Family Portraits


by Adrienne Pao


These photographs began quite simply. One day a ways back during a visit to family in Oahu, I asked my Uncle Jeff if I could photograph him and if he would bring his favorite rooster to the shoot. While setting up in the driveway Uncle Jeff came out dressed in Uncle Frank’s traditional hula attire. It was rainy that evening, but all of the family joined in the fun, and this series came to life.

Hawaiian people share a complex history of being subjects for the camera. It is always fascinating to me to consider these portrayals because what I see in my Hawaiian ohana is something completely different.

Searching closets, boxes of clothes, and natural elements found in the yard, we figure out the clothing and then the locale follows. Their choices are unexpected. It’s not everyday that my aunty wears the goddess Pele’s hair (as hina hina) within a banyan tree or my three cousins become the three graces as the sun rises at Makapu’u. Just beneath the surface is a deep connection to mythological Hawai’i and a desire to play with our history.

Photographic Series
10” x 15” Chromogenic Prints - Koa Wood Frames
In Progress, 2009 – present


Interested in Exhibitions or Publications?