Sessions: Mareike [moana/azul] – Part 3

Sessions: Mareike [moana/azul] – Part 3

Part 3 of the session with Mareike.

[ moana / azul ]

Snapped these on the same morning as part 1 and part 2 of this session, using Mareike’s Canon G12 camera and underwater housing. It was such a dream to shoot Mareike in this setting… the beach is our home. I think I met her for the first time at this very beach. I’d been meaning to take her photos for the longest time, so for it to finally happen makes me so happy. And the photos came out awesome too! She actually gifted me with the camera that I used for this shoot, and I feel so lucky to have a friend like her in my life.

Sessions: Mareike (island style) – Part 2

Sessions: Mareike (island style) – Part 2

Part 2 of the sunrise session with Mareike.

This beautiful woman is a scientist. Her love for the ocean has taken her all over the world, drifting to American Samoa about 5 years ago. She is art–she embraces the ink of the islands etched on her skin to tell her story. Since we’ve met, we’ve gone on many adventures, shared many conversations, and laughed and danced together more times than I can even remember. She has become a neighbor and a friend, and I’m stoked to capture her essence on this beautiful morning just as the sun kisses the ocean and we thrive on another beautiful day in the islands.

There were SO MANY shots that I absolutely loved from this session, so here’s a good chunk of it.

Sessions: Georgia and Mareike at sunrise

Sessions: Georgia and Mareike at sunrise

Part 1 of a sunrise session with these two beautiful women, flat mates, and friends

Georgia and Mareike

This shoot was actually on Mareike’s last month in American Samoa. We woke up super early, before the sunrise, and met up by the beach in front of our houses. It didn’t seem like it was going to be a good sunrise at first, but we shot anyways, and something like an hour later, the sun shone magnificently, sending light flickering on the ocean’s ripples. I had Georgia and Mareike take turns doing portraits and shot them together too, so here’s just a few of them. I love all of these!

SESSIONS: Kate & Taylor / Sunrise besties

SESSIONS: Kate & Taylor / Sunrise besties

Life is better with friends.



What are your friendships like?

This one is silly, loving, and adventurous!



This session was from a few weekends ago…

Early 6am wakeup call to capture the friendship of these two dedicated teachers turned island sisters. We were greeted by warm sunbeams and a cool zephyr. Playing music on an iPhone. Dancing on the beach. Making silly faces. Reenacting my proposal from just a couple days ago. Laughing a lot. Climbing coconut trees. Falling off of coconut trees. Laying in the grass. Laughing some more.

I’ve gotten to know these beautiful women over the years, and they’ve been nothing but sweetness and kindness. Kate and Taylor are true gems, and I had so much shooting these with them.

Sessions: Monica and Setefano

Sessions: Monica and Setefano

A memorable photo session with Monica and Setefano for their senior prom.

This was my first ‘official’ shoot with my new camera–a Sony A7III (I’ve named it “Three”!)–and I was so nervous because I still wasn’t fully accustomed to the Sony system after switching from Canon. I’m still getting the hang of it. But I love love loved how all the photos turned out! Monica and Setefano were dressed to the nines and should have automatically been voted cutest couple and prom king and queen! Monica was absolutely stunning in her perfectly paired outfit and accessories, and Setefano was slick and cool in his complementing maroon two piece suit. I shot and directed for a little over an hour while we swayed to the music blaring from my little  speakers, and we created some magic and called it a wrap as the sun fully set behind us.

Thanks to Charmaine, for asking me to capture these special moments, and to Aunty Ula and the fam for your fun and positive energy.


SESSIONS: The Trautz Are Expecting!

SESSIONS: The Trautz Are Expecting!

An impromptu mini session with
Ko’olina & Randy Trautz (+1)

This good looking duo came back to American Samoa for 2 weeks to celebrate their one year together as Mr. & Mrs. They showed up unannounced at my office last week, which made me scream with joy, and Ko’olina pointed down at her belly for an even bigger surprise – her darling little baby bump! This will be Ko’olina and Randy’s first lil’ baby mango, and I am so thrilled for them both. I’ve known Ko’olina pretty much my whole life since she and my older sister met at kindergarten and we all basically grew up together. Now she’ll have a kid of her own and I already know he/she is gonna be so so so cute, and that Ko’olina and Randy are going to be awesome parents.

