Wish you were here

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Having a nice time. Wish you were here.

Back when people on vacation sent postcards, you could almost guarantee that some version of this message would be penned on the back. On the front, a glossy image of a city skyline, an iconic landmark, or a beach, perhaps a sunset. Romantic visions of faraway places. The typical travel cliches.

The cliches are all around in Hawaii, but it’s no theme park, so too are indicators of social discord.

Sleeping homeless bodies strewn along Waikiki’s luxuriant beach parks. Armed robberies and assaults reported in the local paper. Labor disputes and demands for a living wage in the hospitality industry. Indigenous protests against construction projects. Then there’s the rampant tourism. Mainland Americans in particular make good use of their youngest state, while Japanese visitors seem to consider it an extension of their own island archipelago.

But it’s the romantic visions we aspire to when we travel: the exoticism of a distant land and culture; the romance of following in the footsteps of earlier explorers, artists and writers; the beauty of all those visual cliches.

This glimpse of paradise is what I was looking for when shooting images of the place. Hawaii. Cliches everywhere you look—and frankly, who cares. When all is said and done…

Having a nice time. Wish you were here.

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