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Close to You

Mark Arbeit’s photo essay captures the essence of the Islands.

Photography by Mark Arbeit, Captions by Kathryn Drury Wagner

Photographer Mark Arbeit first moved to Hawai‘i at age 16, but spent years working abroad. “I traveled everywhere, Milan, Madagascar. But Hawaii always pulled me back,” he says. Homesick in his Paris studio, he decided to “cover the walls in big pictures of Hawaii because I wanted to be close to the Islands.” The resulting images, some of which are seen here, were taken from 1994 to 2003 with a large format camera, an 8x10 Deardorf. As for Arbeit? He’s since moved back to the Islands to raise his family.

 

The Kahaulelio family—all avid waterwomen who surf and paddle—at Chun’s beach (Dec. 2002).

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

James Kimokeo at a cultural festival at Puukohola Heiau, on the Big Island, in August of 2003. The heiau was constructed by Kamehameha the Great around 1790 and was dedicated to the war deity Kukailimoku.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

 

Taro farmer, Bradford Mockchew tends his Waipio Valley crop (June 2001). 

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

 

Arbeit shot this image, which he calls  leaf, in March 2003 in Palolo Valley, on Oahu.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

 

Beach Falls: “I love that Waipio Valley is cut off from the rest of the world. Everything there seems out of proportion—nature is so huge,” says photographer Arbeit, who took this image in August of 1994.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

 

Rider Caridyn Colburn is about to appear in the Kamehameha Day Parade on Kauai, June 2000.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

 

Black Sand Beach: “I tried to approach landscapes like Ansel Adams, but I am not as patient,” says Arbeit. He admires the compositions of Irving Penn and Helmut Newton, whom he studied under. He notes that he found the rocks like this, on Waipio Valley’s black sand beach in August of 1994.

Photo: Mark Arbeit

 

 

Master woodworker and cultural authority Sam Kahai Kaai was once called by a student “a medium for the old whisper to manifest in today.” He’s shown here with his carving of Kukailimoku, August 2003.  

Photo: Mark Arbeit

These images in this story are from “Hawaiian Series,” by Mark Arbeit. He has a new book of his photography out, called Work. For more images, and for more on Arbeit, visit www.markarbeit.com.