Lianna is my younger sister, so of course I was so excited when we planned her engagement photos! She and her fiancé Lau met while attending college in Hawaii, when introduced by mutual friends. When our family planned a trip to Oahu, it was the perfect opportunity to photograph Lianna and Lau’s engagement photos on the same island where they met!

They knew they wanted tropical and casual photos to fit their laid back personalities. We visited the Laie LDS Temple, Kahana Bay, and Hukilau Beach to get them as many shots as possible. They regularly visited each of these spots while living in Oahu, and they hold special memories for my sister and her fiancé.

To add to the casual and organic feel, I photographed this session entirely on film. Specifically Porta 800 film, one of my favorites.

How Lianna and Lau Included Their Tongan Culture During Their Session

My siblings and I are half tongan, and Lau is full tongan. Lau and Lianna knew they wanted to incorporate our culture into their engagement photos to honor our families. Our dad made a pearl necklace for Lianna to wear, which she paired with a haku lei from our aunty, and a kiekie. Each of these items is special to our heritage, and you can read more about them below.

On her head, my sister wore a haku lei. You may be familiar with the tradition of making and giving leis, which stems from ancient Hawaii. This type of lei, including the word haku “to braid”, is used for ceremonial purposes and as adornment.

In the photos below, you’ll see Lianna also added a kiekie, which is made from tree bark. These belt-like decorations are often worn at formal gatherings to show respect for the occasion and for the others in attendance. Tongan clothes are traditionally woven from plants, or knitted in a similar way.

These special traditions, along with the sentimental setting, made for the perfect engagement session for Lianna and Lau. They were able to enjoy a simple and beautiful day at some of their favorite spots. I loved being able to join them to take their photos.

Plan Your Destination Engagement Photos

If simple and comfortable engagement photos sound like the right fit for you and your fiancé, I would love to be your photographer. As you can see in my other engagement photoshoots, I love fitting the session to your personality.

I also travel often, and love an opportunity to offer a destination engagement session or other lifestyle photos while I am near you, or as you visit a place you love. Especially in a location special to your love story. Or in a place where you can honor your heritage, like in the photos above. 

Click here to learn my upcoming travel schedule, and openings I have available for your engagement photos.


Tropical Destination Engagement Photos in Oahu


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  1. […] for group photos. The Laie Temple is one of my favorite Oahu spots to photograph, as you can see here in another recent […]