Video by Nella Media Group

A quick overview of Josiah Kekoanui Patterson’s work will leave you noticing his skill at capturing the subdued beauty in the simplest of subjects, always finding just the right angle and perfect lighting, whether he's shooting human subjects, landscapes, or the interaction between the two.

Look at one of his photos a little longer and it's easy to drift off into thought. His photos offer a sense of familiarity, a calming and almost eternal stillness of time and place. It's as if you were there when the shot was taken, and seeing it again brings back a flood of memories, both good and bad.

Those same feelings are evoked in a series of surf photography shot by Siah at Mākaha, the birthplace of big-wave surfing and his family’s home since the 1950s. Located on the west side of O‘ahu, Mākaha is legendary not only for its waves, but for the watermen and women at the heart of this tight-knit community.   

Richard “Buffalo” Keaulana, the “Mayor of Mākaha” and original Hōkūleʻa crewmember, made his name surfing here and founded Buffalo’s Big Board Surfing Classic in 1977. Mākaha was also home to Rell Kapoliokaʻehukai Sunn, the “Queen of Mākaha,” who paddled out nearly everyday for over 40 years and broke ground for women surfers globally. She passed away in 1998, but her memory lives on in the Rell Sunn Educational Fund, a public health foundation. Every spring, the organization holds the Rell Sunn Menehune Surf Contest at Mākaha, a keiki competition launched by Aunty Rell over 40 years ago. 

Rell Sunn, Queen of Mākaha

Siah's surf photos focus on the intricacy of tandem surfing. Although the style developed in the gentler waves of Waikīkī during the beginnings of the beach boys and the tourist boom, the practice has since migrated. In Tandem Surfing, a photo exhibit opening at our store on June 22nd, Siah documents his brother Jordan Makaʻala Nalani Iaea Patterson and sister Keala Patterson on a fun day at Mākaha, showing the more delicate side of surfing, one of acrobatic grace and familial trust.

Available at the opening and during the course of the show will be a limited run of shirts featuring Siah’s images. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Rell Sunn Educational Fund.


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