Photo Essay: Documenting Old Hawaii with Fujifilm GFX 50R

Necklaces Galore - Honolulu, Hawaii

Necklaces Galore – Honolulu, Hawaii

Less than a decade ago, countless small vendors like these sold their wares throughout Waikiki. They centered around the International Market Place, a well-worn, tourist-friendly taste of old Hawaii. I’m guessing that up to a hundred of these carts sold all manner of trinkets, baubles, and souvenirs. Now, just a small fraction remain. All sandwiched in an alleyway between new development.

I set out to document these dying vendors with the Fujifilm GFX 50R, street photography style. At night, of course, because it creates a more lively night-market vibe. The f2 aperture from the adapted Canon lens made candid night photography easier than expected.

Beads of all Kinds - Honolulu, Hawaii
Ukuleles and More - Honolulu, Hawaii
Figurines - Honolulu, Hawaii

Most vendors weren’t selling anything of earth-shaking value or quality. And, maybe they were the victims of the move to a fancier, more upscale Waikiki. However, there is a loss. A loss of livelihoods for small mom-and-pop businesses. Their loss and replacement by big retail is more homogenization of places worldwide.

Woodcraft - Honolulu, Hawaii
Briads Henna - Honolulu, Hawaii

The remaining sliver of property housing these carts had open, unoccupied spaces. The fallout from the Pandemic? I wonder in time if any of these places will be left?

The transformed, upscale International Market Place mall seems tired too. Just a few years after it opened. We’ll see over time if the once exclusive boutiques devolve into souvenir shops and nail salons. Maybe it’s just the heavy hand of COVID dampening spirits. But the relentless judge of capitalism can cut both ways. In the end, Mr. Marketplace decides one way or the other.

Moo Moos - Honolulu, Hawaii
Dog Clothes - Honolulu, Hawaii

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