Aunty Files: Isaac Turns 4

Aunty Files: Isaac Turns 4

My nephew’s at the age where he’s really excited for his birthday. He was so excited when I visited, the first thing he said to me was “Aunty Relly! It’s almost my birthday!”

Grandma Elaine and Grandpa Noni had just flown into town and we waited until almost midnight to sing happy birthday to him. His birthday party wasn’t until the weekend and my parents were going to miss the party, so my sister baked some homemade cookie butter cupcakes so our whole family could be together to celebrate his actual birthday. He was so ecstatic – he sang the happy birthday song with us and blew out his candles with a big smile.

26th. Always Grateful.

26th. Always Grateful.

Before today ends, I just want to share how incredibly grateful I am for these 26 years of living. From the sweet treats by my coworkers, to scuba diving a new site and getting buzzed by a turtle, hammocking on the beach with friends, listening to live music, getting gifted with pearls, a donation to my fave nonprofit, and the adventure fund, and a super rad Earth Day Everyday shirt from Ian (and designed by his talented coworker Valentine), all the back rubs and TLC from my main squeeze, ahhh and eating way too much good food… This weekend has been absolutely exceptional!

Plus, we officially booked our Puerto Rico leg of our May trip and got confirmation from our great friends that they’ll be meeting us there!! I’m thrilled for a new year of growth, learnings, and adventures!

Photo credit: Ian M – My boo, my babe. The best boyfriend and support system in the whole dang world. I’m blessed to have such a cutie pizzle. ❤️

SESSIONS: Cummings Family

SESSIONS: Cummings Family

Who doesn’t love cute family photos? I haven’t done a family session in a while, so I was excited to get a request from Faafua for to take photos of her beautiful family, as a Christmas gift for her husband Joey.

We met up at Sliding Rock just after 5pm last Saturday and the sun was still about 10 degrees from falling below the horizon. It was a quick session filled with smiles and giggles as baby Alava would run around and stick her toes in the little tide pools.

One of my favorite bits of this session was taking photos of their oldest daughter Tia. She is a beautiful young girl and adorably shy in front of the camera. I asked her to smile and she gave a timid grin. So the awesome father that Joey is, he jumped beside her, and wrapped the garland around him to mimic her pose with silly faces. Her eyes lit up and her smile brightened as I clicked away and LOL’d with Fua at the hilarious scene.


I love the genuine interaction when families get together, and seeing their expressions and their body language when I’m not asking them to pose – those are the moments I love to capture.


And just before sunset, I snapped a few photos of the beautiful and strong Faafua. She’s one of those cool moms who loves her family fiercely and unconditionally. And she’s a heck of a baker too! Thank you Fua for allowing me to be a part of this special memory. Your family is so blessed to have you.

MEET Amélie

MEET Amélie

We all wonder and wander in our own little way. Everybody’s got a story to tell. If you want to have a chat, I’d love to MEET you!

Meet Amélie

A curious French girl with a passion for the sea. Amelié lived in American Samoa for the last 5 months, and she shares some of her #islandlife experience, and her favorite parts of living in American Samoa.

Tell me about yourself, where you’re from, what do you do?

I’m Amélie Tagliaferro. I come from Marseille, a city in the south of France. I just turned 22 years old. I’m still in school, studying at an agriculture and environment engineering school. I picked this internship [with the National Park of American Samoa], which was awesome because I wanted to specialize in marine biology. I also want to work in the national park but in France. I love fish, and that’s about it!

How did you find yourself in American Samoa?

I knew about [this internship] through Lydia Begue who was a previous student with my school, and she interned here also. I was looking for marine biology programs in a national park, and asked Tim Clark (the former NPS Marine Ecologist), and he was like “Ok! Come!” and then he left. And I’m still here.

