Not Your Typical Senior Portraits in Wailea, Maui

Senior Portraits don’t have to be all smiles and cheesy poses. My Maui beach senior portrait sessions get their inspiration from the fashion world. We should all get to be models once in our lives and what better time than when we are young and beautiful. 

Of course, you should be smiling and happy in a few, but we all know that doesn’t sum up the teenage years. There is a lot of self reflection, a lot of important decision making- and frankly- a lot of depth to these seniors that is just as beautiful.

It takes a lot of courage to be on the other side of the camera. I should know- I tried it once and it is DEFINITELY not for me. To come out of your shell on a public beach and put yourself on display takes confidence. I admire these badass seniors who go for it. You cannot fake confidence in a photo- you just have to be in the moment and own it. Thank you for putting your trust in me.

Ahhh… To be young and beautiful again….

The more exaggerated and idiotic you feel during your photo shoot- the better. The best pictures are usually the ones that feel ridiculous, like twirling around on the beach in front of strangers. Just like real modeling- you have to get into it. I applaud you, oh, brave seniors who take on a Maui beach photo shoot. I vow to never make you look silly.

Creative Fun Maui Family Photos in Beautiful Wailea Location

I often get asked for recommendations for the most beautiful Maui beach for family photos. There are several that come to mind, but I have a favorite in Wailea because of all the variety it offers within a short walking distance. This spot has it all. It is relatively uncrowded, offers white sand, lava rocks, island views, a long stretch of beach, palm trees, drift wood, and even a few tropical spots on the walk down.

My return clients agreed with me and we were not disappointed. Apart from a few ants on our driftwood, it was a photographer’s dream Maui location. These siblings had grown so much since our last session when the family visited Maui a few years ago. It is such an amazing compliment when families remember me and ask me for another Maui family portrait session.

We make sure to get individual portraits that really capture the personalities of the children at whatever age/stage they’re at.

In my opinion, sunset is the absolute best time for outdoor photography. You get such a mix of daytime and sunset colors in a 1 hour session. It is the perfect amount of time to capture every relationship, from siblings to parent couples.

You can go from soft, natural lit casual backdrops to stunning, dramatic, breathtaking sunsets which further adds to your gallery variety. 

A quick change in camera settings and you can also go from stunning sunset portraits to creative, fun silhouettes.

When the light is almost gone and it starts to get dark, I like to focus on detail shots that don’t require a lot of light.

These are out of order, but from the walk down we stop on a little patch of grass that doesn’t look like much to the naked eye. But cropped just right and you have a tropical garden setting all your own.

A little further ahead and we come to a wooden bridge lined with palm trees. We only spend about 5 minutes here, but it is enough to add some fun greenery and variety to your gallery.

If you want it all (from tropical backdrops, to stunning sunsets, to candid natural light photos), please give me a call and schedule your Maui family portrait session today! Mahalo for reading! – Maui Photographer, Jonelle Littleton

Large Extended Family Portraits in Wailea, Maui

Summer is here and for some that means a Maui vacation with their extended family. Mothers, fathers, children, grandparents, aunties and uncles often come from all over the mainland to meet for a rare, memorable trip (and family reunion of sorts) on our beautiful Hawaiian island. Such a momentous occasion must be documented- which is where I come in. This family of 16 and I decided on a 90 minute sunset session to capture the large group, smaller family units, couples, and every relationship in between. With multiple small children, I focus on the most important shots first. We get a few options throughout the session of everyone together.

Next we move on to important shots with the children (you know, before we lose anybody). Having grandparents with all of the kiddos is always on the top of our list.

Getting six cousins together under the age of eight requires great lighting, patience, careful planning (towards the beginning of the session, when I am still new and interesting) and one crazy uncle standing behind the camera. You also have to be willing to make a complete fool of yourself for laughs. 

With those super important shots checked off our list, we can move on to other important combinations with the youngest children first. Usually I start with siblings.

Since these are also very important to have, we get a variety of backdrops including some tropical and some beach.

Next we focus on individual family photos. Starting with the youngest children first, we get a couple different family photos  (some posed and some candids).

Then we switch with other families by ages of the children.

     It is important to stop and give the kids a little break. I like to step back and capture candid photos during this time.

Typically, I save the most patient groups for last- usually the ones of couples and adults. However, sometimes if the kids are doing well, we can get these shots throughout the session.

These two were celebrating 40 years! This was the reason everyone came together.

We also took some photos with the original four.

Before the sun is gone, we get anything else that is nice to have- like all the girls and all the boys.

