A West Side photographer captures life from behind the lens
Kuhio Vellalos admits he wasn’t always handy with a camera. As a 12-year-old, he borrowed his mother’s Nikon 35mm SLR, but the effort yielded lackluster results. “It was one roll of film—nothing in focus, nothing exposed right,” Vellalos remembers. “And because I wasn’t good at it, I didn’t try again.”
Luckily, Vellalos did try again later in life—first, to document his travels aboard research vessels in the Pacific and then again when his first son was born. Soon, the Waipahu-based photographer was rarely found without a camera on hand. Now trained as an engineer, Vellalos’ technical mind appreciates the science behind exposure settings and shutter speeds, but it is the rich, fleeting emotive beauty of his island home—especially in and around the water—that compels Vellalos to shoot, and shoot often.
“I gravitate towards candid photos,” Vellalos says of chancing upon a good composition or subject. “I enjoy seeing if I can capture that ‘right’ moment.”