Adam Taylor Problem Solves His Way Through A Tricky Shoot on Oahu’s North Shore

Adam Taylor Problem Solves His Way Through A Tricky Shoot on Oahu’s North Shore

Project of the Week

Today’s featured project is a beautiful lesson in persistence, and your teacher is architectural photographer Adam Taylor. Adam is based in Hawaii and you probably know him as the man behind the “License Your Photos” course. One of his recent shoots, Haleiwa House by Peter Vincent Architects & J. Martin Builders was a test of his ability to problem solve through winning clients, messy scheduling logistics, uncooperative weather, and an ultra-tight turnaround time, as the shoot was teed up to be the cover story for in a local magazine.

There was a lot to juggle here, and not only did Adam nail it, but he was happy to share a look into the entire process with us.

Haleiwa House sits on the famous North Shore of Oahu, where the massive waves draw in professional surfers from all over the globe each winter. Adam makes a cameo in this shot, helping relay this surf-centric location.

“This project took me on a wild ride,” says Adam. “This was my first time working with these two clients. More than a year ago I had a meeting with the architect’s marketing person, but unfortunately was never hired. 

But after staying consistent with (almost) weekly email blasts, she replied to one of my campaigns with a request to shoot this project—but the catch was that we were on a tight timeline.

The builder had plans to submit the project to Hawaii Home & Remodeling Magazine as a cover story and only had about a week before images were due. The publication is distributed for free all around the islands and is based on an advertorial model—meaning you pay advertising rates to get your project featured.”

He continues, “I was able to fit them in my schedule, but the original day we planned to shoot didn’t work out. There were still people staying in the home after a big wedding was held there, and it was rainy and gloomy, so we treated that day as a scout to pick out the compositions we planned to shoot.

We arranged to go back to the property two days later, but the weather app showed clouds for the rest of the week, so we were nervous leading up to the shoot. I know bad weather can make great photos (Is that a Mike Kelley quote?), but I don’t think it needs much explanation that photos of a beachfront property in Hawaii must have beautiful weather to convey that tropical paradise lifestyle.”

Paradise lifestyle indeed!

“The big day came, and call time was just before dawn, but unfortunately luck wasn’t on our side in the morning. What would have been sunrise golden hour never happened, and the first few shots of the day were all taken while painstakingly…I mean…patiently waiting for clouds to part just long enough to hit “Capture” on the CamRanger a few times,” he says.

For someone dealing with temperamental weather, Adam really capitalized on those moments when the clouds broke. We get a beautiful directional light that sweeps over this open kitchen and dining space. The highlights and shadows in this scene add a lot of visual interest and give a cheery sense of warmth. We are able to pick up on the textures and subtle colors here that add a great deal of character to the space.

Look at those dreamy shadows!

Adam goes on, “Thankfully by about 10 a.m., the sky was mostly clear, and we had gorgeous weather for the rest of the day. There were a few images we shot with boring, mid-day light because we didn’t want to risk the clouds rolling back in and shutting down plans for the nice evening light we envisioned. But luck swung back in our direction in the afternoon with plenty of time to reshoot a few compositions and improve the light quality coming into the home.”

I really appreciate how Adam took the time to make this gif of the folding accordion doors in this bedroom. Seeing their functionality is a nice treat, and I love the way it really emphasizes the view when they are open!

Time for a story! Adam tells, “The final image of the day was supposed to be the hero shot of the whole shoot—a twilight of the front of the house. But the twist here was that I had to get a ladder and climb on the small and slippery wooden-shingled roof of the gated entryway to get the right composition. 

If we shot from the ground level, we wouldn’t be high enough to see through the house to the pool and ocean. And if we shot in front of the roof, we’d be too close to the house and wouldn’t see enough of the sides. So on to the rooftop I went. 

As I was up there it started to drizzle—and in Hawaii, where there’s rain, there’s usually a rainbow. I was standing on this awkward roof, shirt off my back, using it to cover the 17mm lens from the drizzle, and behind me, a full rainbow arched across the sky. It was as if Mother Nature wanted to cap off the shoot with something magical just to remind us to stay grounded and grateful. 

Admittedly I was up on the roof much too early for a twilight shot. But I had my reasons. For one, I didn’t want to feel rushed getting set up with the sketchy situation on the roof. Secondly, all our other shots were done, so we were just waiting around for the sun to set anyway. And finally, if the sunset wasn’t epic, or the twilight didn’t look as we had predicted, I wanted to make sure I had something of the front of the house that we could use.

Well, it was a damn good thing I was up on that roof early because just as my client was going around the house turning on all the lights, the power went out! This meant the fire was off on the torches, the water fountains stopped flowing, and the house that was supposed to glow stayed dark. 

Thankfully I already had the exposures needed to create the front façade image, so we laughed at the situation and quickly put the house back together before we were left moving furniture in the dark.”

“Including travel time, that day was from 5:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m., and to get the photos delivered to the magazine on time I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the following morning (a Saturday) and edited for nearly 20 hours straight—stopping only to have meals and spend a little time with my family,” he says.

“Every project comes with unique challenges, which is part of what makes this ‘job’ so amazing. I love creative problem-solving and working with my clients to produce the best images possible given the circumstances we were dealt. With all the circumstances fired at us on this one, I won’t forget it any time soon!”

Many thanks to Adam for sharing this with us! If you are interested in knowing all the specifics behind this shoot, from the nitty-gritty of winning the clients, a behind the scenes look at the shoot, and the process of publication, Adam just put on a workshop about this shoot that you can purchase here.

See more of Adam’s work at and give him a follow on Instagram @adamtaylorphotos.

If you have a project you’d like to be considered for Project of the Week, you can submit it here.

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