My Best Photo

How do you select your best photo? Did you set out on that day and said to yourself “I’m going to take my best photo today?” It’s unlikely.

My best photo was captured on a day I simply chose to wander, I was on holiday in Hawaii back in 2011, we’d spent time at the beach and site seeing across Hawaii’s Oʻahu island, not being an avid sun bather I left my wife at the hotel and took my trusty 5D Mk II and 24-70 L Mk I and headed off to see what I could find away from the beautiful beaches and tourist areas.

On the Ala Wai Promenade I encountered homeless people, every city has them, even in this beautiful paradise, there wasn’t as many as I’d encountered in San Francisco, but it’s sad to see people abandoned by society like this.

Homeless people on Ala Wai Promenade
The Homeless on Ala Wai Promenade

I skirted around the city’s eastern edge, encountering more homeless people as I went, why is it photographers find them so fascinating? Since Don McCullin’s photograph of a homeless man in Liverpool I’ve wondered what makes these people who have so little, give so much to the camera.

Homeless man
More interested in the camera, than the destitute.

Heading back towards the tourist area of Waikiki, where streets are lined with high-rise hotels, catering for every pocket, but mainly those pockets that are fuller than others, I heard the tinny screech of a megaphone, turning into Lili’oukalani Avenue I was confronted with a protest.

The side-walk was lined with people doing a loop, holding placards, I believe that there is a law which would give the police the power to arrest or move them on if they stood still, so they walk in a loop.

Protest Leader
Stronger Together!

A young woman leading the protest was providing an ‘echo’ chant and the crowd was responding. They were protesting about pay, at the Hyatt and the many other hotels on Waikiki, that charge a lot of money for tourists to stay on this beautiful island, but pay their staff a paltry wage.

Here I was essentially an infiltrator, a tourist staying in one of these expensive hotels.

I moved through the protest, taking pictures of the protest leaders and the interesting variety of characters these types of events seem to attract. I took a few more pictures, whilst being ordered by a police officer to stay off the road.

Encouraging the crowd
Addressing the Crowd

Whilst moving through the crowd a man stepped into the fore, passionately chanting, he’s a photographers dream – they’re the type of person you want front and centre in your shots, bags of character. When I took this shot and reviewed it later on my laptop, I was a little disappointed to see that he’s not actually looking down my lens, but at the photographer to my left, however over the years of viewing this shot, the fact he is looking into that camera and I’ve captured the moment of his own protest and enthusiasm, I’ve grown to love it more and more, here is the shot unedited:

My best shot coloured
Protester, Hyatt Regency, Hawaii, 2011

I’ve edited this photo so many times, if I were still on Lightroom I could probably tell you how many times (I moved over to ON1 Photo RAW 2019 a month or so ago, but that’s a story for another time!) I’ve edited it, despite the bright reds of the Hyatt and their t-shirts I try to channel a bit of Don’s favourite film, the Kodak 400 TRI-X, which ON1 Photo Raw does an excellent job of emulating through a pre-loaded preset.

Here is the final edited image, my best shot, taken in 2011 and I’ve not taken as good a shot since!

Hawaii protests
Protester, Hyatt Regency, Hawaii, 2011 (Kodak 400 TRI-X)

I know the black and white treatment can be overused and it may seem like an odd choice given the vibrancy of the original, but I love the way the man ‘pops’ out of the image with the TRI-X.

Thanks for reading and you’re welcome to give your opinion below.

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