Greetings and Aloha

My Personal History

My Photo History

My Hawaiian History



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I was born in St. Joseph, Missouri and spent the first 8 years of my life there.

Like the pioneers who left St. Jo for a better life out west, my family did the same. We ended up in Las Vegas, Nevada where my dad got a job with an accounting firm that was contracted to the Nevada Test Site. So, it had nothing to do with Casinos or the Las Vegas Lifestyle. In fact, when I had to turn my library books back in to my school, the Librarian asked where I was moving. I told her Las Vegas. She said, "OH, well make sure to stay out of the casinos." I did not have a clue as to what she was talking about.

The rest of my elementary school, Junior High, and High School years were done in Las Vegas. By age 6, I had decided to become a school teacher so after graduating from Ed W. Clark High School (with honors) I attended UNLV where I majored in Elementary Education and minored in Physical Science. It was in my Astronomy classes that I began a love of photography. We had to learn how to take photos of the planets and develop them ourselves. I became the "official" Astronomy assistant during one of my years and was responsible for setting up telescopes for public viewings (Red Rock Canyon) and assisting the Astronomy professor. I soon found I preferred taking Portraits of people rather then photos of the stars.

I began teaching, after graduating from UNLV, at what was then known as a Sixth Grade Center. I also continued my education and received my Masters degree about two years later. I bought my first computer the second year of teaching (had to buy a car the first year). With that computer, an Atari 400, I taught myself how to program in basic and use various operating systems. During my 5th year at the Sixth Grade Center, I was asked to teach students about computers and technology which I then did for the next 10 years before transferring to a primary level school and worked with the little ones there with computers. After 5.5 more years, I became what is known as an Educational Computing Strategist (ECS) and transferred to my last assignment at two sister schools, Gene Ward (K-2) and Jack Dailey (3-5) Elementary Schools. I am now retired from the Clark County School District after 30 years of service. I now work on my photos, websites, and with Tevakanui Polynesian Dance Studio.

My personal life is not all that exciting outside of my world of Hawai'i and Photography. I am single and live alone in a small 1000 sq. ft. house where I work on my computer and once in a while transform the living room into a photo studio. My Dad, Sister, Brother, Sister-in-law, Brother-in-law, Niece, 3 Nephews, a great Niece, and 2 great Nephews all live here in Las Vegas. So family is not that far away. My Dear Mother passed away in 2003.

Teaching was my chosen profession, but my passion is and always has been photography. For 20 years I photographed and edited the year books at my schools. But it is the photography outside of work that is the most of interest to me. I served as the official photographer for two major Gymnastic Academy's here in Las Vegas for around 15 years. During that time I photographed (and video taped) hundreds of gymnasts both for technical aspects of their training and as photographic history of the events and competitions. A few of them have gone on to be world champions and Olympians. The coaches I worked for ranged from a World Champion Acro Gymnast to two coaches who were on the 1984 Chinese Olympic team where they both received silver medals. One of them, Jiani Wu has a bar move named after her called "the wu". I was privileged to be asked to accompany them along with our then current gymnasts on a trip to China where our gymnasts got to train with the Chinese Olympic Team at their facilities in Beijing. During that trip, I got to visit palaces and climb to the top of the Great Wall of China. During my time with the gymnastics, I developed most of my on film and printed photos in a darkroom. When I was searching for my house, one of the main concerns was to have a room with no window that could be made into a darkroom. It's what sold me on my house, a big walk through closet, no window, and a bathroom on one side (for the water and chemicals). Today my film developing supplies and equipment sit on shelves gathering dust, the darkroom is now a closet again and my photo work is now done on the computer.

When I do photoshoots, I use my Nikon D700 with Nikor lenses, professional lighting equipment, tons of props, and many styles of backgrounds. I sometimes shoot on location but prefer the control I have "in studio". My dream is to possibly one day build an addition to the house for a more permanent studio and to landscape my (now dead) back yard into a tropical photo location. Gee, all I need is money.

Since retiring, I do about 5 or 6 photoshoots per month. I do Polynesian, Maternity, Glamour, Boudoir, Senior Portrait, Headshots, Family, Couples, Fashion, and many more types of shoots. I also work with the Tevakanui Polynesian Dance Studio where I shoot photos and vido, manage their media, and webmaster their website.

My History With the Hawaiian and Polynesian People and their Culture

In 1995, my involvement with Gymnastics decreased and a new adventure in my life began. I discovered the vast Hawaiian Community who had now made Las Vegas their home.

