oahu portrait photographer

L A N I K A I by Elsie Barnes

Before my husband and I packed up our belongings in preparation for our new duty station, we were frantically searching for our next home in Oahu. We searched the internet high and low, attempting to find a home that would satisfy our wishlist. A friend referred us to an awesome realtor who had built a Facebook page for military families moving to the island. This page was a lifesaver. The community that participated in this group were a wealth of knowledge, answering even the silliest of questions. Days before we had arrived on the island, Brandy Saulnier of Military Home Source had already a list of homes for us to view.

We arrived on a Friday, exhausted, sleep deprived, and hungry. By Sunday, Brandy was already at our hotel room and on a mission to find our new home. She picked us up, and immediately we were smitten by her. She treated us like family, and showed us the true meaning of Aloha. The car ride was filled with cultural education, myth busting, and so much laughter as we traveled the majority of the island. We truly enjoyed her company, and my daughter adored "Ms. Brandy." As the weeks progressed our friendship grew. I had become in charge of caring for her kiddos, and she had lent us her van so that my husband have transportation for work. Little did we know that Brandy was not only a realtor, and admin for the Facebook group, but also a host of a radio show, and participates in several events around the year helping our veterans and their families. Its a very impressive resume to say the least. To this very day, I am in awe of everything she is able to accomplish while raising a family. She is definitely the definition of #bossbabe. I look back at it now and I am grateful she was our very first friend, and we are truly indebted to her and her family for welcoming us into their hearts and home.

Fast foward a year later, and the dust has officially settled. From game night, to family dinners, and spending holidays together, we always find a way to hang out and spend quality time with her, but had yet to work with each other. You can imagine my surprise when she requested a family's portrait session. This was the perfect opportunity for me to repay her for all of the wonderful things she did for my family when we arrived. 

Lanikai, her favorite beach, would be the setting for her portrait session. Enveloped in cotton candy skies, teal water, and baby powder sand her family and I were ready to capture the dynamic that makes her home so special. The session was flawless, except for the occasional "Don't step on the jellyfish!", which I'll admit was fascinating to see unclose for the first time. We had such an amazing sunset, that it definitely didn't feel like work at all! 

There's a quote that says "Some people are put in your life for a reason or a season." I truly hope that she and her family stay in our lives for a lifetime. 


I N S P I R A T I O N by Elsie Barnes

Have you ever been in a state of cloudiness, so stale, mundane and stagnant that you don't see how you're going to make a way out of it? As an artist and a right-brainer, the constant search for inspiration is needed like that morning coffee, or salsa on tacos. There is just no way around it. You NEED it. So we search. We search for it in our surroundings, in other artists, and often times, in our everyday norms. I found myself wallowing in my cloudiness yet again, searching for something, anything to speak to me, to guide me, to inspire me. And like a 2x4 to the face, there she was, my neighbor.

Amanda, and her perfect 30 week belly just so happened to be outside playing with her kiddos while I was on the way to my mailbox. We chatted for a bit, but instantly there was a connection. She too was a photographer, on the island temporarily, while balancing being a mom of 2 kiddos just like me. Rapidly our friendship grew, and we have been pretty much inseparable since. #luckyme

Due to our need to feed the hungry creative beast, we set out to capture the amazing sunsets our  home has to offer. Within seconds, we were giggling little school girls sharing ideas and cameras. Our instant connection was the tip of the iceberg. I soon found out that Amanda was a perfect model, needing hardly any direction, and easily feeding my camera with still after still of remarkable images. 

With every click of the shutter, the light changed giving birth to new and exciting ideas. So instead of treating this fun impromptu session like one of my normal sessions, I decided to throw away cohesiveness between images, and edit them as they spoke to me. Every image has its own flavor, its own mood, is own way to draw you in. Artist should never be confined to a box, and I realized that the best way to break out of it, is to break all the rules.  

I am so very excited to see what new adventures Amanda and I indulge in! To keep up with Amanda, visit her here, and please let her know I sent you!


GINGER by Elsie Barnes

I met him at the Waianae Library Story time, held every Tuesday. He and his mommy sat next to my daughter and I. He had fiery red hair and little golden speckles that laid across his nose and cheeks. His hazel eyes caught me glancing, and he immediately covered his face in his mother's chest. 

Noticing him is an understatement. I stared. I stared HARD. He was breathtaking. He was beautiful. His name was Cael. My attempt to not make him uncomfortable was useless. He knew I was almost breaking my neck to just catch another glimpse of all of his cuteness. And before story time was over, I made sure to tell his mommy that I wasn't a stalker, but instead a photographer. In other words, a stalker with a camera. Her son had captured my heart and I needed to have him in front of my lens. 

Fast foward a few months, and his mommy and I are now good friends. He has spent afternoons at my house. And I am proud to say that my arms have cuddled him to sleep. My daughter is smitten by him, and considers herself his big sister. And although my dog isn't too fond of him, he is definitely part of our family.

Now, it doesn't rain often on the west side of Oahu, but when it does, the clouds turn amazing shades of golden cotton candy. This was the perfect setting for Cael and all of his gorgeousness. I was elated to be able to see the sun reflecting off of his curls, and boy it sure didn't disappoint. Although he was much more concerned about the rocks he found on the ground, and ensuring the high grass didn't caress his skin, he gave me better photographs than I could've imagined. 

Children have always had a soft spot in my heart. I truly enjoy capturing their personalities and telling their story. They will never be as young as they are today. Tomorrow they will learn a new word, be one day closer to their next birthday, and little by little grow more independent. So while your phone is full of the everyday funny things they do, make some time to contact a professional to capture memories of all of their little details. Their future prom dates will thank you!

