outfit changes, land + ocean photos, rocks & beach, as a couple + solo - this gal and her 34 week (super adorable) bump toughed it out and all I have to say is….wow. Mahalo to the both of you for being so beautiful, so in love, and so adventurous!

<3

OCEAN MATERNITY ADVENTURES - OAHU STYLE

Weather reports across the Hawaiian Islands were going bonkers. Tropical Storms or Hurricanes? How many are to the North and South? Will they miss us? Luckily they both did, and simultaneously (phew)! But not without gifting us with some turbulent, milky waters, and lots of cloudy skies and rain showers.

Insert Vivian & Louis. 30 weeks pregnant and as adorable as ever…currently vacationing on Oahu. They found my underwater maternity photos so breathtaking, that they just had to fly me over to Oahu to capture these once-in-a-lifetime photos…so off I went!

I swear, my full-time job isn’t being a Photographer - it’s being a Weathergal! The amount of time I spend checking the weather, analyzing ocean conditions, wind & sun direction, is just bananas! It’s part of my job, and my life as a surfer…but when it comes to working around Mother Nature for scheduled photo sessions? I should seriously start my own reporting station! (Past clients…you know this and thank you all for sticking through the “storms” that may or may not have happened. You all rock!).

Shoot time: Sunrise.

Forecast: Ocean conditions: murky all over the island, NSEW. Currents: Even more bananas. Swell: 5-7 ft faces. Weather: 60% chance of rain.

Actual Session Conditions: Ocean: Turkey & 2-5 ft. Currents: Still bananas. Weather: 0% chance of rain.

So what did we do? Shot at my favorite North Shore Oahu location for the land portion, then travelled 10 minutes SE to another location for calmer waters & stunning backdrops. Result?

This.

Mahalo Vivian & Louis - you two were beyond “great” xo

A FAMILY'S GOLDEN HOUR ON MAUI

When a fellow photographer asks you to capture their family during their Maui vacation - I’ll be honest…it’s such an amazing feeling! Us photographers are all pretty critical of our own work (and I’m sure other’s as well!), so it’s a HUGE compliment when someone searches high and low and chooses you! Seriously, it is.

Traci of Traci Merrit Photography based in Granite Bay, CA, is nothing short of sweet. And I don’t use the word short out of context…because her and her husband Josh are both on the taller side, super athletic and are the most adventurous parents ever. Just ask their two little ones, Kylie & Zoe. To say I had a blast during this session is an understatement - and I’d do it alllll over again if they come back! Or perhaps next time I’m in Cali? ;-)

From my time with Traci & her beautiful family, a collection of natural light photos at sunset, in a dreamy placed called Maui, Hawaii xo

FOR LOVE - A MAUI ELOPEMENT

WHO: MEGAN & CHRIS | WHERE: KAPALUA, HAWAII | WHY: FOR LOVE

For starters, I don’t specialize in photographing weddings. I prefer to keep things small, intimate, personable, and on the less serious side. Besides, there are TONS of super talented photographers on Maui who can capture your day perfectly - I promise - so I encourage you to reach out to them…

But when one of my closest friends told me her long-time partner just proposed to her, I jumped at the occasion to photograph their wedding…AS A GIFT to them. She naturally couldn’t turn that down ;-)

Fast forward about 7 months later, a guest list of 10, and a bride & groom that couldn’t have had their “day of” go any smoother, here we are. Chris + Megan. Two of the most grounded, honest, loving, and giving people you could ever want as a part of your life. And they’re all mine for this day (forever as well, I’d like to hope…).

Perfect weather, two loving families who flew out from the mainland to witness their perfection, the perfect Maui location…and naturally, the perfect photographer. JUST KIDDING. What I meant to say was, the perfect love. Because it’s honestly, SO perfect.

My afternoon with Chris + Megan. Cheers to the rest of your lives (and mine - because I’m so lucky to call you two friends) <3

Officiant: Ernest Pua’a @ernestpuaa

Flowers: Sunya's Flowers @sunyasflowers

Hair & makeup - MeiLi Autum Beauty (MAB) @meiliautumnbeauty

Lash extensions - Alohi Lash @alohi.aesthetics

Dress - Katie May (from Nordstrom) @katiemaycollection

Suit: Topman (from Nordstrom) @topman

Shoes: Vans

How To Style Your (Gorgeous!) Postpartum Body For Your Maui Photoshoot

Congratulations! You’ve just given birth and your whole world has changed … including your body. This beautiful body of yours just birthed your little one (s), and while things don’t look or feel the same as they once did, now is the time to celebrate and adjust into your new role as a parent.

