In the Mix: Call him a ‘Soul Shooter’

Jul. 19, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Haleiwa Bridge at night. (Courtesy Mike Krzywonski)

The Haleiwa Bridge at night. (Courtesy Mike Krzywonski)


Photographers can be just like surfers sometimes.

There’s the brash, in-your-face type, out for glory and starved for attention. Most shooters, on the other hand, are folks who love what they do and take the time to work hard and continue to improve their skills.

2013 Hale’iwa Arts Festival

» Where: Hale’iwa Beach Park
» When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21
» Cost: Free
» Info:

Saturday, July 20

» 10 a.m.: Celtic Pipes & Drums of Hawaii
» 11 a.m.: Josh Sharp
» Noon: Jungle Rocket
» 1 p.m.: Kalei Gamiao & Friends
» 2 p.m.: Fya Tree
» 3 p.m.: Discord and Rye
» 4 p.m.: Na Wahine O ka Hula Mai ka Pu’uwai
» 5 p.m.: North Shore Ramblers

Sunday, July 21

» 10 a.m.: Johnny Helm
» 11 a.m.: Random Weirdos
» Noon: Paradise X’s
» 1 p.m.: Band of The Pacific-Hawaii, Papana
» 2 p.m.: Nick Andrade
» 3 p.m.: Castle H.S. Performing Arts Center & Castle Dance Force
» 4 p.m.: Alika Bajo

But there’s also the cerebral, soulful type; someone who not only respects and excels at the technical aspects of their chosen profession, but is also cognizant of the artistic side of things. Instead of chasing the money, sometimes they’d rather explore the creative possibilities available to them.

After a brief chat with North Shore-based photographer Mike Krzywonski, it appears he’s that third type. Call him a Soul Shooter. He’s one of approximately 130 juried visual artists scheduled to participate in the 16th annual Hale’iwa Arts Festival on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, at Hale’iwa Beach Park in historic Hale’iwa Town.

Krzywonski, 41, moved to Hawaii from Texas after high school, following in an older sister’s footsteps and hungry to hit Oahu’s famous North Shore surf lineups.

“I visited twice (before moving),” he said. “After the first visit, I pretty much knew I wanted to be here.”

Photography started out as a hobby for Krzywonski in the 1990’s, but he slowly began to take it more seriously, even traveling to other states in search of locations to explore his artistic abilities.

“I’ve been taking photos of storms and severe weather for about 13 years,” he explained. “I’ve photographed lighting storms in Florida and Arizona, and ever since 2007 I’ve gone every year to the midwest to chase storms.

“The thing that appeals to me, obviously from a photography perspective, is the storms are very photogenic. The storms produce jaw-dropping storm structure. When you get some colors from the sunsets in there, it’s surreal. In addition to that, I really enjoy the power. The culmination of the beauty and the power of the storms is what really does it for me. … Tornado Alley gets the most destructive tornadoes in the world.”

A 2010 tornado in Colorado. (Courtesy Mike Krzywonski)

A 2010 tornado in Colorado. (Courtesy Mike Krzywonski)

In all, Krzywonski has chased storms in 17 states during his trips to the mainland. With each passing storm season, he gains valuable experience on how to get the shots he needs while maintaining a level of safety necessary to keep his family happy.

“Storm chasing is dangerous, but there are also a lot of misconceptions,” he said. “People think you just drive blindly into a storm, and that’s not the case. If you have the experience and the tools, you can avoid the most dangerous parts of the storm. You always want to stay one step ahead of the game.”

And while getting almost too close to a dangerous storm makes for more exciting video footage, it’s not necessarily the best choice for a still shooter.

“You tend to get better photos when you’re at a greater distance,” said Krzywonski. “If you’re super close to a storm or a tornado, you don’t get the full structure or view of the storm. So closer is not always better.”

When he’s at home in Hawaii, surf and nature photography comes easy for Krzywonski, who also enjoys taking his camera out after dark to explore Oahu.

“I like reflections on the water at night,” he said. “Whether it’s the city lights or moonlight … I’ll experiment with sunrises and sunsets, prolonged exposures. All kinds of things.”
Jason Genegabus is Entertainment Editor/Online at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and has covered the local nightlife, music, bar and entertainment scenes since 2001. Contact him via email at and follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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