Underexposed: Photographers of the Honolulu Underground (Pt. 1)

Words and video by Shawn “Speedy” Lopes

Photographs by Kalie Capadona and Ryan DanceMachine


At night, there’s a lovely hush along Campus Road, en route to Hemenway Hall. Light breezes rustle leaves and the quietude is palpable, broken only by the occasional moped in the distance or the errant sounds escaping Suite 202 anytime someone opens KTUH’s front door.  

“Hey, what’s up? Thanks for coming,” says my host as he welcomes me through the radio station’s second floor entrance. Ryan Miyashiro, perhaps better known as Ryan DanceMachine, is the genial host of Timbre Tantrums, a Tuesday evening showcase of indie sounds broadcast from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s campus.

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Ryan DanceMachine on the air at KTUH


If you haven’t heard his weekly radio show, perhaps you’ve seen him at gigs around Honolulu, either onstage with a number of bands, or stageside, camera in hand. His photos often make the rounds on social media.

As he tells it, photography is just one of several current diversions, and one which began as a way to placate Mom and Dad. In 2001, on a whim, Miyashiro moved to Northern California and purchased a camera to document his new existence. “Just to keep my parents’ minds at ease, I would buy a lot of point-and-shoot disposable cameras to take photos of my apartment, my work, my coworkers and my friends,” he explains to me, all the while keeping his hands on the sound board and a watchful eye on his on-air set. “And I would mail (pictures) to them just so they would know what I was up to.” Soon, Miyashiro would frequent area shows and take loads of photos. In the days preceding respectable camera phones, photo-taking required an extra step and paying for film development could render concert photography an expensive hobby. “It kind of forced me to get better fast,” he says with a chuckle.

Photos by Ryan DanceMachine


I’ve run into Miyashiro probably more than any other photographer in Honolulu, likely due to the fact that we both relish discovering new sounds at the same venues around town. There’s also a measure of fearlessness and experience one needs to brave injury to both body and equipment in and near mosh pits that scares off most hobbyists. It’s this same volatility, however, that creates opportunities for superb photos and video. This we both appreciate.

“I love doing show photography, especially for punk and hardcore, just because of how dynamic the bands are,” he reveals. “There’s a lot of motion, which really lends itself to my particular style I’ve adopted.” Utilizing flash and a slow shutter, some of Miyashiro’s most striking photos are composed with clashes of color and masses of blurred light to stunning effect. Though he can’t lay claim to inventing this style, Miyashiro appears to have mastered the technique and will gladly share pointers to anyone who expresses an interest in music photography. “Don’t feel intimidated by people who are musicians or photographers,” he offers. ”Ask them for their advice. Definitely shoot. Don’t be afraid.”


Photo by Ryan DanceMachine


For the explorers and enthusiasts of rock photography in Honolulu, there exists a perilous plane of operation, somewhere between the guarded perches of the all-access professional photographer and the lower worlds of the camera phone fumblers, frenzied fans and slam dancers, where anything can happen. Kalie Capadona, though slender in frame, is intrepid in her quest for the perfect photo. “Just be conscious of the people around you and what’s happening in the pit,” she advises.

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Kalie Capadona in conversation


Watch her work and you’ll see how she slips in quietly, like a shadow, intent on snatching an image from a band in fractions of  a second. Through her dauntlessness, Capadona has earned her share of allies and admirers in the scene, who often assist her in capturing shots. “Certain people will save me a spot up front and guard me, even strangers, which is quite endearing,” she reveals. “But no matter what, you just keep going and protect your camera.”

Photos by Kalie Capadona


Her style, interestingly, is based on common courtesy as well as achieving a natural, true-to-life aesthetic. “I don’t particularly like using flash because I don’t like to blind the musicians,” explains Capadona. “I just work around the lighting that’s at the clubs. Same thing when I do events and club photography too.”

It’s this sort of decorum, along with genuine openness and encouragement in Honolulu’s underground music scene that she believes makes local rock shows special. “Our scene here is very welcoming,” she states. “You want to see a show, just go. You’ll make friends. The bands are super friendly. There’s something nice about not having a giant divide, which you see at some of the bigger mainland shows. Here, I don’t think there’s much of that. You are very much part of the scene.”

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