In my senior year (23 years earlier) at Clark High School, I was a member of the band. We were asked to march in President Nixon's 2nd Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C. After doing quite a bit of fund raising, the State of Nevada decided to send the band from the High School that Pat Nixon had attended. Our Band director informed us one day in class, "The bad news is we are no longer going to Washington D.C. the Good news is the Pep Band (a sub-group of the band of which I was a member) was going along with the Basketball Team and Cheerleading squads to HAWAII! During my week on O'ahu (the week before Christmas) I found a great love of the place, the people, and the culture of Hawai'i. It turned out that the date of my first full day in Hawai'i would be the future birthday of a little girl who would steal my heart and help change my life.

From then on, I have always loved it when Polynesian groups would perform at my schools. In 1995, (23 years after my trip to Hawai'i), my school was having their annual Arts week. In the morning, along with several other artists from various cultures, were two people showing Hawaiian artistry. They were Aunty Diane and Uncle Ladd. Aunty Diane also brought along her young daughter Kanani. Also on that day in the afternoon, another group came to perform Hawaiian and Polynesian dances. They were Rozita Lee's Drums of the Islands. Rozita's Grand Daughter was one of the students at my school whom I had worked with all year (yes she is that special little girl mentioned above). That day literally changed my life. My interest with the Hawaiian culture was peeked and I soon was listening to a local Hawaiian Radio program. During the next summer, they talked often about an upcoming event called Ho'olaule'a which is a Hawaiian festival. I went on Saturday and soon ran out of film because I was taking so many photos of the groups performing there. I had to run and buy more and of course I came back the second day and took even more photos. One of the groups performing was a local Halau by the name of Halau ‘O Moanike‘ala. I noticed that the daughter of Aunty Diane, whom had been at my school, was in this group. I decided I wanted to do something special at my school and while researching on the Internet discovered that May 1st in Hawai'i was known as May Day is Lei Day in Hawai'i. So I planned to bring the Hawaiian culture once again to my school on May 1st of that year. I emailed the guys at Island Kine Radio and they suggested I contact the Kumu Hula of Halau 'O Moanike‘ala, Ipolani Silva. Even though I could not arrange anything with the Halau for my first Lei Day, I did start a relationship with them by sharing the photos I had taken and eventually became very involved with the Halau and its 'Ohana. I had also developed a relationship with Drums of the Islands 'Ohana over that time. I set up websites for both groups. Unfortunately, the Halau ceased operation in 2002 but I have kept in contact with many of its former member. I still happily keep up and maintain the website for Drums of the Islands.

After several years of non-affiliation with any one of the local groups (I took photos of all of them and put them on my website), I now work with a group called Tevakanui. It is run by Henry and Yvette George. The have a studio located in Las Vegas and perform at all of the local festivals. I met Yvette at one of my photoshoots that I was doing for Alysa, a former member of Halau ‘O Moanike‘ala. As with most people who meet her, I fell in love with her and her great spirit and love of God. She and Henry actually met while doing missionary work with Island Breeze. She is from the Big Island of Hawaii and Henry is from the Cook Islands. Tevakanui teaches all forms of polynesian dance and culture (Hawaiian, Tahitian, Cook Island, Figian, Tongan, Samoan, and many more.

I have a great respect for the people and the culture of Hawai'i and Polynesia in general. I truly believe in the Aloha Spirit and try very hard to share that spirit with others.

Young Aloha Photos

My passion for photography does not stop just at Hawaiian events; I also love to do private photoshoots and attempt to capture a person's beauty and spirit in portraits. Now that I'm retired from teaching, photography has remained a hobby and how I spend a great deal of my evenings and weekends. I love to also share my photographs so that the beauty of those I photograph can be seen by others. I therefore started what I call Young Aloha Photos. Today it is a major hobby, in the future perhaps more. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the Internet, I have had to put these photos behind a password which I share only with the family and friends of those I photograph and not to the general public.

Most of those I have been privileged to photograph have become long time friends and have become part of my 'Ohana. I have been very proud of several of my "little ones" as I photographed them over a period of years and got to watch them grow up and become wonderful people. Now even some of them are getting married and bringing new "little ones" into the world.

When you come to my "studio", the first thing you'll probably notice is the dead yard, but once inside I see eyes light up as they look at all the photos on my walls which I am proud to display. Hula girls and mermaids are all over my house along with water fountains and "hopefully" an air of aloha.

With each person I photograph in my studio, I try to get them to do at least one pose in hula attire so that I can maintain the theme of Young Aloha Photos and share with them the spirit of Aloha.


For more information about my photoshoots, see my Photo Session FAQ on this site.




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