How else to celebrate this new addition to the world than wish a photography session?! You may have scheduled a newborn session, or scheduled a session for your 3, 6 or 1 year old…because let’s face it, time flies and they grew MUCH faster than you anticipated! During this time, you’ve been working your way back to your pre-baby silhouette and dressing your postpartum curves has been the absolute last thing on your mind! Don’t worry…I’m wearing pajamas even while writing this - because what we wear is typically always the last thing on our minds!

To help assist in your upcoming photography session, or for those occasional work days, trips to the park or out on a hot date with your partner, here are a few techniques to help you dress your postpartum body in style & confidence…because believe me sisters, we ALL need some guidance!


Wear Dark Colors. Dark colors absorb light and minimize shadows, which help conceal curves that you’d prefer, stay incognito! Lumps and bumps are disguised by dark fabric, and your body seems longer if you choose an outfit that’s darker from head to toe. Too simple? Add some lively accessories like a statement necklace, a cute hat or some stylish bangles! If black isn’t your thang, try dark brown, charcoal grey, or navy. Check out styles like this dress from Lulu’s.

Wear Print (but not too much!). Prints are also another helpful trick to concealing details of your midsection or curves. How? They create a distraction and help highlight your overall (gorgeous) shape! I suggest wrap dresses that help compliment your shape, accentuating your upper waistline while embracing the long, flowy fabric below. This style is one of my favorites and helps compliment ALL body types to be honest! Like this one at Lulu's.

Keep things Loose & Flowy! During pregnancy, you most likely embraced this time with your bump and highlighted it whenever possible with tighter clothing & silhouettes. Now that bump is no more, but you’ve still got a little left over that you’d prefer to camouflage (clingy clothing? Stay FAR away!)…so try some stylish options like this from Lulu’s. Too billowy? Cinch it in a bit at your upper waist with a cute belt or fabric wrap!

Fabrics that forgive. Garmets made of soft, flowing materials naturally melt more smoothly over your body than once that are tightly woven or even bulky. Think cotton blends, jersey knits...

Be a minimalist. Choose shirts & dresses without many ruffles or pleats, or ones with a simple silhouette. Clean works best if you’d rather not emphasize your shape…

Fake it till you make it. Take advantage of “shape wear” - slimming tanks, cami’s that have a little more compression around the areas you need it the most. They make panties that hold in your tush, thighs, waist and tummy, helping you feel your most confident (and smooth) no matter the outfit. Nordstrom Rack has some affordable options - look around!

Stick out your neck. Embrace v-necks, scoop necks, boat necks, and off-the-shoulder necklines. Honestly, you should be doing this regardless of your figure, because I have yet to see a neckline and shoulders that don’t look sexy with these cuts! See that collarbone that’s just sitting there, creating the most sexy shadows ever? Say hello and make it your best friend. You two are going out ALL the time!

Be a jean queen. This is important: purchase jeans that fit your body how it is shaped right now - not how it was or how you want it to be. The proper fit is crucial! Too low? Hello muffin top & weirdly squeezed thighs. Too loose? What’s up with that saggy butt you now have? Keep it high-waisted where the waistband naturally hits at your natural waist - and keep them a bit stretchy for shape and a little extra support. BONUS: the higher waist tricks theey into thinking your legs are longer than they are! So pair them with a cute shirt slightly tucked in the front to accentuate those “long” legs.

Add an inch (or two). Sneakers are comfortable, and sometimes super cute! But if you’re going out on the town, or if you just want to look cute when dropping back into work to show off your latest addition, add some length to your frame with some block heels or wedges. Stability is SUPER important when toting around your little one, so go for safety of course, but keep it somewhat stylish.

And most importantly…be patient. Your body just brought another life into this world. If that’s not the single most beautiful things EVER, I don’t know what is! BE PROUD. BE CONFIDENT. It will come through in your photos and isn’t that exactly what you want??? What’s most attractive, is your love, nurturing ways, and your ability to persevere through anything that gets in your way…even if it’s you ;-)

To Sum it Up:

  1. Wear Dark Colors

  2. Print can be your best friend too

  3. Keep things loose & flowy

  4. Be a minimalist

  5. Fake it till you make it

  6. Stick out your neck

  7. Fabrics that forgive

  8. Be a jean queen

  9. Add an inch (or two)

  10. Be patient

Childhood Magic - Maui Style

When a fellow (and amazingly talented) photographer reaches out to you to capture her & her family on their first trip to Maui, you jump up; raise your hand; and say YES!

