Indigenous Photographers Week: Kapulei Flores
Kapulei Flores is a Kanaka Maoli, Native Hawaiian, from the Moku o Keawe, also known as Hawaiʻi Island. She is a photographer focused on capturing authentic moments and showing a perspective of Hawaiʻi through native eyes. Her goal is to use photography as a tool with activism and perpetuating the culture of Hawaiʻi. Kapulei says, “Ever since I was young, I have used photography to capture the culture and activism of my family and community. Over the years it has turned into an outlet to provide insight into the activism of my family, my community, and the culture of my people. My family and I have been involved in the efforts to Protect Mauna Kea for over ten years and it has enabled us to connect withmany other Indigenous people around the world”.
Kapulei Flores is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) from the Moku o Keawe, also known as Hawaiʻi Island. She is a photographer focused on capturing authentic moments and showing a perspective of Hawaiʻi through native eyes. Her goal is to use photography as a tool with activism and perpetuating the culture of Hawaiʻi. For 10+ years Kapulei along with her family have been involved in the Protect Mauna Kea Movement, which has allowed her to document her family’s journey throughout this movement as well as other frontlines around the world. Through documenting different cultural events, ceremonies, and movements she has had her work and story of photography and Mauna Kea be featured in Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed News, Vox, Ms. Magazine’s 25 under 25, and more. With photography she hopes to share a glimpse of the sacred place she calls home as well as the beauty of her people actively continuing traditions that have been carried on for generations. She strives to shed light on the mistruths often told about Hawaiʻi and spread awareness to the many overlapping issues in Hawaiʻi that Hawaiians face daily. She has helped to put together a series of exhibits as well as having her work featured in exhibits like Indigenous Photograph, Photoville, and Illuminative. As of now she works for Mauna Kea Education and Awareness (MKEA), runs the @protectmaunakea Instagram, as well as having her own photography account called @kapzphotography.
Flores’ work was featured in Assembly magazine through the Malala Organization and in the Indigenous Futures Storytelling Exhibit.
Oftentimes the things that are said and heard about Hawaiʻi are coming from a foreign outside perspective, which is why I strive to tell the stories of Hawaiʻi from a native perspective. Giving an insight to the connection I have with my ʻāina hānau, place of birth, as well as the connection between us as Hawaiians and the land we come from. I want to share even a glimpse of what its like to live in Hawaiʻi as a Hawaiian who is actively trying to protect their land from destruction, overdevelopment, and the military. As I’m also trying to practice my culture in the best way I can while living under a government system that is set up to make it hard to be Hawaiian in Hawaiʻi. Sharing the beauty and heartaches through my photography that comes with existing as a Hawaiian who practices their culture and fights to protect their land to make sure there is a Hawaiʻi left for the future generations. – Kapulei Flores
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