Photo essay by Pacific Northwest photographer David Johanson Vasquez, shares his experience of photographing one of the Nation's most honored National Monuments on the Island of Oahu, Hawaii. The recently completed visitor center at the Arizona Memorial National Monument in Pearl Harbor is the assignment, but it's only part of a dynamic story of creative fortitude, history and Pan Pacific North American culture.
- 1. PEARL HARBOR PHOTO PILGRIMAGEMarch 16, 2011 Photography opportunity found within a Pacific paradise. By: David Johanson Vasquez Wether your an amateur, pro-Aloha spirit and charming land- of my planned travel to Oahu. At fessional, ne-artist or commercial scapes. that time, preliminary stages of photographer, you need to beOn the Island of Oahu Pearl design were just taking place and resourceful to have viewers takeHarbor has been a great interestthere wasnt much opportunity in interest in your work.to me. Some years back, The Por-photographing the site. Unde- For the past 11 years I havetico Group, a Seattle architectural terred, I made arrangements for a made traveling to the Hawaiianrm began exploratory work to window seat on a Hawaiian Air- Islands a priority. In this tropicdesign a component of World lines, Boeing 767, that would al- paradise, my experience is one of War II Valor in the Pacic Na-low me to take some initial aerial creative renewal, brought on by tional Monument.photographs of Pearl Harbor. inspiration from the Islands In 2008, I contacted a princi-Fortunately,, clear weather al- pal architect at Portico with newslowed me to photograph the1
2. that the project was nearing com- searched internet images and pletion. Unfortunately, the dedi- information that would assist me cation was taking place a couplein knowing the sites geographical of months before my next ight to Hawaii was scheduled. So a local photographer would be called to shoot the new center.Undaunted, I asked for the opportunity to photograph the visitor center in February, with no nancial obligation to the rm. The architect agreed to this offer by providing me with a National attributes before arriving.Park administration contact in My ight to Hawaii wasMonument on approach toHonolulu Airport. Upon returning from the tripto Oahu, my aerial photos wereemailed to the architect. I fol-lowed up with a phone call andthe feedback, although polite,revealed that it was still too earlyin the project for the rm to con-sider using photography. Honolulu. pleasant and as the plane was If your a dedicated photog-A couple of weeks before approaching Oahu I could clearlyrapher, you realize the impor- ying to Hawaii, my contact see Honolulu. However, after de-tance of patience and learning allowed me to view images the boarding the plane, blue sky hadfrom every success as well as fail-Honolulu photographer tookgiven way to a partial mixture ofure, regardless if it involves tech- back in December. The photo dark clouds. Phoning the nationalnical or marketing issues. coverage was good, with manypark services, contacts, the staff angles of the new center shot,informed me the forecast was not using various times of day forpromising for my intended early best light. This review conrmedmorning photo shoot. So my plan my approach would have to bewas to be exible for the next different from what was previ- ously used. I then re-By emailing new samples ofmy photography, I kept in contactwith Portico and learned last year2 3. week, whilemy camera on a tripod and be- watching gan taking a series of carefully localcomposed photographs. Soon weathertwilight gave way to sunrise, re- forecasts to vealing a vibrant panorama take ad- backdrop of multicolored clouds. vantage of As morning light lit the visitor the rst center, I joined legions of visitors opportu- descending upon the open gates. nity for an The shores of Pearl Harbor, and the Arizona Memorial, have continually drawn me into their honored gates time and time again. Many members of my family have served in the mili- tary, and Im grateful for their dedication, and sacri- ces dur- ing enlist- ment. What happened on an early De- cemberearly morning photo session. Af-morning,ter a few relaxing days under a at this his-blend of tropical sun with clouds,toric site,a favorable forecast came in forbroughtthe assignment. our coun-Traveling in darkness I ar- try into WWII. The individuals gave the ultimate sacrice. Anrived at the site immersed in sub-who were under re here, exem- unseen force pulls me to thistle, predawn light. On a hill I plify the strongest dedication toplace, and I offer homage todiscovered after scouting the visi- preserving and defending our what happened at his historic site.tor center a few days before, I set nation, particularly those who Another cause for my interest in this National Monument is myappreciation for history. Histori-cally, the Pearl Harbor attackrepresents a great milestone, asolid beginning of a Pax Ameri-cana, or the U.S. ascending posi-tion as undisputed world leaderfor the second half of the 20thCentury. Once inside the Monumentsentrance helpful park servicestaff, who were informed by ad-ministration ofcials to allow metotal photographic access., madetheir greetings. My morningwork went well, as I was able toefciently move about the site,photographing for several hours,from all the best angles. Leaving Pearl Harbor after asuccessful shoot, I felt fortunatethe weather had been so coop-3 4. erative, as it produced a combination of soft, dif- fused light with interest- ing clouds to ad sky tex- ture. For my remaining visit on Oahu, I had an enjoyable and relaxing time withwhile working family andand playing friends. Wein Hawaii is all came to-due to this gether forfusion of couple ofculture tak- nights toing place on celebratedthe Islands. my dadsAnother 80th birthdayinuence I in Hawaiiandraw from style withthis land is great food,the constantmediate response was enthusiasmfor the photographs presented,along with compliments towardsmy approach of using subtle lightto help illuminate compositions.Two dramatic photographs werepurchased at the presentation inorder to meet a deadline for anarchitectural awards competitiontaking place that week. Withindays, additional images were ac-quired from me that featuredviews not included in the prelimi-nary photography completed lastDecember.live music and Hula dancing.vibrant growth of plant life, alongThis photographic experienceOf course I found somewith continuos volcanic activitywas a classic lesson in fortitude,time for my personal photographywhich never slows down and cre- persistence, and not giving up, nowork. Hawaii has some remark- ates new land on a daily bases. matter what the apparent oddsable subject matter, which is al-Upon returning to a cold are.ways worth discovering. Besidewinter in Seattle, several daysMahalo nui loa!the gorgeous tropical landscapes, went by before a meeting couldthere are urban scenes with be scheduled with the Porticoblends of Ocean, South Pacic,Group. Once the meeting didAsian and North American cul- take place, a couple of lead archi-tures that create a unique, Pan-tects, along with the groups mar-Pacic experience. Perhaps theketing manager reviewed the pho-sense of renewal I experience tographs I brought in. The im-4