Immediately upon meeting Claire & her family (did I mention they’re all gorgeous?), I knew this sunset session was going to be SO much fun! With open hearts, beautiful flower crowns, flowing dresses and the perfect sunset & backdrop, we jumped right in and made the most of the high tide & lava rock surroundings…

Not only were their outfits coordinated to perfection; the fabric was comfortable with plenty of beautiful textures, and their small accents like leis and crowns were just magic!!!!!

Need help coordinating your wardrobe for your upcoming family session? Be sure to check out my recent “Planning Your Wardrobe: Hawaii Family Photography Session” Blog!

As for Claire, if you’re in the area of Phoenix, Arizona and looking for an amazing newborn photographer, be sure to visit her website HERE <3

Much love to you & your family Claire…and of course, thank you for choosing me x

Underwater Hawaiian Maternity Dreams

WHERE: MAUI, HAWAII | WHO: SOON & NICK | WHY: BABYMOON

It’s Soon’s first pregnancy and she’s known from the beginning that she wanted to do an underwater maternity shoot with gorgeous crystal clear water…and where else than in Hawaii!

Now, let’s be clear (no pun intended), finding clear waters on Maui for an underwater photography session isn’t always guaranteed, but at Sunrise & at some of my personal favorite locations, our chances can be higher than usual, giving us those breathtaking & dream shots!

Luckily on the morning of our session, the water Gods were watching over us, as were the weather Gods! But really, clouds don’t scare me…they offer more dramatic skies and that’s kiiinda my thang ;-)

Did I mention these two lovebirds were just as beautiful as the Sunrise & Ocean itself? Soon & Nick, you two were made for each other…and your little one? Easily the luckiest!

A big mahalo to these to magic makers <3

Her First Maui Year

WHERE: WAILEA, HAWAII | WHO: ERIN, JEFF + BABY ELLA | WHY: ELLAS 1ST BIRTHDAY

Just a year prior, I had the joy of capturing Erin & Jeff as they were pregnant with baby Ella & enjoying their Maui vacation and baby moon. So when they contacted me just days before arriving for a last minute Maui vacation trip (and Ella’s first!), I was so excited to meet Ella, so I made the time to sneak them into my schedule.

And I’m so glad I did! Talk about a cutie patootie! Erin decided to wear the same outfit she wore while pregnant with Ella so we could coordinate some before/after shots with baby Ella! And you know what Erin also did? She coordinated Ella’s outfit to match hers…and to this day, it’s hand’s down my favorite outfit EVER on a little one!

Side note: If anyone can find this skirt in an adult size, please please PLEASE let me know! I’m obsessed ;-)

After much love, coordination, pom poms, and smiles, baby Ellas first photoshoot (technically 2nd) was a success! See for your self (and seriously…that skirt…) <3

A Maui Maternity Engagement

WHERE: MAKENA, HAWAII | WHO: VANESSA + TOM | WHY: MATERNITY & SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT!

From the very first moment Vanessa contacted me about a maternity session during their trip to Maui, I was already beaming at the visions we had discussed to make her session as perfect as possible. But then…Tom contacted me separately…

During their session, he wanted to propose to the love of his life that has made him that happiest man alive for the past 6 years+! I squealed a bit when he contacted me because I had just the place, and at sunset, it was the perfect time!

So we set the cues, confirmed a few times prior, and before you knew it, the session day had arrived!

Now Vanessa? She had NO idea! So while Tom and I were dropping little hints to each other about when & where behind her back at our session, Vanessa was too busy taking in all the gorgeous scenery around her. And honestly, you can’t blame her ;-)

I set them up, mentioned our cue, gave Tom a swift & reassuring pat on the back, and he nailed it! After an obvious yes, some tears, iPhone photos & outfit changes, we jumped in the water and celebrated with the most adventurous sunset water session! And these two? Yea…they walked off into the sunset & the rest of their lives.

And as for me? I followed them like the creeper w/ a camera that I am, snapping away! Sorry folks, that’s just how I work!

And now, some of the best YES moments from my time w/ Vanessa & Tom <3

Mini Maui Mornings

WHERE: MAKENA, HAWAII | WHO: MINI & HER ADORABLE FAMILY | WHY: FAMILY & MATERNITY SESSION

I always recommend Sunrise sessions for families with little ones for so many reasons…and it’s primarily due to the time difference my clients (and all tourists) experience when they arrive on Maui for their vacation. For 99% of my clients, they’re already up briiiight and early, well before our scheduled session - so by the time we meet, they’re already wide awake! Well…maybe not Mom & Dad ;-)

Mini contacted me with visions of pastels, neutrals, some greenery, lots of lava rock, and some bright sunshine to capture her growing tummy, her husband, and their adorable son. Luckily, this location at Sunrise is perfect for all of the above!

