It’s Not Science, it’s Art

It was never planned to be a film vs digital comparison, but, seeing as how the setup was close to identical, there is something to be learned from this.

Panasonic  Bronica







Moriah came to the studio, with her mother in tow… on separate mopeds! How cute is that? I had seen her picture and knew that I could deliver a unique, classic look, but that I needed to be careful with light. I made an assessment of her facial features, and set the single light and reflectors to best portray her without creating unflattering shadows. We would shoot on 6×6 film and digital. The digital was shot with my Panasonic GH3 and the Leica Nocticron, at 42.5mm and f1.2 (YES!) it is, no doubt, the best lens in the M4/3 format. I’m now shooting almost all of my video interviews with the Nocticron. The Kodak Portra 400 negative was exposed in my Bronica SQ-A with the Zenzanon 150mm f3.5 portrait lens. Unfortunately, the scan is the cheapest scan that The FINDLab offers. My main interest there is inexpensive processing, and they are good. The negs are in the mail, and my Epson scanner is waiting…

And, yes, both photos are edited, with an almost identical technique. I did not affect color balance on either image.

So… which is digital, and which is film?

Posted in Fashion, Headshot, Portrait Tagged , , , , |

Bring your Seatback to its Upright Position: Hana Hou! Magazine

HANAHOU 600x600

Yes, there really is a grove of 80-year old Douglas fir trees in Hawaii.It’s shrunk from 200 seedlings to not more than a dozen mature trees, but the effect is still magnificent!

For my first publication in Hana Hou! magazine, I’m lucky to be able to offer a story that not many people know about. I’ve been following the David Douglas story for some time, and in 2009 I was the locations guy for a group of filmmakers from Oregon. Their film, “Finding David Douglas,” tells the story of the Scottish botanist/explorer, who died under mysterious circumstances on the slopes of Mauna Kea. When they told me they were coming back to put up a new plaque at Kaluakauka, the Doctor’s Pit, the place where he died, I had to go there and photograph their work. I’m glad that the folks at Hana Hou! Magazine thought the story worthy of publication. Photographically, my contribution is unique in that 1/3rd of their selections were shot on 6×6 film with a Pentacon Six, an ancient East German camera. Matt, thanks for not having a heart attack when I said I was going to shoot film… or WAS that a heart attack?

Posted in Uncategorized

Kalai Kiʻi: Kanani Kaʻulukukui

Kalai Ki'i

Sometimes projects take a while to come together. Iʻve been following this story since I first stumbled into it in 2012. Now, Iʻm presenting a new gallery, a series of my photographs from last summer with Kanani Kaʻulukukui.  I first met Kanani during a shoot for a multi-screen (10!) video art installation at the Kepo’okalani Interpretive Center in Kona for the Queen Liliʻuokalani Trust. He was one of our cultural advisors, freely sharing with us his skill and knowledge. Although he works in many different forms, Kanani’s carving is most prized, and is featured in installations at a growing number of residences, cultural sites, and heiau. I look forward to working with Kanani again soon— his work is infused with his spirit.

Posted in Documentary, Photojournalism

Square Magazine


I’m stoked to announce the publication of a series of my photographs from Phnom Penh in the new edition of Square Magazine. Square is the online quarterly in Cardiff, UK, dedicated to square format photography, and publishes primarily the work of fine art photographers. My documentary work is a departure for them: their usual contributors are so avant garde! Maybe it’s the humanity of the people I meet, maybe it’s the limitations that I put on the project… or, the cool factor?  “Taking portraits of strangers, in a foreign country, is hard” says Christophe Dillinger, Square’s editor. “Doing it in square format is doubly hard. But so cool.” (click HERE for more)

Square 504 Cover Art

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy New Year… Got Fish?

Honolulu Fish Auction JDDF7760


I’d been meaning to shoot the Honolulu Fish Auction for a while now, but the 4AM call time is pretty rough. Last night, it dawned on me that there isn’t a better time to go there than the New Year’s Eve ahi battle. This is it, the Super Bowl of fish buying and selling! So, I grabbed two bodies, the Fuji x100s and the Panasonic GH3 with the Nocticron, and waded in. It’s a feast for the eyes— there’s so much going on. It’s a man’s world; there are very few women around. Funny thing— many of the guys wear camo and hunting gear hats. Fisherman as hunters? I guess so. There’s ice everywhere, fish blood, pallets whizzing by… great fun! A good place to practice “seeing.” Thanks, guys, for letting me into your world.

Posted in Documentary, Photojournalism Tagged , , , , , |

Huang Xiaoming!



Huang Freeze 1











October 4, 2014

Saturday night at Honolulu’s Hughes Corporation IBM Building was an amazing celebration of Chinese film and China’s hottest film star, Huang Xioming. I was there to capture the event for the good folks at the Hawaii International Film Festival. Poised to explode on screens around the world, the “heartthrob of China” is as nice as he is handsome. And, he’s easy to find: just look for the flock of beautiful women! He was presented with HIFF’s  2014 Special Achievement Award. Look for him in the upcoming John Woo film, The Crossing.

The evening also officially launched the Hawaii International Film Festival Foundation which endeavors to recognize and support emerging talent, promote original collaborations through innovative education programs and facilitate cultural exchange through the cinematic arts. Also attending was Chinese mega-star Yue Sai Kan, the “Oprah” of China, and

•in red: Nora Xu, 2014 Miss Universe China
•in blue: Karen Hu, runner up, 2014 Miss Universe China

Catch the excitement here— RED CARPET VIDEO:

Huang Xiaoming at HIFF




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Medium Format / Square / Film



Kiko: Sophia

After I returned from my last trip to Cambodia, for some reason, I came to the realization that I needed to move into 6×6 medium format. Shooting square suits me perfectly, and there’s no comparison between small format and medium format skin tone creaminess. This image of Tokiko comes from the first roll of 6×6 I exposed in my studio. I’m now at work on a series I’m calling At the Window: available light portraits at the big North window.

Posted in Uncategorized

Life on the Streets


I recently returned from a 10-day trip to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to shoot interviews for my documentary film, Out of the Dark. I talked to Nuon So Thero, madam Phaly’s son, who has taken over the mantle of leadership at Future Light Orphanage. The stories he tells about surviving the murderous Khmer Rouge are so shocking, so moving. Can you imagine yourself, at five years of age, being lead into the jungle, where a man puts his knife to your throat in preparation to kill you? In Thero’s office that afternoon, we both shed tears.

This trip provided many opportunities for still photography, and I collected enough images for a book. Please have a look in the gallery, Phnom Penh, for a sampling. You’ll see more about these images in the coming months.

Awkun (Thanks),


Posted in Documentary