As I reflect over the past 18 years in business it has truly been a privilege to capture the dynamics and emotions within hundreds of families in photographs. During my last 6 years as a photographer on Kauai, I’ve met families who have journeyed to this beautiful island to vacation and make memories together. For some it has been their first time and for others their last time. Thank you all for choosing me to be your photographer.
Kauai is such a wonderful place for families to come and celebrate a special event. Kal turned 80 ( he doesn’t look a day over 70) and his family came from all corners of the globe to celebrate and honor this man. Through the gusty wind and the threat of rain, sons, daughters, partners, and grand children were all there to make this such a happy occasion.
This session made me think a lot about family. My own family. I thought about how nice it would be for us all to be together, my mom and dad, my two sisters, my brother-in-law, and most of all my son. My dad just turned 80 too and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Time goes by so fast. I try to picture myself at 80 and my son at 50. Then I thought about what the word family means to me and realized I have made my island family here on Kauai for which I will be forever grateful. So enough about the future and certainly enough about the past because I’m walking right here in the present and cherishing every minute of it.
In my photo sessions I meet couples of all ages from all cities and backgrounds. Every couple has (and often does) have their own story to tell.
Some are in a new relationship. A newly married couple celebrating the beginning of their life together on their honeymoon. Other couples celebrate relationships that have stood the test of time, distance and challenge. While celebrating their accomplishments, their families, and their lives together I get the privilege to make a record of it.
In this particular photo shoot Valerie and Bruce are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. My favorite part of any session like this when I tell the couple that this is about them and their interaction with each other and not so much about them looking at me and my camera. I encourage them to face each other and savor the moment. Sometimes it all happens very naturally and I hate to even interrupt them for further direction. This is true in this session with this couple from Idaho. Thirty years and 5 kids and they still have that spark. They met at church. She saw him from across the room and knew he was the one. And the rest is history. Here are some memories from the south side.
I recently took time and scheduled several boudoir photography sessions. I held off on doing this for a while because I wanted to shoot something that was more tasteful than tacky. No 50 Shades stuff. Not a lot of props or lame poses. I was able to find a couple of near empty beaches, a hidden cave, and a bedroom with amazing light as context. These sessions were with women who ranged from feeling extremely comfortable in their bodies to ones being a little more reserved. These are a few images from these photo sessions done here on Kauai.
My goal is to have every woman I photograph feel comfortable, safe, and empowered during our session. I see this type of photography as a way to bring forth the true essence of every woman and show them the beauty in themselves they often do not see. EVERY woman has it despite age or size; they just don’t always believe it’s there.
In the coming months I plan to partner with a local salon and offer sessions inclusive of full hair and make-up. I want my clients to feel as they are spending the day at the spa. Watch me on Instagram @808cameragirl or Facebook @RhondaForsbergPhotography for the details. Please feel free to call me at 808.492.2991 for more info. You can view my website at www.rhondaforsberg.com for more examples of my work.
When I was young girl I had a series of Kodak Instamatics, a Kodak 110 and even a Polaroid SX-70. I was silly and I played (fun). Later while I was in high school I wrote for the newspaper and I was asked to take pictures for both the paper and the yearbook. The first time I held a ‘real’ camera in my hands I was given a quick overview on how to use it, loaded it with film and I was on my way. I taught myself how to read light and how to make a correct exposure. How adjustments of aperture and shutter speed related to film sensitivity and could either make or break an image. I began to experiment. Films. Processes. Taught myself how to develop and print in the darkroom. I made plenty of mistakes but it was such a wonderful way to learn. The more I photographed the more I saw things in my world change. I began to notice light, shadows, shapes, colors, textures, patterns, people, buildings, trees, and flowers. It didn’t take long for me to realize that photography changed the way I experienced everyday things.
Something I’ve always valued is the ability photography has to keep me present. I have to be aware of everything in order to capture it. I’m not thinking about what project I need to complete or what emails I need answer. It’s very freeing. Just the idea that I can capture a moment and have it forever can be quite exhilarating.
Learning to become a great photographer is a serious challenge. I always want to be learning something new and pushing myself to try new things. For this reason I never find photography boring. It’s a way I can tell a story with one image or a series of images and share my perspective with others. When I make a photograph I hope to can evoke an emotion in others. I know that I have experienced a range of emotions when I look at a powerful image. Some images have even changed the way I view the world. Strong stuff.
Photography allows me to connect with people in a unique way. When I photograph a person I try to capture their essence and sometimes it can be a huge challenge. But when I achieve it, I know it right away and it’s an incredible feeling. Even though it may take a series of photographs to capture the nuances of a person, photography has a way of showing subtleties that can be hard to describe with just words.
As I continue to shoot, I learn more about myself, what I value, and how I see the world just like I did in the beginning. I’ve watched trends come and go. Film come and (almost) go. Processes disappear. Wet darkrooms become dry darkrooms. Light tables become Lightroom. It’s been an adventure and one I hope keeps moving me forward the rest of my life.
