This was going to be my 4th trip to Maui. It was an island I knew pretty well. I had circumnavigated it twice, had explored every dirt road I could find without trespassing… much, and I know I hit every tourist must-see landscape. Yet, this time was going to be different, much different. What I did not realize was how much of a game-changer it would be, and how it would forever change my photography.
What makes this shoot so different you ask? Well for one, this is the first time I would have a human as part of my Nature photography… well actually the subject of my Nature photography. Let’s be clear, I have gone to great lengths to avoid humans at all possible costs. They have been the absolute bane of my photography existence. Trust me when I say humans have completely ruined thousands of shots… I have all the evidence! Mindlessly wandering, humans have a tendency to walk in front of shots, look right at you completely bewildered by your presence, and appearing to be confused by the some-how “strange equipment” clutched in my hand. I guess I should be somewhat grateful as I am forced to remember the select few who have actually pushed, wiggled, and purposely squirmed their way in front of me for with the goal of ensuring they could take their own shot. Such behavior usually results in the reemergence of my no-crap-taking East Coast alter ego which I joyously unleash upon the ignorant,
However, I have picked a special human… one of my absolute favorites. Erika Lechuga Disalvo… I know her as, and readily call her, “Chuga”. She is one of my oldest and closest “Arizona Friends” and she is the perfect combination of female empowerment through the softness and caring of eastern enlightenment. I first knew her as a dancer, and then a masseuse, and now an Anusara yoga teacher. Watching her evolution and transformation over the last 2 decades makes you appreciate her all the more. Witnessing her power, both physical and inner-strength is an amazing site to behold and to do it in one of the most beautiful places on Earth is immeasurably spiritual.
Honestly, I must recant the first line of the previous paragraph. The truth is, Erika picked me. Our collaboration was completely her idea. I had never pondered what it could be… until now. And as I stated earlier, it has forever changed my photography.
It wasn’t until our first shoot in the Iao Valley, did I fully understand the potential of the collaboration of our art.