Meet O'ahu-Based Photographer Kamehanaokalā Ruiz

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I've been moaning and groaning a lot lately about how stale Instagram has become as a marketing platform for small businesses... because it's true lol. But there still are a few silver linings that keep me motivated to stay active and engaged on that platform, and one is the opportunity it is still bringing our brand to connect with some amazing creatives across the state of Hawai'i. One of them, being Kame Ruiz, an O'ahu-based photographer / mama / entrepreneur who is turning her passion into her everyday gig! When she DMed us asking if we wanted to be a part of this idea she had for a photoshoot I absolutely without a doubt said YES!

Check out a few amazing photos from this shoot she produced and captured and read further to learn more about her journey to becoming a photographer!

NAME: (Kame)hanaokalā Ruiz

HOMETOWN: Kāne’ohe, HI

BUSINESS NAME: Photography by Kame

WEBSITE: www.photographybykame.com

IG: @photographybykame

  1. Tell our readers about yourself! I know.. loaded question lol. Okay, let's start here: What are 3 facts about you that you'd love our readers to know? Aloha everyone! My name is Kamehanaokalā Ruiz, but everyone calls me Kame- so feel free as well! I am a local girl born and raised on the island of O’ahu and I am a 2017 graduate of Kamehameha Schools. I am proud māmā of a four month old little girl and I love spending time with my boyfriend and daughter at the beach! 
  2. How did you get started as a photographer and what made you want to go into art & design? Growing up in Hawai’i, we’re blessed to be surrounded by such beauty and a variety of landscapes. This being said, it’s not hard to pick up your phone and start snapping away and this is exactly how my love for photography started! I was that girl at the beach taking pictures of al her friends LOL and then going home and editing the pictures. I found myself taking pictures of EVERYTHING at that point- waves, the ocean, the mountains, friends, family, you name it, I was taking it! LOL. When I was going to college in Utah I found myself yearning for that missing piece of home…. So I figured why not try taking pictures up here! So that’s what I did, I grabbed my iPhone and went to take pictures of a few friends! And they were shocked just as much as I was that wow, I wasn’t all that bad LOL. Fast forward to the pandemic- I used to be a lū’au dancer for Tihati Productions, but when covid hit we all felt it deeply being that we’re in the tourism industry. With not having work and Hawai’is Unemployment offices not being the best, I found myself in a hardship. One day while walking through Costco I saw a deal on a camera and I said jokingly “yeah let me go be a photographer now hahaha” and my boyfriend told me “why not? You’re out of work and it’s your passion, you should give it a try.” I of course started laughing but then the reality of it kind of kicked in and I thought, hey maybe I could do this! Just for fun! I called my Mom to get a second opinion and she said to go for it as well! One camera purchase later…. and the rest is history.      
  3. What motivated you to come up with the concept and execute this beautiful Dolkii photoshoot? My motivation for this shoot was diversity. Social media portrays what the “perfect” woman should look like, or how long their hair should be or how much they should weigh- but I simply said forget that. Let’s celebrate woman AS THEY ARE. Today and every day. No matter the color of your skin, your age, size, race, height, etc YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. And that’s something that I think todays day and age forgets…. we are so caught up in “fitting in” that we forget the very things that make us STAND OUT. We forget the things that make us unique while trying to be more like “her” or “them”. The point of this shoot is to remind women everywhere that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! In your most raw and true form.
  4. Tell us a little bit about some (or all!) of the women featured in this shoot. We'd love to learn more about them and how you were able to bring together such a powerful group of women for this! The first thing I thought of when trying to choose women is “strength”. I wanted to depict strength with not a single word- just purely based on the confidence they hold and the value they bring to the table. Let’s be honestly, if you have strength and you know your worth, you are truly untouchable. So, I of course went to the first women in my life who depict “strength” to me… My mom and my grandma. These two have been through it all and then some, but their strength has never wavered, their faith has never caved, and their heart has never faded. Growing up I admired these two so much and tried to be more and more like them every day. They have never questioned their worth and never settled for anything less than. Next up, my sisters…. Not all are related by blood, but that couldn’t make us any closer. These girls mean so much to me and are becoming strong women each day. They are each strong in their own way and I admire each of them in their own unique way. 
  5. Who are some of the women you look up to in life? look up to many strong women but I’d have to say the one I look up to the most is my Mom. She has worked every day of her life to instill value in us and raise us to be strong and independent women. I am the woman I am today because of her…. I come from a very strong women family and I grew up with these values that I will instill in my daughter. 
  6. FAVORITE DOLKII ITEM!? How do I choose hahaha. I’d have to say my favorite line is the Wāhine line DUH! I have two of the shirts already and they are soooo amazingly soft!! I have yet to get my hands on one of their sweaters!! That’s my next task (; Love this company and their message and women empowerment they spread is untouchable. 

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