Typing the title of this post still felt like a dream world that I don’t actually inhabit. It is such an honor to be named one of Rangefinder Magazine’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography in 2019 and I can hardly believe that this is real life. It was a little bit of a wild ride! Read on to see what I mean.
In July, the day my husband left for a deployed exercise in California, I was feeling apprehensive about the summer to come. I was going to be alone on Oahu for four months and I had a lot of travel coming up which would require family to fly out and pet sit for us. We were on our way to Lanikai Beach to spend a morning snorkeling before the chaos of Brent leaving. I remember checking my e-mail on the way to the beach and seeing an e-mail from Rangefinder Magazine explaining that I had been nominated and invited to submit to the 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography. I read it twice, checked the e-mail it was from, and thought it was perhaps a not-so-nice joke or something because while I had dreams of being nominated, I never thought they’d come true. You have to be nominated for this by trusted industry professionals. I stuttered in disbelief as I told Brent what had happened. That morning on the beach was more joyous than I thought possible and as I snorkeled around, I found a sea turtle in the rarest of places which just seemed to fit.
After the initial shock and excitement, I realized I actually had to come up with a submission! To say I was nervous would be an understatement.The task of going through two years of wedding photography work to choose just 30 images seemed a mighty one. And I had no idea what I might write about myself! Rangefinder comments, “Every year when the editorial and creative staff at Rangefinder is judging these submissions, they look for compelling narratives, consistent technique, visual cohesion and diverse subject matter, sourced from all parts of a wedding day, shot with an artistic flair grounded in truth.” It really is no small task to try and live up to that! It took me nearly the full time allowed to decide on images with the help of my trusted best friend and closest family, all sworn to secrecy. I had decided that rather than try and submit images that I felt would do well, I would submit images that really spoke to my heart. Images that made me feel. I had only to hope that the judges would also feel them. When it came down to the deadline, I almost backed out. I almost let myself decline the invitation out of fear. After a good long look in the mirror, I told myself that it didn’t matter if I didn’t win. I was nominated. That in and of itself was something special and I could be happy just knowing I tried. So I hit submit and promptly freaked out 😉
In August, nearing the time of the judges’ decision, I got an e-mail from 30 Rising Stars and my stomach leapt. It was only an extension to the original decision date because “competition is fierce,” they said. My stomach then dropped. I tried not to worry over the following six days, but it’s fair to say it was like a roller coaster. Then, in early September, I got the decision e-mail. I could only see the first few lines in the preview given in my e-mail inbox, “Thanks so much for your patience! The judges have made their decision: You are” and I knew I would need to open the e-mail to find out. A part of me was hesitant since it could say “are” or “are not” but I took a deep breath and clicked on the e-mail to find the sentence said, “You are a Rangefinder 30 Rising Star of Wedding Photography in 2019!” Chills swept through me as I gasped aloud, “Oh my God.” I sat alone in the morning light, tears slipping down my cheeks. I could not believe that this moment had truly come. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude, of humbleness even in the face of such an honor.
I remember when I first began my career, I looked up to so many of the past 30 Rising Stars. The early days were so endlessly inspired by these photographers. It was unreal to think that my name would now be among theirs. That I could now call myself an award winning photographer. It all set in with a beautiful, heavy weight of knowing I would now carry that extra responsibility to keep creating unique work just as they had. But then there is that pesky part of keeping it an absolute secret until the official release two months later. Like torture of the best kind hahaha I did my best to keep busy while the months went by, prepping my site for relaunch since it was time for a new design. It helped that family came and went while I spent time with them and traveled all over to Banff, Portland, Boston, Idaho, and Maine.
Now, here we are. November first has arrived and I can officially share the news with all of you that I was named one of Rangefinder Magazine’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography! See the official announcement here or check out my gallery on the Rangefinder site. What I find most humbling is that I was the first to represent Hawaii in this honor! According to the announcement, “This year marks our most international yet. It includes all kinds of countries from several continents around the world, some of which—Hawaii, Finland, Slovenia, etc.—are completely new to the competition.” Holy smokes, guys! I’m still shaking my head because I can’t believe this is real life.
Thank you to each and every person who has inspired me, encouraged me, made me stronger + better. Thank you to all of my amazing couples who continue to put trust in me to document their most treasured moments. I hope to continue to grow as an artist and fill this new role I was granted <3