Pulitzer nominated Jeff Widener has a dark side to his lens: sultry blacks intermingle with translucent whites, ghostly images of reality on the other side of a hotel room door, for most who have only visited Hawaii.
This series of striking photographs is no surprise, coming from globally-known Widener. Engaging, curious, perspetives that flirt with reality but evermore escape into shadow, Widener captures the archipelago of humanity in his Dark Side of Hawaii.
KRISS: How long has The Dark Side of Hawaii been in the making?
WIDENER: The first image in this project is the tattooed surfer man at Point Panic on the Island of Oahu in 2005. There have been long periods between my daily newspaper job where I have not done any shooting at all. Other times, a great many images were taken in a short time.
KRISS: What camera set-up and post processing did you use for the photo of the old man by the car?
WIDENER: This is Richard Marks who is a Hansen's disease (leprosy) survivor living in the former colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. The area is tightly controlled by the state, and I was very fortunate to have made friends with several of the patients. Richard is a huge collector, and he showed me around his home. He stopped in front of this old car in the shade because the sunlight was hurting his eyes. A common problem with the patients. While he rested, I used a Leica M7 camera with a 28mm F/2.0 Summicron lens and Tri-BW film.
KRISS: Are your shots staged, or do they just happen for you in the magic of photography?
WIDENER: Most of my shots are not staged. Some environmental portraits are posed, but I always try to let the subject reveal their own personality.
KRISS: How much of what you exposed in the Dark Side is the norm in Hawaii today?
WIDENER: Everything you see in my Hawaii work is very representative of the State. One of the reasons for doing this book is to show the hidden side of the state which most tourists never see. Most visitors envision palm trees, surf boards, aloha shirts but Hawaii is just like any other state in the union which has all the like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. In some cases it's worse like the drug epidemic. I do not necessarily want to focus on a dark theme but rather a hidden side that reveals the issues and culture of Hawaii. The Good, Bad and Ugly you might say. A truthful look at the islands. In some cases it's worse like the drug epidemic. I do not necessarily want to focus on a dark theme but rather a hidden side that reveals the issues and culture of Hawaii. The Good, Bad and Ugly, you might say. A truthful look at the islands.