Family Portraits On The Beach

KMW-BRT-080614-NickAndAmy-CZNick Galante (pictured here with wife Amy)
Owner, Nick Galante Photography

Please tell us about your business. I am a professional photographer who specializes in family portraits on the beach.

How did you get started in this business? As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a photographer — since I was a kid. I always enjoyed taking pictures. I originally started working in a camera store, then served as a representative for a camera company. My professional career as a photographer started by working at a small town newspaper in California as a photojournalist.

When did you move to Kauai and what did you do professionally when you got here? I moved to Kauai in 1987. I came here for a change from California and for warmer water. I started working at the Westin in Lihue as a photography manager. By 1996, I started working for PMRF (Pacific Missile Range Facility) as a photographer and was there for 16 years. But I’ve always had my own business on Kauai ever since I got here. Even though I was working at PMRF, I was still doing family portraits and weddings — commercial photography.

What kind of things would you photograph for the Navy? I would fly on Navy helicopters out to sea and photograph the sinking of Navy ships that were inactive. I’ve probably seen more US Navy ships sink than anyone. I also would do mundane photography for them, like grip-and-grins, shaking hands with the CEO, things like that.

Why family portraits? It seemed to be the niche that worked really well for me. Wedding photography is very competitive on the island — there are plenty of photographers. I just evolved into that niche, and my reputation built up over time, and I got better at creating samples of my work.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your business? Many times the families I shoot — up to 20 or 30 people — are actually from multiple families, all getting together with their grandparents on this special trip, coming to Kauai. I feel really enriched having played a part in something so special for these people. Many times, these families don’t get together for years and when they do, it’s important for them to have these pictures.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your business? Working with large groups of people on the beach and small children can sometimes be challenging. But, it’s usually pretty fun.

What sets your business apart from others? My experience and the fact that I’ve been doing it for as many years as I have. Also, when people do a portrait with me, it’s a fun time. My theory is that we’re going to go out on the beach to have a great time and also get some nice pictures.

What is your inspiration? My wife, Amy, and our two daughters, Maya and Midori. My wife, owner of the Waiohai Hair Salon, actually helps me on all my photo assignments. She is the stylist and takes care of the family members. She talks to them and helps make them feel comfortable.

What are some of your future aspirations? During all my years as a photographer, I’ve taken my own personal fine art photos. I have collected 28 years of photos of Kauai, and I’m putting them together and printing them on acrylic and offering them for sale as fine art. I am in the process of putting a big collection of images up at Joe’s on the Green in Poipu, and people can order them online.

What’s the most fascinating thing you’ve photographed? Because of my job at PMRF and doing commercial work all over the island, I got to do some interesting things. I’ve really enjoyed and valued the work I did for NASA when they flew the solar power airplane at PMRF more than a decade ago. That plane broke a world record reaching 100,000 feet, and it was rewarding to be a part of it and take photos of that flight. Also, a month later, that same plane crashed into the ocean off Ni’ihau. I happened to be in a helicopter right next to it when it fell, and I have photos of that.

What’s the most captivating person or family you’ve photographed? I’ve photographed three presidents during my career — Jimmy Carter (who was staying at the Westin for a week during a convention), Gerald Ford (who was there too) and Ronald Reagan (whom I photographed with the Queen of England).