Describe yourself in 3 words

Funny. Respectful. Curious.

Describe your experience in 3 words

Peaceful/Relax/Chill. I’m less stressed than before.

Adventure. I found myself here. I know I want to work in this kind of ambiance, because I was in the ocean all the time! Which I loved.

Amazing. It’s the sum up of all my experiences.

What is your favorite spot in American Samoa?

Tafeu Cove!

The coral and the fish there! It’s a nice beach with a little waterfall. And the coral is just really really cool! They have giant clams, they have fish… And you can only get there with a boat because it’s pretty isolated and remote so that’s all very cool.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Long term goals?

I wanna live on an island. In the Pacific Ocean – that’s my first choice.

I don’t know if it will be in 10 years. I may be back in France, but near the ocean or near the sea, but not like a lake. Only in an ocean or sea. And tropical, or at least temperate.

Favorite kind of music?

I like chill music. The Good Vibes playlist on Spotify. Indie music… It’s totally the mood here.

Favorite beach?

So many! Fagatele Marine Sanctuary. Sailele beach. Larson’s Cove.

Favorite place to eat in American Samoa?

I love the Turkey Deluxe from Yahweh Cafe. Maybe I was really hungry… that could explain why. But it was really really good!

What’s your spirit animal?

I love all of them! It’s pretty difficult to find just one. I mean here, with my name, they called me Malie at first… so I could say sharks. But I also love turtles, and octopus, and dolphins, and whales, and moray eels, and clown fish, pipe fish, sting rays! Basically everything.

But I don’t like barracuda! I don’t know, they have a strange angry face. I don’t like those.

Speaking of sharks, how many times have you seen a shark while swimming?

Three times while snorkeling, and two baby sharks like 2 days ago.

Name one thing that you’ve learned from your time in American Samoa

Don’t drink the water!! Haha… Don’t drink the water from the sink! I did it a bunch of times, and it’s really bad. I just keep forgetting like, when I’m showering.

Yeah, it’s really bad. I got sick. It’s not usual because in France you can totally drink [the water]. Like, you’re in the shower and you can drink all the water. You can ask for a glass of water in any restaurant and they just give it to you and it’s free because it’s just from the tap.

What is your life motto?

It’s not a slogan but I think this one is so funny… it goes: I whale always love you.

But my real answer would be:

Enjoy every moment. No regrets! Follow your feelings.

Follow Amelié’s adventures on Instagram: @ameliemelofish


Meet more cool people

Sessions: The Lelauti Family

Sessions: The Lelauti Family

Monique is a Coconut Point OG. I’ve known Monique since high school, and I think the last time we saw each other was our high school graduation day. We were both considered “cool nerds” and graduated co-valedictorian. We left the island right after for college in the states. Fast forward seven years later… now Monique is married to her high school sweetheart Pae, and have two adorable little boys, with a baby girl on the way! Pae is in the military so they’ve had to move a lot (they’re currently on the move again to Alaska), but are back on island for a couple of weeks to be with family after Monique’s grandmother’s passing. As for the kids, they love “Papa’s beach” and gladly cooperated on our session once their feet touched the sand. It was a bit of a last minute thing, but I knew I wanted to take Monique’s family photos before she left. We didn’t plan out any specific details, except the location of course had to be at her family’s beach at Coconut Point. It’s an awesome spot. It was a little overcast, but otherwise a beautiful day for photos at the beach. Here are some of my favorite photos from our session.
Since 2005. I know such a moepi lol but oh well, when God blesses you better answer 😉 The first time my dad let me go bike riding in front of the village, this guy lured me with his shyness. First date at Bruno’s circus. First kiss at June’s store 🙈. And lots of sneaking behind my dad’s back 😬 love you dad. Broke his heart more than once during our dating days, yet he always remained faithful the one from the start. I was undeserving of his love and have done some things God and I are not proud of, but I’ve prayed long and hard for His mercy upon my life. It wasn’t until after I got a taste of my own karma when He finally decided to answer. Not with someone else, but another chance, a fresh new start with the very first guy I fell in love with. It was in 2011… when we thought we were better off on our own separate ways, we met up again in Hawaii. I was visiting family on college break and he was there for a rugby trip. What seemed to have completely fallen apart, fell right back in place at that moment. We were inseparable ever since. Our love grew stronger than ever… had Abelson, got married (2013), Pae joined the military, I graduated from college, and now enjoying life with our babies. We couldn’t be any happier 💕 And we owe it all to our good Lord. Ps. I share this in hopes at least one can take a lesson or two from this perfectly imperfect journey of ours… here’s to love 💕
Monique Lelauti

