Hawaii Shoot Day Twelve: Coconuts, Culture, and The Luau

Today marked the last day of shooting talent for our project with Travaasa Hana, a day of photographing various cultural activities the resort offers, capped off with shooting a traditional Hawaiian Luau – a very fitting way to end the talent portion of this shoot.

Our day began photographing Andrew, Travaasa Hana’s resident coconut expert. He showed the husking process, carved out a mature coconut, and opened a young one for fresh coconut water (definitely better than Vita Coco). Luckily for the crew and agency, there was plenty to share beyond our two models and we all had a chance to try some.

From coconuts to mai tais, we moved to the bar to photograph the “art of the mai tai,” where our models worked with the bar-tending staff of the resort to make the classic island drink for themselves. Although there were plenty of mai tais leftover, 10:30am is a little early to start drinking, especially with a handful of shots to finish.

The afternoon started with a bit of a rain delay, followed by a shot of our talent learning how to play ukulele.

Matu also took the opportunity to rock out, serenading the photo crew and our talent with his ukulele skills. Really though, what can’t a good producer do?

After ukulele shooting, everyone started to gear up for the main event of the day, the traditional Hawaiian luau. Since Chris would be photographing over two dozen guests and an entire troop of Hawaiian dancers, all hands were on deck to prepare the space. Shawn, Sky, and the crew at Hana productions were working double time to make sure we were propped and styled, the hotel staff was hard at work getting the dinner itself ready, and the photo crew was working on our most involved setup yet (you can see our local assistant, Bart in the photo above trying to catch his breath for a minute after hauling tons of gear into the set – good man Bart).

With all of our lights and gear ready, the shooting began. A central component of the Luaua is the Kalua pig, a slow cooked whole pig that is baked with hot stones, wrapped in banana leaves and buried for the entire day before the celebration. Chris was on hand to photograph chef Barry uncovering the pig from the traditonal imu underground oven.

The chef then shredded the whole roasted pig, providing a few samples to Chris and the crew. You would never think that Lava rocks and banana leaves could make for a delicious roast, but I’ve never had anything quite like it.

The celebration itself began with a conch shell blower performing a salute and asking for blessing of the meal.

Guests and performers in place, the photo crew made a few last minute tweaks to the lights (thanks Matu for scrambling up to the ceiling to adjust some of our strobes set up for the stage).

Finally the party began. As the guests and our talent enjoyed a traditional hula song and dance, Chris and the crew snapped away, capturing the entire performance. After the troop was finished, we struck the gear and enjoyed the luau ourselves with plates full of kalua pork and a few cold mai tais.

Although not quite the end of our shoot, it was a perfect time to grab a group portrait, and an equally perfect time for everyone to celebrate five days of hard work and great photos. Cheers.

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