I think photography has much in common with golf: One great shot keeps you coming back for more.
As an amateur photographer, I drag my trusty SLR to the beach to monitor Hawaiian monk seals. I pack it every Friday when I head for the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. (The albatrosses and whales are back, by the way.) And I attach my cool Lensbaby to capture some artsy images of the endangered alula when it blooms each spring and summer in my backyard. And sometimes I get lucky. You know, the bird flies directly into my viewfinder. A Hawaiian monk seal pup galumphs my way with a sandy face and a smile. And the evening light saturates the flower’s buttery petals just so. It helps that I take full advantage of my 4 gigabyte compact-flash card by clicking away exposure after exposure, thinking, maybe just one will turn out.
Just as fun, for me, is enjoying other photographers’—real photographers’—images. And one such real photographer who produces beautiful images is Linda Ching.
Linda’s approach to photography is nothing like mine. She doesn’t fire off dozens of exposures and hope for the best. Linda’s artistry requires much more knowledge and planning. When viewing Linda’s work, you can tell she had a vision of what she wanted to capture long before she picked up the camera and tripped the shutter. That may be because her photography is influenced by Hawaiian mythology. That may also be because each image shares a message—a Hawaiian value.
From 1998 to 2007, Linda Ching was commissioned to photograph a series of feature stories for a magazine, and she turned her camera to exploring mo’olelo, the stories of Old Hawaii. For the past year, she has worked at compiling her favorite images from that decade and marrying those images with her own words—what the stories mean to her.
The result is Ao: Ten Years of Light.
In this hardbound, coffee-table-sized, photographic book, Linda shares her interpretation of numerous Hawaiian legends that include Pele’s dream time, Maui’s conception, Children of the Rainbow, the Bowl of Light and Ku and the breadfruit tree, among others.
It’s exquisite. A treasure. You could read a story a day, staring into an image and meditating upon its meaning. You might like to sit on your lanai at sunset with a glass of wine in hand and gaze upon the images, slowly flipping the pages. You may like the collection so much that you decide to share it—give it as a gift. Whatever you do, I’ll bet Linda’s images imprint on your mind the way old-time photographs developed in a dark-room. Slowly. Surely. Indelibly.
Oh, yes, if you’d like to meet the artist in person, Linda will be signing book (and presumably selling them, as well) on these upcoming dates:
December 4: Borders Express Maui, 1:00 p.m. – 3:0 p.m.
December 4: Borders Maui, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
December 11: Bishop Museum, 10:00 a.m. - Noon
December 11: Macy’s Ala Moana, 4th Floor, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.