A little back story...
These folks are literally family to me. We are not related one bit, but still they are family to me. How? Let's travel back in time.
I was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. I became friends with a guy named Todd Wells (Todd is brother to the mom in this shoot). Not just friends, we were best friends. We'd have sleep overs, cause a ruckus and everything else 13/14 yr old boys do. At the end of the summer when I was 14, they moved away to Laie HI, where his dad had gotten a job as an art teacher at Brigham Young University in Hawaii.
I would visit him a couple times until my father got sick when I turned 15. My dad had multiple strokes and was not the same person. I did not know how to cope, so I rebelled. I acted out and did things I knew flat out I was not supposed to be doing.
When I was 16 I "moved" out. Call it what you, basically I was a punk kid and I was kicked out of the house for being wrapped up in things I should not have been. So, I moved to Laie HI where I lived with Charmaine, Todd and their family.
Long story short, I thought I'd move to Hawaii and keep going down the path I was headed on (NOWHERE FAST, though I did not know that at the time). But, my life totally changed living with this family. I cleaned my act up, and literally my life changed.
When I held my first workshop in Laie, people would always ask, why Hawaii. Of course they are thinking the obvious answer : "HELLO!? It is Hawaii! Who would not want to do a workshop here!". Well, yes, it is Hawaii, but it goes beyond that. The workshop was held literally a 3 minute walk from where my life changed. Laie holds a dear place in my heart. It is a place where I found who I wanted to be, a place that changed me from the inside out, and a place that is like no other I've ever been to. Had I not lived there with this amazing family, I am confident I would not be writing this today, nor would you be visiting a blog about photography by me. They are truly responsible for all of the major opportunities that have come in my life.
So, here is 3 cheers to Charmaine and the Wells family for taking a punk kid into their home and believing I could change.
The whole event can be viewed online HERE.