Are you ready to get started? Click here! And let me know when we can get you scheduled!

Still undecided? Why don't you stop by and see other gorgeous faces I have photographed over here!

GLAM by Elsie Barnes

I have been stuck in a rut, both personally and professionally. Three months after giving birth to the happiest little boy on earth, I felt stagnant. This wasn't a baby blues, or a postpartum depression situation, but more of a "Stella lost her groove and its probably hidden somewhere in between the couch cushions", I just hadn't gotten up to check. If I had checked sooner, maybe I would've found the million dollars I hid there a few years back, but I was too sleep deprived to get up.

Then I saw it! A post by Noelle Herring of Sweet Rain Media proposing a Glamour Shoot out for photographers, which included professional Hair and Makeup by Whik'd Hair and Makeup Hawaii, and gorgeous floral crowns by Creative Concepts by Jeff . Noelle along with Lisa Lantz Photography and Chelsea Little Photography, organized an event specifically for us photographers. The premise was simple, instead of hiring models, we the women always stuck behind the camera would get dolled up and step in front of the camera. It was PERFECT, and just in time for Mother's Day. 

When the day finally came, I couldn't contain my excitement! A day away from being "Mommy", and a few hours to be S.T.I.L.L. Photography, and Sasha Fierce. (Yes, I know that Sasha is Beyonce's alter ego, but mine isn't that creative. If my alter ego had to choose a name, it would probably be something like "Londyn Rose" or "Maria Conchita" both of which sound like they should be a in a soap opera with very few lines and tacky outfits.) So Sasha it was and all of her fierceness.  

The green dress. Those that know me, know that I am NOT a fashionista. I wear shades not colors. The majority of my closet is filled with black, and not even cool, artsy trendy black, but more like a please-don't-notice-my-existence black. So when the other photographers suggested I wear an emerald green dress, with a cinched waist and had a very low cut, I just about had a full on anxiety attack. "THIS is not ME" I thought, and am certain I voiced it a few hundred times. But I realized I hadn't felt "me" in months. At the moment I was just wearing a very gelatinous body suit with dimples and tiger stripes, those that would disappear when I woke up from the newly mother of two dream.  But after much coaching, I finally convinced myself that I wouldn't turn into some green alien from outer space, go into anaphylaxis shock, or look like the green girl M&M for wearing the dress, so I wore it. The internal battle to just stick to my normal black was beaten by a chorus of Elsa's "Let it Go."

Then came the makeup. I am a foundation and eyeliner chick. Not because I think I am naturally beautiful, but more like I am seriously makeup impaired. No amount of YouTube tutorials could teach me hand-brush coordination. So, as I sat in the Makeup artist's chair, she casually asks me what color I was wearing, which I grudgedly replied "green" and what type of makeup I would like. Then Elsa began to sing that annoying song in my head once again, and I decided to not decide. "You have creative freedom" I said, praying and hoping I wouldn't regret this decision. I realized that those are the very words EVERY creative loves to hear. When we hear those words, it sounds like sweet nothings being whispered into our ears. More like "If you eat donuts and tacos all day for the next week, you will lose those stubborn 20lbs." Heavenly right!? I over analyzed every stroke of her brush, and imagined I would either look like a homeless drag queen who just broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years, or maybe Sasha Fierce herself, there was no in between. When she passed me the mirror to view myself I stared at s woman I had never met before. "Sasha? Londyn? Maria?" But none responded. "Elsie? Is that your girl? You clean up well!" Its was a pretty awesome confidence booster. The grocery bags under my eyes had disappeared, my worry wrinkles were diminished, and I had color on my cheeks like a freshly in love school girl. So I did what any girl would do, I took a selfie. Because I'm just a girl, standing in front of my phone, asking the camera to love me.

Then the real fun began. One by one, each photographer experienced their transformation. Some accepted it with open arms, and others such as myself, were still figuring out how to strut their stuff like a newborn calf. But it was beautiful. Each woman bloomed into an extension of who they are and my shutter finger began to itch for a shoot. I made my way slowly around the office building grabbing a model at a time. Posing, directing, assisting and shooting to my happy little heart's desire. I was no long that poor unfortunate soul waiting to be reminded of my passion. I was now in full photographer mode summoning my inner  Sue Bryce . I soon saw that everyone felt like me. This may or may not be "you" but as an artist, we see way more than the mirror reflects. 

On my way home from my supernatural high, I couldn't wait to share the day with my husband, and kept thinking of all of the images I would get to play with for the next few days. As I entered my home I was met by my honest 3 year old daughter who quickly said "Mommy, why do you have spiders on your eyes? You look weird." I chuckled. And thanks to her, I realized that messy bun, yoga pants, coffee breath Mommy is the person she loves. But I needed it, the day of pampering, the day to be Elsie and not just "Mommy." My job now was to embrace her, and not neglect her. In the meantime, I would sit and edit photographs I had taken so that these wonderful women I had met also didn't forget or lose themselves ever again either. 

So what's the moral of the story? Wear the green dress. Let someone make decisions for you. Try something new. But most of all, get your picture taken so that you can remember that "you" you found while not looking for her. If you need to find this girl sooner rather than later, shoot me an email at hello@stillphotographyeb.com and lets chat. Let me show you what I see! Together, we can make magic!

Want to see some of the photographs I was able to capture? Click here!

A huge thank you goes out to : Noelle Herring, Lisa Lantz, Chelsea Little, Rebecca Forgette, Sarah Obringer, Melinda London, Ketino Terekhov, Danielle Cain-Stone, and Jeff Castre.

Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful
— Sofia Loren