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Some of Oahu’s most pristine shorelines and vast mountain ranges exist on the west side of the island. In fact, the Waianae Mountains hosts Oahu’s highest peak at Mt. Kaala. But because of issues involving crime, drugs and homelessness, the Nanakuli, Waianae and Maili areas have developed a negative reputation that often discourages visitors and even some locals from venturing out to that side.Golden shores await. One of the many hidden beauties of the west side.
Haa Keaulana hopes to change that stigma. Born and raised on the west side, this 20-year-old can attest to the true beauty of this place and its people and hopes to share some of the unseen and untouched gems of the Leeward coast through her photography.
“I’m proud of where I’m from and try my best to show that to others,” said Haa, who will shoot anything and everything but especially enjoys shooting stuff that’s ocean related. Haa’s photography takes her around the island and in the sea.
After seeing her underwater shots, I instantly fell in love with them – turtles, dolphins and fish come to life in each and every frame. There’s just something about the clarity of the photos, purity of the colors and uniqueness of the moments she captures on camera that leaves you wanting to see more. Only a handful of local photographers can successfully encompass such beauty. Haa is definitely one of them; someone you should make sure to check out while in the islands. Haa captures some of the many living treasures under the sea on the west side.
Coming from a well-known family of Hawaiian surfers and a surfer herself, it’s no surprise that another chunk of her collections includes just that – surfing. She’s got shots of longboarders, shortboarders, bodyboarders and stand-up paddlers, mostly from her homebreak of Makaha.
Her timing, framing and intuition for lighting are those of an experienced photographer. When I asked her how long she’d been taking photos, I couldn’t believe her answer: a little less than three years. Could’ve fooled me!(Top) Haa catches the late Andy Irons doing what he did best. (Bottom) Fins out! A surfer gets air.
“With social networks, like Tumblr, I’m amazed at how many people are able to see and comment on my work. I get comments from all over the world,” remarked Haa. You can find her on Instagram and Tumblr (joyfuldancingsea).
A lot of visitors come to Hawaii looking for a photographer who can help them with engagement, maternity or wedding photos. Every time I’m in Waikiki, I’ll see a couple of newly-weds still dressed in their wedding attire – tux, tiara and all – having their photos taken with the beautiful ocean backdrop. Haa extends her professional photography services to such visitors, especially those who are looking for a gorgeous sunset…because, let me tell you, the west side (of any island in Hawaii) will always have the most vibrantly flaming sunsets, period.Like this one…a blazing sun about to meet its counterpart – the ocean.
While she hopes to one day travel the world for her photography, Haa will always be happiest with her initial inspiration, what started it all – her own backyard.
Photo Credit: Haa Keaulana
HAA KEAULANA PHOTOGRAPHY • Check out her work on Tumblr: joyfuldancingsea.tumblr.com