SOULÉ FAMILY / POLIHALE BEACH, KAUAI

It was my first time in Kauai.

I was out there with to photograph a wedding. My partner Joanne had found out from her nephew about an amazing shave ice spot in Kalaheo called The Fresh Shave. After my day of work was done and play began, Joanne and I made it a point to visit, try it out, and connect with Priscilla and Daniel. They didn’t disappoint. Upon meeting the two, they welcomed us with open arms and we immediately felt like family. They took care of us and in return, I wanted to take care of them.

Priscilla and Daniel love Polihale Beach, a beach that the family frequently visited which is on the west side of Kauai where the Napali Coast begins. We set aside an afternoon to adventure with them, to witness the dynamic as loving parents to their two boys, and for me to do some storytelling with my camera.

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We met them at their house and were greeted by the little ones, doing what they do best, being silly and rambunctious as boys typically are. They packed up in our truck, loaded in, and we were off. We headed west where we would find ourselves on Lower Saki Mana Road, a 20 minute drive north on a dirt that would lead to one of the most gorgeous beaches I ever set foot on. Daniel and I were already in the bed of our white Nissan Frontier rental truck, Joanne and Priscilla up front with the boys, and the trek began. I remember that bumpy ride, laughing with Daniel and the family in the back over conversation through the tiny window into the cab.

We got closer and closer to the beach, the dirt road began to turn into sand. Daniel assured us it was safe to bring the truck on the beach, as long as it was driven in the tracks left by the other trucks — trucks that were lifted and fitted with tires specifically for that. We were in a rental and while our truck did offer some 4x4 capabilities, it wasn’t the best truck to bring. Trying to communicate through that tiny window was difficult with the wind blowing, the bumpy ride, and the noise of the engine — even with us yelling. I remember Joanne yelling, “What do you want me to do?!” and as Daniel yelled back at her, “Whatever you do, don’t go up that hill and don’t stop!” — the truck went outside the tracks and up a tiny sand dune. The truck was stuck.

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OMFG.

I thought our afternoon was going to be spent digging out sand from underneath the tires. Luckily there were a handful of locals out there with their well equipped trucks — I saw a few of the trucks pushing 25-35mph in the sand, tires deflated to get the most traction out of them. Daniel waved down a group, who happened to be out there for the day, Hawaiian pidgin so thick I could barely understand them. We traded cold Pacific’o beers for their help. They helped deflate our tires to a reasonable PSI and pushed the truck out from where it got stuck.

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And just like that our adventure to Polihale resumed as if the truck didn’t get stuck at all. The afternoon was filled with drinking beers, eating poké, and plate lunch we picked up on the way.

I was a witness to the strong bond the boys had with each other, and the bond they shared with their parents.

I was a witness to the two connecting with their father playfully, with moments of tenderness with their mother, before the playfulness came out with her.

I was a witness the two playing with empty bottles of beer that Daniel and I finished and witnessed the trust they had in him as they played a game where they stood completely still as their father leapt over their heads.

I was a witness to the love their youngest had for their mother, safe in her arms as she walked through the water crashing on to the shore.

I was a witness to the love Priscilla and Daniel had for each other as they watched their boys running around the beach covered in sand in places the sun doesn’t shine.

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They playfully chased me, and I playfully chased them, exchanging roars as if they were my own. A lot of energy was spent but worth every ounce of it.

The sun began to slowly set on the horizon, the sky turning from oranges, reds and pinks, and eventually to a cool calming blue. I used that moment in transition to allow them to be together and photographed from a distance.

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We packed it up, and set out for the hour long ride back home. The boys naturally fell asleep in the truck after a long day in the beach. I sat in the bed of the truck with Daniel again as dusk turned to night. We made it back to their hometown of Kalaheo and my heart was filled with so much joy.

Their family has since grown with an addition of a beautiful little girl, and I can’t wait for another opportunity to photograph the Soulé’s again.

I was a witness to their love. I was a witness to their family.

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