Kealoha | Hula | San Francisco

To watch a hula is like reading a book. A book about Hawaii’s past, present and future. It is said that Hula is the literature of the Hawaiian people... ~ from THE HULA by Daniel Kikawa

One of the most powerful things I've ever read about hula was...

Hula is the indigenous expression of a whole culture, in dance and storytelling. Dancing the hula demands dedication, because the ‘ōlapa know that they are messengers of a language older than time.

If you know me at all, you know there are two things that have always been prevalent in my life - Hula & Photography, and I am completely in love with both! There is an unspeakable beauty that I see in hula, in every movement, in every hand gesture, in every gaze of the eyes. It's something that commands respect. Can you imagine, having the responsibility of telling the history of an entire culture. Sharing a story about their heritage, their traditions, and their beliefs. It's a huge responsibility that every 'olapa [hula dancer] must take seriously and be proud of. It truly is an honor to be a hula dancer...


I've wanted to have a hula photoshoot for quite some time now, aside from the miscellaneous photoshoots I've done for the halau(s) I've danced for, I wanted something more personal, with one dancer. Since I can't take photographs of myself dancing lol, I decided to recruit some help. In this particular post, I want to share a few photographs of my beautiful co-worker Rebecca Kealoha. We are both hula dancers, so that helped when the photoshoot came around. I knew what would look authentic, natural and what would look posed. We decided to meet up at the iconic Baker Beach in San Francisco, on a beautiful evening in July. We had an idea for a shoot, that would show hula exists outside of Hawai'i...right here in California, among so many other states.

A few weeks beforehand I had ordered some ti leaves from Hawai'i, for this shoot. I made the pa'u la'i [ti leaf skirt] and she made the haku [head lei] and kupe'e [wrist/ankle bracelets]. The evening of the shoot, I believe it was around 4-5pm when we arrived, the water was freeeeeezing but amazingly there wasn't any fog to be seen and we had a magnificent clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge. (I say "amazingly" because the very next day I had another shoot at this beach and the fog was so thick, I could hardly see 5ft in front of me lol). SF beaches are truly unpredictable...

We grabbed all of our gear and walked down to the beach. Now, because it was summer time and a weekend, the beach was full of tourists, so we had to find a small part that was not too populated. I had to maneuver the shot to avoid a lot of background clutter [people]. Not surprisingly enough, we drew a little attention lol. I even had to ask some stranger to not take photographs of her while our shoot was going on [I mean come on people...that is soooo rude]. But we proceeded on, and got some really good photos from this shoot. I can't wait to have another hula photoshoot :)

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