Tanya, a 12-year-old who lives at Maili Land Transitional Housing complex, showed a talent for lighting when she picked up a camera for the first time. Her work, like the one above, conveys her love of floral shots. Tanya is among the photography students of Minako Ishii.
Most precious lei
Photography by children at a transitional housing site will help fund a scholarship
Professional photographer Minako Ishii combined her expertise in two fields to contribute to society's youngest members.
A flower photograph by Kayla, another student of Ishii.
Fueled with ideas from by her Master's thesis about how children communicate visually, Ishii employed her experience behind the lens to teach underprivileged children how to shoot pictures. Ishii and financee Rusty Kent peddled her idea to various transitional housing sites before pairing with Maili Land, a complex located in Waianae.
Elijah, 6, captured color, texture and subtle lighting in the nicely composed image.
The couple worked with six students for several months, using cameras donated by Sony, Ishii's former employer, to produce vivid floral shots for a Lei Day theme; the images were exhibited at the downtown First Friday gallery walk May 2.
Six-year-old Bernard shot a lei, above, from the Lei Queen Contest at Ala Moana Beach Park. He loves photography and wakes up at 5 a.m. to await Ishii's lessons.
Kent also turned the photographs into greeting cards, which he and Ishii sell on the Web site www.leifund.org. All proceeds are dedicated to a scholarship fund for youth who reside in transitional housing. The couple is working with the Hawaii Community Foundation to set up the fund. Kent says the fundraising is two-fold: an initial $10,000 establishes a scholarship account; then, a $25,000 balance secures the awarding of $1,000 in scholarships annually.
A shot by 11-year-old Bryson. The youth isn't all too enthralled with florals, but he enjoys his photography lessons immensely.
The numbers may seem daunting, but Kent is optimistic the fund could be set up this year. Perhaps his confidence is boosted by his dedication to the project: Part of the plans for his and Ishii's upcoming wedding celebration is for guests to make a donation to the lei fund rather than bring them gifts. "It's a way for everyone to give back," he says.
A sample of Dwayne's work. The 10-year-old presents textures, light and unique subjects with an artistic flair.
The name of the project itself reflects the couple's commitment of the youngsters they serve.
"We did research on the word 'lei,' " Kent says. "In old Hawaii, a favorite child was nicknamed 'Lei.' So we named our fund the Lei Fund. The kids (we serve) are our Lei, our collective Lei."
Joleen Oshiro, Star-Bulletin