Congratulations are in order if you’ve recently gotten engaged. Now comes the fun of announcing, planning, and preparing for the journey that will lead to your wedding day. The first step begins with your engagement as you choose a photographer to take your engagement photos. How do you know which direction to go? There are so many ideas out there. The amount of inspiration on Pinterest alone is staggering. Narrowing it down to a favorite or favorites can be an overwhelming task. With so many choices where should you start?
Try to avoid cliché ideas by personalizing your engagement photography. As the years go by you’ll want to look back at your photographs and be reminded of what it felt like starting out together as a young couple. Dont let your photos be distracted from that goal by overly posed expressions or props that are kitschy spelled with a capital K. Connect with things that have a lot of meaning to you.
Its best to collaborate with a professional photographer who has the ability to see moments and the skill set to capture them with creativity. I always spend some time getting to know my clients a little bit ahead of the shoot to discuss what their vision might be and how I can best help them. To go one step further I actually include a complimentary engagement session with all my weddings packages.
What to embrace in your engagement photography:
Embrace anything that shows both your personalities and your relationship. Hairstyles and fashions will change in 20 years your engagement photos will probably look dated so let them show what your relationship was like at that time. Think about what is special to you and your fiance right now.
Consider locations like your favorite coffee bar with your favorite drinks, an afternoon date reading cuddled up in a blanket, stealing a kiss outside your favorite café, or practicing your first dance on that private slip of a beach where he proposed. Think about what you like to do as a couple on a quiet Saturday afternoon then bring in the photographer whose talent is to capture the moments that really say who you are as a couple.
What to avoid in your engagement photography:
Balloons. Seriously unrealistic. When is the last time you walked down the sidewalk holding hands with a bunch of balloons? Never? These photos might sound or look cute but is this who you really are?
Scrabble tiles. Overused. Unless you are a huge fan of board game shenanigans skip them.
Signs that say “He Asked!” Or “She Said Yes!”. This cute engagement idea has been used and re-used. Think about it. If you plan on sending your engagement photo to your friends and family it’s probably a safe bet that they know you’ve already said yes. Do we need to reiterate?
Umbrellas (unless its raining). I’m always surprised when I see this. Why would you take a picture holding an umbrella when it’s not raining? If it is raining then this could be a fun idea.
Of course ultimately, its your choice as a couple what to include or exclude from their engagement photos. Just remember you that your relationship should be the focus because at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.
As the seasons shift from summer to winter on Kauai, I reflect on the portrait and wedding photography I’ve been doing this past year and the wonderful clients I’ve had the privilege of meeting. Here on the Garden Isle of Kauai we’re beyond blessed to be literally surrounded by many of the most unadulterated, pristine, stunning beaches in the world. Kauai is a natural choice for people to celebrate, whether they’re engaged, newlywed, or renewing vows after decades of life together. As a wedding photographer living in this island paradise, I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to capture these couples’ magic moments. I’m also fortunate to have the time and freedom to familiarize myself with many of the beaches and special hidden gems on Kauai so that I can personally recommend spots to my clients. The abundance of beautiful Kauai beaches can make it rather difficult to narrow down the options, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference, but I’ve listed some of my absolute favorite romantic beaches on Kauai for weddings, engagements, vow renewals, or just saucy picnic dates with a bottle of wine and your favorite person.
- Kalapaki Beach
When I’m working with a couple, I can’t just shoot the pictures. I become part of the intimate moments that I’m capturing. During shoots at Kalapaki Beach, I often end up getting chills at the love between the two beautiful people in front of me as the outrigger canoes and cruise ships come and go out of
Kalapaki Beach is in front of the Kauai Marriott Beach Resort near Nawiliwili Harbor, and is sheltered from the open ocean by a beach break wall, giving it a serene quality perfect for quiet magical moments.
During shoots here, the noise of the outside world fades away and I get to see the genuine selfless care the lovers in front of me have for each other. Sometimes it’s hard for me to keep a dry eye.
- Anini Beach
During a recent vow renewal photo shoot I did at Anini Beach (southeast of Princeville on Kauai’s North Shore), the vows were so raw and touching. I got the feeling that the couple was really there for one another and that they were genuinely so in love that they would make it through the trials and tribulations of a lifetime together. Anini Beach is an ideal spot for a romantic photo shoot because of its ample beauty and tranquil waters, protected by Hawaii’s largest coral reef. Even with the rough wintertime swells, Anini remains good for swimming and is peaceful. I love doing wedding and engagement photo shoots at Anini because it has some private spots which have beautiful light that illuminate the blues of the ocean, sky, and the golden sands that Kauai is known for.
- Shipwrecks Beach
I love doing photo shoots at Shipwrecks Beach on Kauai’s south side because even though it’s usually sunny and has picturesque sunsets, it’s typically less crowded than other Po’ipu beaches. It’s also adjacent to the start of the Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, which climbs over a jutting cliff formation that makes an amazing backdrop for photos, or for those couples who are really daring, a thrilling spot to cliff jump into the ocean during high tide, as Harrison Ford and Anne Heche did in 6 Days and 7 Nights. It’s hard to put a finger on, but the energy of Shipwrecks beach is just incredible. Some of my favorite wedding and engagement shoots are at Shipwrecks.
