Photo Essays

Skewered Delight: Musing on Food Photography and the Culture of Cuisine

It is hard to believe that 2018 is in the stretch run! As the year winds to a close, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite photos from 2018 and what they mean to me. A visual musings retrospective. So each week from Thanksgiving until the New Year, I will offer one of my favorite photos of 2018.

Episode One: Skewered Delight

Have you ever witnessed a master chef at work? His or her meticulous movements, precision, and thoughtful attention to detail. From prestigious Michelin chefs to grandma agelessly tending the simmering pot, it is wonderful culinary art. In particular, I love watching the hands as they carefully craft, shape and (in this case) skewer. During my Indonesian sojourn, I was greeted with a pleasant smile by this Balinese cook as he prepared my spicy chicken satay. The duration of my gaze, however, turned the smile into a concerned look of “why is this foreigner staring at me for so long?!?” Nonetheless, the photo is evidence that, in the end, it was worth it. [For me, at least!] I came away with a tasty treat, fun photo and glimpse into the culinary art of satay. Now that is some successful snacking.

Musings commenced as a food and wine blog and, although it has evolved into photojournalism, culinary topics are never far out of sight. The reason is simple: food is fascinating, and I really like eating it.

For this reason, food is always a priority in my travels [and perhaps just life generally]. Few things excite me more than unexplored flavors, aromas and ingredients. Why, you ask? Apart from being delicious, food is an expression of individual and cultural identity: it evidences who we are and the road we have traveled. I absolutely love the story food tells.

And, in my opinion, stories are best when you can eat them after.

More than just the artful capture of food preparation, this photo for me represents a new culture and cuisine previously unexplored: Indonesia. From push cart peddlers offering tasty street treats (including spicy satay) to the hospitality and warmth of a Muslim family kitchen, the people and cuisine of Indonesia are, quite simply, extraordinary.

[You can read about some of my Indonesian food adventures here, here, and here].

Favorite new food from 2018? Easy choice. Beef Rendang, a Sumatran dry curry dish packed with ginger, chili, kaffir lime and more spices than you can count. Extraordinarily complex in flavor, this dish will blow your mind.


Cheers!

Musings by the Surf: Good Vibes and Great Surf at the Kailua Shorebreak Classic.

Musings by the Surf: Good Vibes and Great Surf at the Kailua Shorebreak Classic.

Hurricane Lane could only postpone the inevitable. The Kailua Shorebreak Classic was back in full throttle on October 20th at Kalama Beach Park. Celebrating the lives of four legendary Kailua surfers and watermen, the free amateur surf competition represents much more than showcasing some crazy talented keiki. It is a day committed to community building, environmental stewardship, and (of course) friendly competition. My previous post provides a summary of the Shorebreak Classic and its core tenets.

A brown water advisory for the day meant that … well … the keiki were not dropping in on picturesque azure blue waves. A little Dirty Water, however, would not discourage these grommets from a day of sun and surf. Brown or blue, there were waves to conquer.  

To photogenically avoid the Yoo-Hoo dilemma, I dusted off my black-and-white photography toolkit. While this is a seldom-used style for me, I hope that the images can uniquely capture the faces, emotions, and relationships of this vibrant surf culture. 

Exuding a retro surf vibe, this photo essay is best paired with a few Dick Dale classics. So crank up the tunes and enjoy some Musings by the Surf at the 14th Annual Kailua Shorebreak Classic.

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The Balinese Road Less Traveled

The Balinese Road Less Traveled

Any reference to Bali typically conjures images of picturesque sunsets, stunning waterfalls, and world-class waves that would stoke any surfer. But while the natural beauty of Bali initially captures our attention, its people and culture add the richness and vibrancy that make this island stand apart from any other destination on earth.

This Photo Essay documents my recent travels to Bali, focusing on the roads less traveled and exploring the culture of this incredible island and the people that make it so uniquely special. 

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The Sumatran Sojourn: Life on the Street in Lubuklinggau

The Sumatran Sojourn: Life on the Street in Lubuklinggau

Most tourists to Indonesia flock to the azure blue waters and sandy beaches of Bali and Lombok, its most famous islands. There is much in this vibrant and diverse country, however, that extends beyond the wandering eyes of the outside world. It is amongst the Indonesian roads less traveled that I have found the most rich and rewarding experiences.

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Indonesia and the Portrait of a Thousand Faces

Indonesia and the Portrait of a Thousand Faces

We encounter countless strangers in our daily commutes to work, the gym, to restaurants and pubs. On most occasions, we pass them by without notice. We are too busy, too shy, or simply don't care. 

But what if we didn't? What if instead we made an effort to see, to smile, or even engage in conversation? What would we see, and would it change us?

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Visual Musings: A Photo Essay of Haleakalā, the House of the Sun

Visual Musings: A Photo Essay of Haleakalā, the House of the Sun

In my inaugural Visual Musings, A Cambodian Retrospective, I explained how images can often convey emotion and invite reflection in ways that words cannot. Looking through the lens should always result in seeing life with greater clarity, and helping others to do the same. With that motive, Visual Musings was devised to offer themed photo essays of place, purpose or narrative. 

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Visual Musings: A Cambodian Retrospective

Visual Musings: A Cambodian Retrospective

Photography can often convey emotion and invite reflection in ways that words cannot. Looking through the lens should always result in seeing life with greater clarity, and helping others to do the same. For these reasons, I offer the first in a series entitled Visual Musings that offers themed photo essays of place, purpose or narrative.

For me, no trip greater encompasses all of these components than my Cambodian sojourn in the summer of 2016. Emotion and thoughtful reflection were working overtime. Tremendous poverty and long-endured persecution were interspersed with joy and generosity that exemplified the incredible character and resilience of the Cambodian people. Engineering feats nearly a thousand years old demonstrated the limitless capacity of human innovation. And, of course, the stunning natural beauty of Southeast Asia. It is truly one of my favorite places on earth.

On the two-year anniversary of that trip, it is a fitting commencement to my Visual Musings.

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