• Julie Stevens

Kaua'i Behind The Scenes

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

What happens when two award-winning photographers, five models, two dress designers, one makeup artist, and a faithful assistant/chef extraordinaire come together to shoot on the oldest island of Hawai'i? Creative magic!

Planning a shoot of this magnitude takes months of advanced logistics, and coordinating this many schedules is nothing to shake a stick at. But, when "The Garden Island" of Kaua'i is the projected backdrop, with its volcanic cliffs, pearly beaches, crashing Pacific waves, and tropical flowers not easily found on the mainland, you make it a priority.

kauai beach photo shoot

Photo by Doug Adams

I introduced photographers Randy Hanna and Doug Adams a few years ago in hopes that their similar backgrounds and personalities would blend nicely into a creative working relationship. I witnessed a full-blown "bro-mance". Anytime you observe two genius minds at work, it's best to pay attention. There was no doubt that these consummate professionals would produce images we could all be proud of.

Randy spends most of his days in Africa, Iceland, and Europe capturing breathtaking landscapes and hosting safaris. He is known in Swahili as "the man who walks with elephants". He is a published author & photographer, and possesses numerous awards for his efforts.

Doug has an impeccable eye for fashion and product shots, and his meticulous lighting is something to behold. Top name clients recruit him for his knowledge of composition, model selection, and delivering the imagery that they so admire.

kauai beach photo shoot

Photo by A Model Traveler

Just say the name Kaua'i and it evokes a sigh of contentment, like reminiscing over a long lost lover. I found this to be true on Kaua'i more than any other island in Hawai'i. It's still relatively unspoiled by tourism and allows for a certain ease and repose. This makes it a haven for scouting locations, and the locals welcomed us with open arms and the traditional "shaka".

Once Seattle fashion designers Justin Zachary Bartle and Julie Danforth started furiously constructing masterpieces for this endeavor, efforts were made to pick the perfect models to showcase their work. They have both made names for themselves across the Pacific Northwest and audiences welcome them with open arms during Fashion Week.

Justin's handiwork is immediately recognizable with hours upon hours of hand sewn jewels, sequins, and lace. It's old-hollywood glamour at its finest, and every woman dreams of trying on one of his dresses, if only to take a stroll around his studio. He's young, full of passion, and talented beyond his years.

photo by randy hanna Kauai

Photo by Randy Hanna

Julie's use of color and allure attracts women of all ages. She knows the curves of the body well, and her designs compliment these with a perfectly plunging neckline or tasteful side leg slit. They embody elegance and class, and she knows the importance of highlighting a woman's femininity.

shot by randy hanna kauai

Photo by Randy Hanna

Although our main focus was to highlight these fashioners, we also took advantage of having beautiful women who packed beautiful clothing of their own. Swimsuits and resort wear quickly became a priority once the consistent tropical island rains took a break to deliver the most amazing vistas.

The Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa delivered one of the loveliest backdrops for a day of shooting. Set on Poipu Beach with 50 acres of oceanfront property, lush flora, and endless pools & lagoons, it's a Hawaiian paradise.

grand hyatt kauai photo shoot

Photo by Doug Adams

grand hyatt kauai behind the scenes shoot

Photo by MaryAnn Adams

Another favorite location was the beach at Maha'ulepu. This isolated gem is well worth the jarring dirt road you must endure to her glory. We'd hit the jackpot! So much so, that we decided to shoot here for two full days. It's a windsurfer's dream, and offers a variety of landscapes. The sand dunes, lava tubes, and endless white sand, was an enticing choice for our flowing fabrics.

kauai beach photo shoot

Photo by Doug Adams

Maha'ulepo Heritage Beach Trail also offers a look into this sacred Hawaiian site on a 4-mile roundtrip hike. You'll notice the impressive limestone formations along the coastline and the labyrinth at Momilani Kai. This was a labor of love built by Bob Vloch in honor of his wife. Take a moment to walk its path and meditate on life's gifts as you make your way to the center and back again.

limestone kauai

Photo by A Model Traveler

labyrinth Kauai

Photo by A Model Traveler

Hawai'i is known for its world-famous sunrises and sunsets, so waking up at o'dark-thirty to achieve the perfect photograph was just part of the job. Applying makeup on a sleepy model is nothing new to me, so coffee was always on hand for these occasions. That being said, once the final image appeared, it was worth every lost hour of slumber.

shot by randy hanna kauai

Photo by Randy Hanna

Photo shoots like these don't come around often enough, and when they do, it's an honor to be a part of the visionary process. I was able to lend my skills not only as the makeup & hair stylist, but a model as well.

botanical gardens kauai

Photo by Doug Adams

Much obliged Kaua'i for granting us access to your heavenly isle. Some of our crew experienced you for the first time, while others fell in love with you all over again. Aloha!

grand hyatt kauai flowers

Photo by A Model Traveler

A Model Traveler YouTube Channel

Randy Hanna Photography

Doug Adams Studio

Julie Stevens - Actor & Model

Justin Zachary Bartle Fashion Designs

Julie Danforth Fashion Designs

Grand Hyatt Resort & Spa Kauai


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