For me, part of the process of shooting the perfect wedding, engagement, honeymoon, or vow renewal pictures is becoming acquainted with the lovely couples I work with. Kauai has a wide variety of beaches and each has its own “personality” just as each pair of lovebirds do. After I get to know my clients I’ll often suggest locations based on an intuitive feeling based on years of experience doing photo shoots on Kauai. I guess that’s what some people call wisdom. When I match up the energy and personality of a Kauai beach with the couple I’m working with perfectly, I find that it’s just so easy to capture the natural joy that’s present. The beauty of Kauai and the beauty of the lovers’ connection blends seamlessly together and makes my work a true pleasure. If you live on or are coming to Kauai or any of the islands and are planning your wedding photography I would love to assist you. A special day calls for a special location and one of Kauai’s best wedding photographers. Fill out the form to your right and I will promptly connect with you.
I’ve been in the photography business for over a decade, and I’ve shot all kinds of photography: boudoir photography, newborn photography, maternity photography, wedding photography, and fashion photography. I’ve noticed a few common patterns among great portrait photographers that I’d like to share here for your benefit. Although there’s more than enough information about the craft to fill libraries, if you take these three essential portrait photography tips to heart, you’ll be well on your way to capturing something really special.
- Emotional Content is More Valuable than Technique, Setting, or even Subject
I like this quote by the great 20th century photographer, Ansel Adams:“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” I think what Adams is getting at here is that there’s this kind of sacred connection between you as the photographer and the people on the other side of your lens. The picture isn’t taken, it’s co-created, and the quality with which it turns out is a direct result of the quality of your relationship with your subjects. Of course there’s technical skill involved in making the photo turn out how you want it to, but I think it’s more important that you can “click with [the] people than to click the shutter,” as Alfred Stieglitz once said.
There’s a shoot I did at Shipwrecks beach in Po’ipu on Kauai’s south shore that I’ll never forget. I was working with three women who had been friends forever. They had been through a lot together and that came across in their photos. They each had matching tattoos, and they called themselves the Tres Amigas. Capturing the chemistry they had on camera was awesome, but what really made the pictures turn out so well was how quickly these lifelong friends opened up to me; by the end of the shoot I felt like I was Amiga Numero Quatro. These are the kinds of connections that make for excellent portrait photography. The camera just becomes an extension of yourself when it feels like you’re shooting friends you’ve known for ages.
- Catch Your Subjects in Their Moments of Deepest Authenticity
“[People] put on a face they think is the one they would like to show to the world… What lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe.” -Irving Penn
“All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” ― Susan Sontag
This tip follows from #1: the deeper the authentic connection I can build with my subjects, the more I know I can coax them out of posturing and expose their true beauty. A big challenge in my job is helping people feel comfortable in front of my camera. I have all kinds of tricks to get the best shots, but one of the most certain ways to take great portraits is to help your subject feel safe, comfortable, and at ease with you. How you achieve this can vary greatly. It might mean bringing a bottle of champagne to an engagement shoot or it might mean having a silly one-liner ready to tell the kids during a family portrait. I will do whatever I have to do as a photographer to help people let their guard down for the camera, and that is what helps me produce great portrait photography.
- Let There Be Light
“Much as the sculptor works with stone and the painter works with paint, the photographer works with light.” – Steve Barnes
These days I’m lucky to be honing my art on the beautiful island of Kauai, Hawaii, where the incredible natural beauty provides an ideal backdrop for my work as a photographer. Although not terribly large, Kauai has a huge range of climates that vary dramatically throughout the seasons. With these variations comes a vast array of natural light conditions. Light is probably the single most important element of any portrait I shoot.
Being aware of the intensity, color, and direction of the ambient light tells me how to position my camera, which settings to use, and where to place my subject for the best effect. In general, I try to shoot during those “golden hours” where the light isn’t too intense or too weak, but perfectly illuminates my subjects in the most flattering way. For example, I avoid overly intense, harsh light, because it creates a high-contrast effect which can accentuate shadowy eye sockets. I like overcast days because the clouds act as a “diffuser,” evenly spreading out the ambient light across my subjects. Real mastery of light can only come with lots and lots of experimentation and practice. The first step, though, is awareness of the importance of lighting.
I hope you enjoyed these portrait photography tips. Get out there and take some gorgeous pictures! Or, if you live on or are coming to Kauai or any of the islands and want to plan a shoot with me, I would love to hear from you. Fill out the form to your right and I will promptly connect with.
As the seasons shift from summer to autumn on Kauai, I can reflect on the portrait and wedding photography I’ve been doing and the wonderful clients I’ve had the privilege of meeting. One of my favorite beaches is Anini Beach on Kauai’s North Shore. It has some private or near private spots which have beautiful light that illuminate the blues of the ocean and sky and the golden sands Kauai is known for.
If you are coming to Kauai and are planning your wedding photography I would love to assist you. A special day calls for a special location and one of Kauai’s best wedding photographers. Fill out the form to your right or call me at 808.492.2991 and I will promptly connect with you.