Multi Media Projects
The Last of the Hawaiian Cowboys (click here to watch)
This multi media documentary explores Hawaii's cowboy culture which has been around since before there were cowboys in the western United States.
Most people don’t know this but there are actually cowboys in Hawaii. Yes, there are also palm trees, mai tais, surfers and hula dancers and the weather down by the shore is pretty near perfect every day but the cowboys or “paniolos” as they are called locally, have been around longer than cowboys in the west and must certainly have preceded mai tais. The Hawaiian cowboy culture emerged back in the 1800s and to this day remains insular and completely unique to Hawaii with its own music, rituals, language etc.
Sadly, in recent years, high land taxes, increases in energy costs and a changing climate have all negatively impacted the viability of ranching in Hawaii. As a result, large areas of ranchland have been sold for development and many of the ranches struggle to survive. ATVs have begun to replace mounted horses for herding cattle in open ranges and many cowboys have been laid off. Today, the number of cowboys are small and they hold tightly to the community they live in. Nobody knows how long they’ll be around for.
Determined to document and preserve this culture before it disappears completely, I spent many months over a two year period photographing this community and recording interviews, music and ambient audio. I focused primarily on two large multi-generational paniolo families–the Ho’opais and the Keakealanis–to create a photo story and multi media project that would reflect the cultural richness and examine the paniolos’ future outlook.
I had such a wonderful experience working on this story. I photographed on horseback during a few cattle drives, shot aerials from a tiny 1955 piper cub about the size of a mini cooper, woke up at 4am on too many mornings, ate calf testicles (a paniolo delicacy) five minutes after “removal” and got to experience the closeness of these multiple generational families. I was struck by this extraordinary privilege to document a piece of living history and the power photography has to create a visual record of a culture that may be on its way out.
India's Devadasi System (click here to watch)
This multi media documentary explores India's Devadasi System--an ancient form of religiously-sanctioned prostitution still practiced in India today.
Years ago, I discovered a small article about the Devadasi system. I was stunned to discover that this practice, which began in the 9th century, is still going on in India today. With few leads online and almost no literature about the system, I decided to go to India and see what I could learn about this extraordinary practice of religiously sanctioned prostitution.
To Play or Not to Play (click here to watch)
This short documentary explores the crackdown on musicians in Central Park.
While taking a documentary film-making class at the International Center for Photography in the winter of 2013, I discovered some wonderful classical musicians playing in Central Park. I was so moved by the beauty of their music and after listening to them quite a few times, I struck up a conversation with them. I was saddened to discover that there was an ongoing crackdown on musicians playing in certain parts of the park, including in the area they played in. This sparked the idea for a short documentary piece on them and their conundrum.