What a Long Strange Trip

Willie Nelson at his home in Paia, Maui on August 25, 2009 © Emily Shur

Home sweet home. Fires, 95 degree weather, traffic…I missed you LA. I felt like I was gone for weeks, when in reality it was less than one. The husband and I just returned from Hawaii where he facilitated a show at Charley’s in Maui with Band of Horses and Willie Nelson. Our first stop was Honolulu for a couple days where we had a good time actually. We went to Sunset Beach on the North Shore which was one of the nicest beaches I’ve ever been to…not too crowded with clean, beautiful water. We walked around touristy Waikiki, saw Inglorious Basterds which I highly recommend, and had some fruity drinks. Then, it was off to Maui for some work and play. I’m a huge fan of both Willie Nelson and Band of Horses (who might be the nicest group of guys ever) so I was excited to get the opportunity to photograph both of them. We drove to Willie’s house for his shoot which lasted all of about three minutes. As usual, when photographing legends, there’s a lot of discussion leading up to the actual picture, most of which does nothing but freak me out. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Don’t take too long. Don’t say anything stupid. So, I managed to squeeze out the above shot on the 5D Mark II, as well as about 5-6 frames of 120 with the Mamiya 7, and 2 sheets of 4×5. I’m going to drop off my film today so we’ll see how all that went. I did get a hug from Willie which made everything worthwhile.

I also shot some pictures for myself on the trip…about 12 rolls of 120 that I’m about to bring in for processing. I went into the trip after a few interesting meetings last week which made me think a lot about challenging myself while photographing. Admittedly, I’ve fallen into a predictable pattern with my personal/fine art work. I see potential pictures and think, “Yep, that’s a picture I would take.” These pictures are too easy, and it seems to me that Hawaii might be the epicenter of easy picture taking. I’m not gonna lie; I did take a sunset picture or two. You will find some photos of the ocean and the beach on my contact sheets. However, I did make a conscious effort to not bore myself (and potential viewers) with obvious Emily pictures. I’m not sure if I succeeded. Hawaii is a tough place for a landscape photographer to sway from shooting the majestic and beautiful. So, I did what I could.

2 comments to What a Long Strange Trip

  • Tony Novak-Clifford

    Aloha Emily,

    I'm a big fan of your blog… been been a regular reader for several months now. Wish I had known you were on my rock. I would have loved to meet, talk shop… (I live just up the volcano above Willie's digs). I've got lots of fun Willie stories from several encouters with him over the years.

    Didn't make the show at Charlie's unfortunately, the buzz that day was so strong, I expected it to be a zoo.

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the inspiration you provide. Should you ever find yourself in Maui again, please give a shout-out.

    All the best,


  • ryan schude

    saw it in rolling stone, that was quick, they shoulda run it bigger :)