Island Lensmen

Showcasing three photographers entrenched in the Neighbor Islands

Dane Grady

Scan Dane Grady’s portfolio, including mesmerizing aerial shots of mountains of water colliding into glorious explosions, mellow longboard surf sessions backlit by the golden sunset and moody perspectives of waves of consequence on the Oahu’s North Shore, and it’s hard to believe that his skill began with a waterproof disposable camera. “One day I picked one up at Foodland and took it along with me,” Dane says. “I was always deeply intrigued by nature from the get go, consumed by the elements and all the subtleties that embodied growing up at the beach. The idea of capturing, seeking and preserving that magic…that’s what got me into photography. Ever since that first camera, my photography became an outlet for me to create and express my connection with life outdoors.”

“I would describe my photographic style as a blend of power and tranquility. I seek out unfathomable backwash explosions, the poetic essence of a classic single fin and more. In whatever scene I choose to work with, I strive to embed imagination and wonder in the viewer. I also love backlit scenes. I’m a sucker for that evening light.”

“My tools include a full frame 5D3 and a variety of lenses including a 28mm, 50mm, 70-20mm, and 400mm. I’m also fortunate to have friends who are pilots and can include a Hughes 500 helicopter in my arsenal when the stars align.”

“Kauai is luckily still country, and there are many inaccessible areas. It is also different because there is a grassroot protocol, as far as shooting surfing here goes. Even the local pro surfers fly to Oahu and create media on the North Shore, out of respect and preservation. Our spots are well protected and cherished. With that being said, I believe it has steered me to pursue a fine art approach to my photography, rather than solely focusing on surfing in general.”

“I almost got taken out by an aggressive male humpback whale while shooting way out in the deep blue back in 2011. These two rough toothed dolphins came up to me from out of nowhere and escorted a pod of 7 whales right past me. The big boy in the pod came right at me and slapped his fluke in the water about 10 feet away then kicked off really fast. Quite a humbling experience. I was high for months.”

“My favorite part of the photo process has to be chasing warm light, watching a swell peak, the magic, the unknown. The places my camera has brought me defines my life and shapes who I am. Constantly surrounded and in pursuit of those special moments is happiness.”

 

Jackson Bunch

Dayanidhi Das

Back in 2016, when we were looking at cover options for our Grom Issue, one photo stood out above the rest. It was Maui supergrom Jackson Bunch framed mid rotation, enveloped by a beam of light as a storm filled the sky. “I saw this black cloud moving across the sky and it split the sun in half,” Dayanidhi Das said when we interviewed him. “I realized that if anything went down in the following minutes, it would be epic.” Dayanidhi has been shooting in Maui waters for years, capturing these epic moments and creating a portfolio overflowing with images from Maui’s crop of talent, young and old. Not only is he a good source for photographic knowledge; he can also attest to the incredible pool of talent coming out of the island in the years to come.

Tai Van Dyke

“Shooting the groms came naturally. I raised my niece and nephew, and I also assist in out of kids camps and I always feel and felt like a big kid surfing, laughing, adventuring. I’m sure most islanders feel the same way, I’ve just been blessed and fortunate that I have a camera, a vehicle and the availability to shoot so often. Groms have big dreams, but what’s stronger is the purity of surfing with friends, rooting them on and stoked to be in the moment doing what they love. My favorite part is getting to bring them to gnarly surf spots (Laperouse, Freights, Honolua) for their first times and getting to witness their growth, all the while knowing that one day those new spots will be their main breaks where they will be fearlessly ripping, and I get to be there from the beginning, in the pocket capturing and encouraging. That is a dream job if I’ve ever heard of one.”

“I grew up doing martial arts, loving Bruce Lee. Two of his quotes that I love are ‘no way as way’ and ‘don’t think, feel!’ I would say these quotes fit my photography style perfectly. Shooting with Matt Meola, Albee Layer, Jackson Bunch and others – all of them being freestyle surfers – I would say I have a free style, completely immersed in the present and ready.”

“I shoot with the Nikon D750/D810 and love the 24-70 and 70-200 lenses.”

“What makes Maui different is its obvious beauty, the tight-knit family surf community and of course the endless amount of upcoming crazy charging grom rippers who are so greedy to be the best surfers in wave conditions where quality and quantity are miles less than the mecca. This makes it a great challenge, and when you finally do get that shot, it’s that much more valuable.”

“Maui groms are hungry and united, screaming support to their peers on every wave. All generations from Micah Nickens to Matt Meola, Jackson Bunch and younger are always cheering for each other, pushing each other into waves, giving instead of taking. It’s a brewing pot of badasses!”

 

Ehitu Keeling

Flynn Novak

Crackling lava seeping from the earth, snowboarding down a snow-capped mountain, and Shane Dorian and CJ Kanuha sliding through blue water barrels: Ask Ehitu Keeling what sets his portfolio apart from others, and he’ll point to the fact that the Big Island has 8-10 of the 13 major climates, which creates a spectrum of scenes to shoot. “You can shoot surf photography and underwater photos because there’s always clear water,” the Big Island native says. “You can shoot photos of the lava flow eruptions, or also take pictures of the night sky because we have such low light pollution, even shoot some snowboarding as well. All you have to do to get to each climate zone is drive.”

“I got started shooting pictures ever since I was in 2nd grade. I used disposable cameras, taking pictures of our family camping trips and sunsets and all the fish my Dad and uncles would catch. Also in High School, we had a photography class and a dark room to learn to process and develop our film. From that point, I was a fan of photography.”

Justin Norman

“My style of photography is about capturing a moment in time. I also like having backdrops or foregrounds, giving a depth of perspective. Also, you have to be on it nowadays because you have to be the one to wake up and commit to getting the shot while everyone else sleeps.”

“The camera bodies that I use to shoot are Canon 7D Mark I and II. I also use the Canon 5D Mark III for my landscape and nightscape photography. For my low light shooting, the 5D Mark III is awesome, and to capture the Milky Way, I use a Canon L-Series 24mm 1.4 aperture Prime lens. I also have the 100-400mm L-Series lens for shooting surf photography from the land. I use a Taro water housing that was given to me by Dom Derosa, who saw the potential in my surf photography and said I would do damage in the water with this waterhousing, and I use a 50mm and a 10mm Canon lens for that waterhousing.”

“I love shooting in the water, because that’s where I feel the most comfortable. There’s some really good young talent coming out of the Big Island, and of course a name that comes to mind is Brodi Sale. I remember taking him all over Big Island to surf all sorts of different waves. There are a couple other rippers and chargers as well who call the Big Island home, like Luke Heflin and Ocean Donaldson.”

“I would like to thank my cousin CJ Kanuha, who has been the one to introduce me to the surf industry as well as Shane Dorian for helping me out as well! Big thanks goes to Jeromy Hansen and Mokulele Airlines for sponsoring me and taking care of my ohana throughout the years, and mahalo to Mike Brophy and RVCA for the support as well!”

Comments

comments