Please give me a call today to schedule your Maui family photos- Mahalo for reading! – Maui Photographer, Jonelle Littleton

Stormy Day Maui Beach Maternity Photos

     A rare thunderstorm in Wailea, Maui rolled in, but that didn’t stop our beach maternity session. My clients had a full itinerary, so rescheduling this session was not an option. We drove to Kihei, about 15 minutes North to the little patch of blue sky we could find. This first photograph perfectly sums of the mood of the shoot- storm brewing in the background, but carefree from having found the sunshine. 

We weren’t the only ones who wouldn’t let the storm stop our mission. To the left was a wedding and to our right a family portrait shoot. It’s a small island so I knew the other photographers. We gave each other a nod, exchanged courtesies and went about our business. When trying to find a little patch of sand for us to shoot (as we were in a very small space), I stumbled upon this breathtaking view between lava rocks.

After a quick wardrobe change under a towel, to our amazement, the sun popped out from behind the clouds and lit up this little cove like it was meant for us to find. My client was glowing 🙂

Even in this small space, we were able to change our angles and get these beautiful palm trees against the lava rock. As her husband touched her belly for this shot, he excitedly exclaimed that the baby kicked. I reached in my bag for a sand dollar I picked up on vacation in California to help express the love my clients were feeling about meeting their little one.

The wind was pretty strong, but it worked to our advantage, blowing my beautiful client’s hair just perfectly as her husband kissed her cheek.

We were so fortunate to have a stunning sunset to finish off this Maui maternity session. The moral of the story- don’t get discouraged when mother nature isn’t cooperating. Sometimes those crappy weather days end up making the most beautiful photos.

– Maui Photographer, Jonelle Littleton

Surprise Engagement on Remote Maui Location By Helicopter with Air Maui

I have been holding on to these surprise engagement photos with Air Maui Helicopters for a while now, as I wanted to give the couple a chance to make their own announcements. Time passed, I got busy with other things and forgot to ever share them. When I came across this gallery today, I knew I had to finally share. Seth had a grand plan for his surprise proposal. He had booked a tour with Air Maui Helicopters for he and his girlfriend, Noelle. He also bought me a ticket on the tour, which would stop on a beautiful remote cliff, where he would pop the question. I was to play photo enthusiast tourist, while secretly capturing the whole thing. I jumped at the opportunity. While this isn’t my focus with photography, I have done many surprise engagements on Maui and was up to the challenge and welcomed something new and exciting. After all, who says no to a helicopter tour. I arrived early and noted some of the details of the location.

Before long, Seth and Noelle showed up. They looked happy in love and I could tell she had no idea. Luckily, Air Maui was in on the whole scheme and made sure to get them loaded first so I could get these shots. While in flight, Air Maui was smart enough to position me behind them, to the right, so it just appeared as if I was shooting the views. I was actually shooting the views, partly for the story line of the photos, partly to not look suspicious, and partly because the views were just awesome.

After an amazing tour of waterfalls I have never seen in 12 years on Maui, we landed on a remote cliff with breathtaking views. The moment was coming. I quickly switched to my zoom lens and played photo enthusiast along with the other members of the flight who were taking photos. Seth and Noelle walked away, as planned and I snapped shots randomly at different angles as to not blow my cover.

Then it happened. He got down on one knee and everyone held their breath. The other tour participants took notice of this as well and while they saw me shooting, they still had no idea that I was hired to be there. She said yes, and everyone let out their breath. A giant smile was glued to my face as I kept snapping away. 

By this time, I thought my cover was blown, but it wasn’t until Seth pointed me out that Noelle ever had any idea of the elaborate scheme.

As the other attendants and pilot cheered, shook hands, and congratulated Seth, I geared up for a few photos back inside the helicopter.  

Once we landed, Air Maui had champagne waiting for the newly engaged couple. Just when Noelle thought it was over, Seth had more surprises up his sleeve. He had also hired me to come back in the evening to beautiful beach to capture some more controlled engagement photos.

We met at one of my favorite locations in Wailea, Maui (Mokapu Beach) later that evening, after the couple had a chance to celebrate and reflect on the exciting happenings of the day.

A beautiful ring now adorned Noelle’s finger for the beach photo session.

The two were so photogenic and natural together. It was easy. The hard part was over.

It was wonderful of Seth to give Noelle a chance to prepare for photos in addition to the surprise shots. A girl loves to prepare for these things- not to mention the wind on the cliff was a bit intense.

I thank you, Seth for trusting me with such a special day. I definitely felt the pressure as I knew a lot had gone into the planning of this surprise engagement. Fortunately, I perform extremely well under pressure and almost look forward to it- it makes me feel really alive, if that makes any sense. While this won’t become my specialty anytime soon (A fellow photographer acquaintance is already focusing on these), I absolutely loved changing it up and getting to participate in this experience of a lifetime, for both my clients and myself.

Mahalo for reading! – Maui Photographer, Jonelle Littleton