Editor's Page: Good Enough to Eat

This issue has delicious food writing—and equally tasty photography.

Photo: Linny Morris

We always start the year with a look back at the previous year. If your tastes run toward the gourmet, please start with our Hale Aina Awards, in which the readers of HONOLULU Magazine name the best restaurants in Hawaii.

The biggest news? Roy’s has dethroned Alan Wong’s for Restaurant of the Year. Read more about this in executive editor Kathryn Drury Wagner’s feature. The full list of 94 winners is presented in a fold-out section that you can rip out of the magazine and take with you—it should come in handy when you and your dinner mates are wondering, “What do we feel like eating?” 

HONOLULU Magazine’s other annual recap is named for food, but is really about delicious irony. That’s our Sour Poi Awards, in which senior writer Michael Keany pokes fun at the follies, foibles and foolishness of 2009. Overreaching public officials, kooky criminals, peacock homicide, it’s all here for your enjoyment.

Our thanks to Gelareh Khoie, one of the co-owners of the Chinatown lounge and art gallery, Thirtynine Hotel. They opened early one bright, November afternoon to let us have the run of the place as photographer Linny Morris took fresh headshots of the editorial team. You’ll see the results on our regular departments in this issue, such as Editor’s Page and Afterthoughts, and at honolulumagazine.com. It’s a visual age and people seem to like to know what our writers look like.

In hindsight, this was also a good experience for the editorial team. Not a week goes by that we aren’t sending photographers out into the city to shoot the subjects of our articles. We probably take it for granted that people set aside time to pose for photos for us, forgetting how long a great portrait can take, how odd the experience can be if you aren’t accustomed to being posed and art directed, or how intimidating it can be for those who are really nervous around cameras. We got a taste of our own magazine medicine that day, waiting as reflectors were positioned and light readings taken, then following directions to cross, and uncross our arms, stand, sit, look up and to the right, look straight ahead, smile more—more!—then look serious. It was fun and surreal at the same time.

The experience also reminded me how hard professional photographers work. Photography has exploded with the advent of digital cameras, and seemingly everybody is publishing their photography online. (I just clicked over to photography Web site flickr.com and saw that it had received 4,665 uploads in the past minute.) Anyone with a decent camera can push the button, let the auto mode do all the work, and get a good shot.

But the great photos, the kind magazines strive to offer their readers, require the experience and expertise of people who live and breathe photography, who have the technical mastery to light the shot properly and the attention to detail to notice when a hair of the subject is out place, plus the artistic sensitivities to bring out emotion in the shot.

If I started thanking all our photographers by name here, I’d run out of space or forget someone. But maybe this observation will let our photographers know how much we appreciate them: I’ve never seen anything else in this work quite like the burst of excitement that runs through the office when we hear that the photos for a given assignment are in. Our art director, Kristin Lipman, calls us and we practically run to her desk to look at the images. “Ah!” we think. “Now we’ve got a magazine article!”