I always arrive slightly early to my sessions in hopes I can be there before my clients so they have a reference point…but in this case, Mini and her Ohana had already arrived! And apparently, they’d been there for over 30 minutes just taking in all the beauty! I mean…can you blame them?

Some of my favorite moments from my Sunrise Session with this adorable family at one of Maui’s most gorgeous beaches <3

NYC Power Couple Does Maui

Where: Maui, Hawaii | Who: Annie & Jeremiah | Why: Maternity Land & Ocean Session

What do you do when two stylish & super sweet Brooklynites contact you for a Land & Ocean Maternity session on Maui? You make the time…and you make it count ;-)

I’m not gonna lie, I love it when fellow New Yorker’s come to Maui and choose me - it brings a little piece of the Big Apple to my eye and helps me remember my 12 years there!

Sorry Hawaii…if you must know, I’ll always be a New Yorker ;-)

When Annie initially contacted me, we had originally scheduled one of my Land sessions, but last minute, she upgraded to my MAKAI Land & Ocean session and I couldn’t have been more excited!

With a gorgeous location set and my water-housing ready, we set out on an adventure to say the least! The Maui Sunset? Perfect! The ocean? NOT so perfect!

By chance, I was available the next morning following a separate Sunrise session, and contacted Annie & Jer to see if they wanted to jump in the ocean because I spotted some clear water near their hotel. Without hesitation, these two showed up within 15 minutes looking as dapper as the evening before and WE. TOTALLY. KILLED. IT! The Ocean? PERFECT. Annie & Jer? EVEN MORE PERFECT.

Annie & Jer - you know I can’t get enough of you two! Thank you for your positivity, sense of adventure, deep breaths and long walks on the beach. You two were worth it all and then some. <3

Planning Your Wardrobe: Maui Maternity Photography Session

Figuring out what to wear for any photography session is difficult...that's why I'm here to help you slim down your options, OR create some more fabulous ones! 

The most important rule is to BE COMFORTABLE! But more importantly, be you! I am going to create art that will hang on your walls for years and I want you & your loved ones to look like themselves.

Keep it fun! If you want to bring two outfits, bring two. But no matter what you wear, be confident that I’ll make you look fantastic…It’s my job.


BASIC TIPS

  • I love color and accessories, just keep the patterns to a minimum ;-) Solid colors always photograph well. There's no risk of distracting from faces, interactions or the environment around you.

  • Ladies - long maxi dresses are your best bet for EVERYTHING. They’re literally flattering on everyone! Plus they move so beautifully!

  • Flower Crowns, however, are always encouraged! I just can't get enough of them!

  • Don’t forget to bring a change of clothes or backup shirt/bottoms - sand, dirt & shoreline fun are inevitable!

  • In general, shoes aren't necessary for any of my sessions. You can bring standard rubber sandals for walking to/from our location or for walking on any rocks/stones.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

  • Photograph the outfits in advance. Lay out the clothing choices you have in mind and take a quick snapshot with your phone. If you like what you see, this photo can be super helpful when shopping!

  • Makeup: Less is more - especially during outdoor portraiture. Weather here in Hawaii his HOT & HUMID, so avoid wearing any makeup that is shiny or has metallic minerals because it will catch in the sunlight. And I stress...WATERPROOF MASCARA.

  • Hair: My best advice? Wear your hair the way you want it to look in the wind (just in case it’s windy). I’m obsessed with movement & hair blowing in the wind, but it can be unflattering when it flies across your face and it begins to frustrate you. Hairspray helps, but I highly recommend bobby pins, clips & hair ties!

  • Bra: Support is key! If you're wearing a strapless dress, I encourage either no bra (don't worry, I'll edit the obvious...) or a supportive strapless bra that won't show. I want the focus to remain on your new curves, not wrinkles or bumps because of tucked or exposed straps!

Still need some more inspiration for your wardrobe?

Visit my ‘What to Wear’ Pinterest Board!


Where to Shop:

For Her: PinkBlush, Sexy Mama Maternity, Amazon, Sew Trendy, Asos,

Lulu's, Target

For Him: Old Navy, Zara, Gap, Target, J.Crew


COLOR PALETTE SAMPLES


PASTEL COMBOS & INSPIRATION


LOVE NEUTRALS?


THE BOLD + THE BEAUTIFUL