maui sunset

My father has a love obsession with Hawaii. Even though we traveled to Oahu together as a family in 2006 — which is where I got my pendant, and the eventual logo of my business — and saw the beautiful land, smelled the salty ocean, and ate mounds of pineapple, I didn’t really understand it. It’s a gorgeous place, of course, but what makes it so special? How can it hold onto his heart the way it has?

And then I went to Maui. And then I understood.

Travel, for me, isn’t just sightseeing places or eating local foods. It’s more about settling into a different skin and feeling what it might be like to be a different version of myself. If this sounds strange, let me elaborate:

In New York, I wore cute boots, wrapped my hair into a chic sock bun, gnawed on bagels, and took the subway. I missed seeing the sky but the energy of the city hummed through me. (I also had an anxiety attack on a stalled subway line.)

In Japan, I finally understood the joys of legging pants, ate fresh fish and rice for almost all meals, switched to my second tongue, and was surrounded by children.

In the PNW, I walked everywhere — walked more than I have ever walked in my entire life, I think — and felt my mind melding with the many artist-types and photographers I met.

When I’m in Austin, I run a business, I drink Soylent, I go to Pilates, I wear lipstick.

The version of Elissa in Maui was the happiest Elissa I think I’ve known. Relaxed, suntanned, wearing a bathing suit instead of underwear, and having shaved ice as 95% of my diet, I think I could have lived there forever. And Maui is the best of so many worlds: fresh sushi, mountains and beaches, and sunsets like no other.

I can’t wait to go back.

(Photos taken with Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero Silver 4 (affiliate links). I used my sister as the subject in most of these. She took the one portrait of me included in here.) 

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Nadia & Brian | Maui Wedding

maui photographer

A warm, glimmering Maui beach. The rhythmic crashing of the waves. Moody clouds and hot sand on bare feet. Brian watched Nadia walk down the sandy aisle on her father’s arm. Thirteen years of togetherness, and a group of twenty witnessed the two promise each other forever.

If you are friends and family of Nadia and Brian, you can view their Maui wedding and Houston reception galleries here.

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Credits: Tropical Maui Weddings (planner); Fabulous Florals Maui; MeiLi (Hair/MUA); Jamie Lawrence (musician); Kahu Kaalekahi (officiating)

Erin & Matt | Orchard Wedding

destination wedding photographer

Sunflowers in her hair, fierce sun warming his face. Erin and Matt kept their Minnetonka Orchards wedding simple and perfect: friends. family. s’mores.

This happy Minnesota wedding has a warm place in my heart.

If you are friends or family of Erin and Matt, view their gallery of photos here.

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More credits: Mintahoe (catering and cupcakes); With a Twist (bar); Sheri Fischer (hair); Flutter Boutique (dress)