Abelson Paepaeoali’i Lelauti

Our firstborn. My little Cougar. Abelson was born in Pullman, WA, when I was a senior at WSU. He is our happy child. The comedian of the family. Lover of animals and everything- Cars, Dinotrux, & PJ Masks, to name a few. Bold, daring, adventurous, very hyper, picky-eater, fia fa’ali’i at times. With a lot of learning to do. His first name is a combination of my father, Apelu, and my only brother, Emerson’s names. And to my surprise, one of the main buildings where I used to take classes when I was pregnant with him, is named Abelson as well. Middle name after his dad and uncle from his Lavata’i side. Now 4 years old and is an amazing big brother to Tau and a daddy’s boy to the fullest! 😏 He is impatiently awaiting the arrival of his baby sister “Mia” (idek where he got that name from 🤣 and trust, that will not be her name 😆). He’s even gone through tutorials on how to carry baby sister 101 haha He lights up our day with the silly things he does/says. Definitely takes after his dad. We love you, Abelson. May God bless and guide you in all the days of your life!

Monique Lelauti

Ali’itau IronMike Lelauti

Our second baby boy. My VBAC baby. Baby Maui lol. Tau was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, our very first military duty station. Lord knew Abelson was annoying to other kids so He blessed him with Tau. 😂 Following my emergency c-section with Abelson, to be honest, I was scared to have another child, but God’s blessing through Tau I held on to my faith and finally got to experience the gift of natural birth. Tau is named after Pae’s brother’s son Tau, Toa’s twin brother, whom our Lord called at birth. (RIL Tau💝). We gave him the middle name, IronMike, as a reminder of his birthplace (Home of the Airborne and Special Forces) as well as his father’s service to our country as a paratrooper. Tau is different from Abelson in many ways. He looooves food, is always serious, very cranky, and has selective hearing haha! But nonetheless, he is truly a blessing! And we love everything about him. God bless you my precious little boy!

Monique Lelauti

Nerelle Que you truly have eyes for photography, thank you for the maternity shots. They all turned out beautiful! If anyone’s looking for a professional shoot of any kind, I highly recommend my talented friend Nerelle Que! She’s so much fun to work with and will not disappoint.

-Monique Lelauti

SESSIONS: Baby Jones and Family

SESSIONS: Baby Jones and Family


Only 3 days after my last shoot with JereMia, Mia gave birth!!

She was 3 weeks early; no complications. She was just eating pizza one night at a friend’s house, and when she got home her contractions went off like crazy, so she went to the hospital and gave birth that night!

His name is Jones, and he is a cutie pie!

I got to meet their little guy just a few days after he was born. After several hours of cooing over the little guy in between meal breaks, we discussed photos.

Mia’s parents were visiting soon so it would be a family shoot, and Jeremy reminded us of an idea we played with to put baby Jones in their large `ava bowl.


My best friend Gabby helped me out with the shoot, and thank God, because I actually only had my 50mm (which if you didn’t know, can only shoot in manual AND the focus ring is wonky and will sometimes get stuck) and I was having a lighting problem because we planned to take photos in front of their house again, but it was overcast and made them look completely washed out. So Gabby came to the rescue with a 24mm and an external lighting source (she worked lights on actual sets in Hawaii) that immensely helped.

Mia’s parents remind me of my parents, her dad always wants to carry the baby and her mom is always thinking of the baby’s safety and comfort. Baby Jones was such a great little model, and I had a fun time shooting with the Comeros family.