Meet Liz | The Ola Collective Photographers
Meet Liz, photographer and lover of coffee, people, and mountains! Liz holds a degree in Education and English, and utilizes her background as a former teacher to engage children and capture authentic family moments. Liz founded Ola Collective in partnership with the Four Seasons Oahu as a way to help capture special family memories together in Ko Olina.
First of all, can you tell us a little about your background and where you’re from?
Well, I’m Irish/Italian, which I like to blame for my tendency to talk fast, but let’s be honest, it probably has more to do with growing up in a family of nine where you have to talk fast if you want to be heard! I spent most of my life growing up on a farm in Michigan, and then moved to Hawaii for my first job as a Special Education teacher on the island of Oahu. I soon realized life in a classroom wasn’t a good fit for my ADHD personality, but the location was, and seven years later I’m still finding new things to appreciate about this special place.
How did you get started in photography?
My father loved photography so growing up we used to have long annual family photo sessions with a tripod on a remote country road. He gave me with my first lessons in photography and a film camera of my own when I was quite young. After I left my first job in teaching, I started to immerse myself more seriously in my photography studies, and found some great photographers who mentored me and let me assist them. I’m very grateful for their time, and now I love mentoring and passing on the same things they taught me.
What are some of your favorite things to photograph, and why?
I especially love capturing documentary-style moments that show real, true life moments and emotions. I have worked as a freelance photojournalist, and I love bringing this to my portrait sessions, whether it’s prompting natural interactions between family members or capturing those quiet “in-between” moments.
What is your biggest motivation and inspiration to keep taking photos?
After my father passed away, I spent hours looking through all the photos he had captured of our childhood, and I realized that only a fraction of those photos were with him, since he was always the one behind the camera. In that moment, I realized just how important photographs are, because after that moment is gone, a photograph is often all you are left with to help remember it. For me, this really inspires me to give others the same gift he left me, and to create photos that people will truly love and cherish for a lifetime and beyond.
Can you tell us about one of your favorite adventures?
I love spending time in the mountains! Once, I spent a week hiking the Ko’olau Summit Ridge from the north shore in Pupukea straight through to the east side at Makapu’u, using only what I had packed, and gathering my water from the mountains. This experience really taught me to appreciate just how much we rely on nature. There’s something so special about these mountains, every time I get to spend time up there I learn something new and am left with a sense of wonder.