Molokai, Hawaii Photography Workshop – Day 2

Halawa valley, Molokai, Hawaii.

Halawa valley, Molokai, Hawaii.

Hear Rikki read “Seeing Simply.” © Richard A Cooke III. Used with permission.


I’m walking down a dusty street in Madurai, India at midnight with close friends, Paul Liebhardt and Dan & Janine Patitucci. At this point in my life, I had been living in Tamil Nadu for over a year and had come down to the lowlands to meet the Patitucci’s for their first trip to India. The fun level was low. I could see the discomfort in their eyes at the overwhelming cacophony for all six senses that is the sub continent. Streets full of people, cows, chickens, potholes and smells of things that should not be left in public was taking a toll on my friends — when out of the blue, Paul started yelling into the night “Use Condoms! Please Use Condoms!”

A master photographer and long time instructor at Brooks Institute, Paul often starts out his classes of new students by stating “the world doesn’t need any more photos – so why are you here?” The students sit in stunned silence as they ponder this simple but profound question. As they sweat in their seats knowing they will be called on to explain exactly why they are sitting in Paul’s class, he goes on to talk about how everything under the sun has been photographed and photographed well. So why do we keep on taking pictures? Why does that question put Paul’s students on their heels?

To me, and to any photographer, the answer to why I keep taking pictures is as simple and nonsensical as the answer to the question of why Indians, or Americans or anyone else on the face of the planet keeps making babies. The world doesn’t need any more of either one, but we keep doing both because love, beauty and the desire to tell our story are hardwired into our psyche.

Mother Molokai was at her finest today. Trade winds, sun, spits of rain, and the ever-present chorus of birds followed me down to the east end of the island. Although I had been there many times before, I couldn’t help myself from pressing the shutter again and again and again as I was held captive by a leaf, a landscape, and life itself.

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