Great Pix, By George!
Wednesday - July 22, 2009
I came to MidWeek in 1987 during a brief stint with the Sun Press, a chain of community newspaper here on Oahu.
I recall one of my first assignments being Hawaii Five-O star James MacArthur. That shoot would set the tone for my nine-year run at Oahu’s most circulated weekly. Our subjects, usually photographed on location, were a steady diet of entertainers, captains of local industry, artists, pillars of the community, and a few movie stars.
When taking on an assignment, usually my first concern was how to shoot the cover shot. On nearly every instance it was done on location in the subjects’surroundings. Many times, when appropriate, studio lighting equipment and an assistant would go along with me. An 8-foot-wide roll of colored backdrop paper would often serve well in place of a much-too-busy background.
Beyond the cover, whenever possible I tried to spend additional time photographing my subjects as they worked at their specialties or just played. I was lucky to spend a couple of days with the late Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. His health was already in decline, but he was clearly still making an effort to be well again. Time spent with him included pool exercise, a rehearsal with Roland Cazimero and a recording session at Mountain Apple.
I became acquainted with many of the artists and entertainers we profiled, and became friends with a few of them. Rarely have I been starstruck, except once. I was waiting nervously for my time with coochie-coochie girl Charo. I guess I was stuttering as I spoke to her in her dressing room as she made small talk with me. It was a completely open scene with her children running in and out of the room and her husband lounging with us, watching a small TV. The publicist, a friend of mine, poked her head through the door and wished me a happy 30th birthday. Charo, still adjusting her big hair, looked up at me in the mirror and wished me happy birthday, and then said if I wanted to have another birthday that I better stop stuttering. That pretty much cured it. Our brief cover session went beautifully!
-George F. Lee
George F. Lee has been employed by the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as a photojournalist for 13 years and currently holds the position of photography editor.
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