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Under The Surface

Updated: Apr 27

A few months ago we here at GFH were feeling ready to do another photoshoot using wearable flowers. One of our staff members Jade happened to be having a birthday (and also happens to look great in front of a camera) so we had our model secured.


After throwing around ideas for a theme, we decided to use the shoot as a way to spread awareness around taking care of our beaches & oceans. What started off as some floral fun turned into a collaborative photoshoot with photographer James Rubio, inspired by conservation groups like Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The theme we opted for is "under the surface".


The idea is that often times what we see upon first glance is not the full reality. We see this a lot in the era of social media, where filters can hide flaws and false information can be spread like wildfire. Irl (In real life), too, there are always things beneath the surface that are more complex than they appear. People are a great example - as you get to know someone, you'll find more and more layers and nuances to them that you didn't recognize before.


This metaphor extends literally to our beaches and oceans here in Hawaii. There's so much happening underneath the surface, from temperature changes to erosion to thousands of species of marine life trying to thrive and coexist in a world that has become increasingly polluted and dangerous for them.


As we look beyond the photo-filtered views, the pristine tide pools and spotless shorelines shown in brochures and posted by instagram influencers, we begin to notice and appreciate all these intricate elements of nature. Unfortunately, too often we see disregard for Hawaii's 'āina (land) and moana (ocean) in the form of trash left on the ground, as well as things like plastics and sunscreens being used which can be destructive to Hawaii's ecosystem.


This is why we felt it was important to help highlight this issue. Leaving our rubbish in nature, coming in inappropriate contact with wildlife, and polluting our waters & grounds are things we can all make the decision to avoid.


According to Hawaii Wildlife Fund - a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving Hawaii's native wildlife - here are four ways for visitors and locals alike to be more eco-conscious:


  1. Take the Pono pledge

  2. Protect our waters and aquatic wildlife by selecting a reef-safe sunscreen (physical blockers including titanium dioxide and / or zinc oxide) and using protective clothing or trees for shade instead of chemical products for UV exposure. (FYI: products made for babies are generally safer for us and wildlife!)

  3. Opt out of single-use plastics (#choosetoreuse and bring your own utensils, water bottles, coffee mugs, to-go ware when can!) or dine-in if possible

  4. Volunteer! Find a local group that does beach clean up days and help out in person or via donation.



For a full list of ways to help take care of our islands (geared towards those traveling to Hawaii but applicable to all!) check out this link :)


In the photos below, you see 'opala(trash) submerged under the water's surface. This is garbage that we found at beaches around the Big Island (we were sure to collect and dispose of it all afterwards). While it's saddening to see this much refuse, it's also great to know that many are making efforts to keep our shores thriving and clean.


Now, on to the photos.


Location: Spencer's Beach Park at ʻOhaiʻula Beach

Photographers: James Rubio (primary), Elyse Fujioka (2nd shooter)

Floral designers: Alison Higgins, Shannon Higgins, Kama Duldulao, Nathan Blean, Samantha Holland, Missy Todd, Elyse Fujioka.

Model: Jade Woolford










Behind the scenes...




Find more of James' work HERE

Find more of Elyse's work HERE


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