» Moving to Hawaii to Pursue Photography and Composition
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Moving to Hawaii to Pursue Photography and Composition


View of Diamond Head from Tantalus Lookout, March 2015. Taken with iPhone with Hipstamatic App.


Well, as some of you may or may not know, I have finally moved back to Hawaii (March 2015). This is where my journey to learn more about composition and design started. When I was doing google searches on the Golden Section and stumbled upon Myron Barnstone’s videos. It’s great to be back, and I really appreciate those of you who have followed me from Hawaii, to the East Coast, and back again. It’s been an amazing, difficult, and unforgettable journey! Much love to all of The Master Pass members, and Canon of Design book readers who have really helped support me during this move. I really can’t thank you enough!

The Difficulty of Moving to Hawaii

Even though I lived here before, and still had some contacts, it was still extremely difficult to move back to Oahu. I spent 10 months of planning and saving with my girlfriend Mandy to make it a “smooth move,” but there were still some unexpected hiccups. We didn’t have a place to live, we didn’t have a job lined up, we had minimal connections, we had to ship a car. Oh, did I mention we flew here with birds? That’s a whole other ball of wax that only my girlfriend could begin to explain. A long story short, we had to hang out in Seattle for a week to quarantine the birds before coming to the island (Hawaii is super strict about bringing animals of any kind. This is completely understandable because they want to protect the ecosystem and keep anything like rabies or other viruses far away).

Finding a Place to Live

So, what did we do about finding a place to live? Well, it seems all of the realtors we talked to wanted you ON ISLAND to view the apartment before they would let you sign a lease. This, along with the fact that 90% of all apartments don’t allow pets, let alone birds which have a very bad reputation on the island for being loud. I searched Trulia, Zillow, Craigslist, and every other type of real estate options to try and find the perfect home for us…two months in advance. As we got more and more desperate to find a place, we started offering to sign a lease and pay rent even though we weren’t on the island yet. Just to seal the deal and ease our minds. This is when we started to make progress. After contacting place after place, “Sorry, no pets. Sorry, no animals allowed.” We finally found a place on Craigslist a week before we moved. It was perfect for us. One bedroom, great price, close to Waikiki beach, we didn’t need to see the apartment in person, and they accepted birds (as long as they remain quiet). This was a huge relief!

After talking back and forth with the realtor for a week, FedEx’ing them a signed application, two most recent check stubs, there was still an issue. The amount of money we were making on the East Coast was fine, but he said it counted as a ZERO since we didn’t have anything lined up in Hawaii. We didn’t know what to do, except to offer all of our savings to get the apartment. It worked! When we offered to pay six months of rent up front they quickly let us sign the lease and invited us with open arms. Money talks. Whew!

The place looked just like the pictures on Craigslist, thankfully! It was just cosmetically damaged in some areas and a bit dirty in others. It’s perfect for us though!

Shipping the Car

When we shipped the car, it was surprisingly painless…for the most part. We researched most companies and found that Hawaii Car Transport was the least expensive. Setting up the pickup was very easy. They only have a few requirements which are keeping the gas tank lower than 1/4 of a tank, cleaning the car, and having the car in good operating condition. I guess this is to avoid explosions during transport, and ensure that any damage created was caused by you, not them.

Getting the title for my girlfriend’s car was challenging because it was lost in the mail when she paid it off, but it turns out the title wasn’t even required for the shipment…just a debit or credit card. Hey, they have to get paid! So, they picked it up close to my girlfriend’s work, loaded it up, then drove it from the East Coast to California. After that it was shipped in a vessel to Honolulu.

Reading the reviews and BBB for Hawaii Car Transport, we expected the car to be delayed by about a week, but a nice surprise was that it arrived in three weeks, two days before us. We were so relieved to get a phone call from the shipping yard which was Horizon Lines. And we couldn’t thank Mandy’s parents enough for allowing us to use their car for three weeks while we were shipping ours. If you don’t have the luxury of borrowing someone’s car for three weeks, the bus here in Hawaii is always running and very reliable.

Finding someone crazy/kind enough to drive through New York to JFK airport at 3:30 am was a bit much to ask of anyone, so we rented a car from Allentown airport to JFK for around $80, and just dropped it at the airport. Convenience is sometimes worth every penny!


View of the entrance to Manoa Falls, March 2015. Taken with iPhone with Hipstamatic App.

Shipping Our Stuff

We had to use one of my sister’s friends to agree to help store our boxes in her garage until we arrived two weeks later. These weren’t just any old boxes. They were very large and filled to the brim. Most of them weighing 50-80 pounds. Accepting these packages was a lot to ask of anybody, but she agreed to help out. Of course this didn’t go smoothly and ended up costing us more money.

Unfortunately, because of a shipping discount I received, we had to pick the packages up at the shipping station. I guess any time there is a discount involved they don’t want to spend the extra money in delivering the packages to the address listed. This is understandable, and we appreciate the shipping discount, but what a pain. The whole purpose of sending the packages to someone’s house was to keep them there while we were in Seattle getting the birds quarantined.

After several phone calls and dealing with customer service reps at the shipping company, we learned that our stuff was on a pallet at the terminal and would be held for us until 12pm on Wednesday, March 4th. Well, it just so happens that our plane was flying in at noon on the 4th, and there was no way we could make it there in time. Our stuff would be sent back to who-knows-where if we didn’t get it. A decision had to be made. We had to buy a plane ticket for me to fly in on March 3rd, so I could get the packages in time.

The ticket I had already purchased would be void because it was under $200 and the cost to change a plane ticket was $200. You’re welcome for the money Delta! Anyway, I flew in early, took a taxi to the Uhaul location, drove to the shipping terminal, loaded up the pallet full of heavy boxes, drove to the leasing company to sign the lease and get the keys to the apartment, drove to the apartment, carried 14 heavy boxes up to the third floor by myself, breathed, drank water, drove the Uhaul truck to a bird store 1hr away (because of rush hour traffic), loaded up 6 more heavy boxes, drove back to the apartment, unloaded the heavy cages and lugged them up the stairs, then  assembled them before my girlfriend arrived with the birds on the following day. Wow, was I exhausted! Oh yes, how could I forget the trip to good ol’ Walmart to try and find a comfy air mattress for me to sleep on?

Well, it all worked out for us in the end. I picked up my girlfriend at the airport. Put a nice, aromatic Lei around her neck as she arrived (Hawaii tradition), grabbed her bags, walked to the quarantine office, got the birds (Molly and Daisy) which were ecstatic to see us, then drove them to our new home. It was a huge, stressful, exciting adventure and we are grateful to finally be here and so happy with everything.

What’s in Store for the Canon of Design

Now that I am back in paradise and able to go outside without freezing my fingers off, or being obliterated by snow, I will be teaching composition and photography by way of workshops, online videos, and one-on-one tutoring. There’s an interview that I conducted with Myron Barnstone (see #369) before I left which still needs to be edited. I’m going to delve into more landscape photography which adheres to the design techniques which I teach. I’m also going to paint and draw, and even look into teaching color theory so it’s easy to understand and apply to art. Street photography around Waikiki will also be a goal of mine, and I hope to teach workshops on this in the future. Lots of inspiration and goals to achieve and there’s plenty of sunshine to help me accomplish them all! I can’t wait to share the future with you and other artists of your caliber. Thank you so much for supporting me. Please share the info on this site to help change the future of art with me.

Read the 2016 update HERE.


Sunset in Waikiki, March 2015. Taken with iPhone with Hipstamatic App.

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