This is a photograph, literally, of a crew member wayfinding aboard Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hōkūleʻa, during a moonlit night on a nine-day sail from Hawai‘i to Palmyra Atoll. Wayfinding refers to the traditional art of navigating ocean voyages using knowledge of natural phenomenon, without modern instruments.
A long exposure onto black and white film renders a charcoal-like recording of reality where details are obscured. A feeling of movement and energy are at play, and the human figure is awash in the gathering darkness. During this sail, I was interested in expressing something I could feel but couldn’t see. My point of view had evolved over a decades-long relationship with voyaging. But as a photographer, our hope is always that the meaning of the photograph is made complete by the viewer’s reading of it.
My formal introduction to photography was in the 10th grade at Punahou with art teacher Jim Little. I recall Mr. Little having a positive outlook on things. He was so supportive and encouraging in that formative year, and this stuck with me.
Monte Costa is an editorial and documentary photographer. She has photographed the projects of the Polynesian Voyaging Society extensively in Hawai‘i and abroad. Costa is a regular contributor to Hana Hou! Magazine, and she continually finds the ocean a source of inspiration in her work.
© Monte Costa