I first came across Lani Wendt-Young a couple of years ago via my sister Talia. I had just started posting my Ink Series on tumblr (hadn’t got round to setting up peninajoy then and was only posting up Ink stories) and Talia was like hey! I came across this blogger that posts on guys with tattoos AND she’s Samoan too – you should check her out. At first I was like oh no! she might think I’ve copied her if she’s already blogging about guys with tattoos but I was relieved to find she didn’t focus on the stories behind their ink but was more interested in the bodies the ink was on lol! Was an instant fan of her blog – she’s refreshingly honest and FUNNY and I love that she shares her everyday trials and not just her successes. If you’re not familiar – get familiar here!
In her own words “In between writing books about strong, vibrant Pacific women, fabulous gifted fa’afafine ( with some tattooed, chiselled men added in for good measure) I’m also a blogger, mother of the Fabulous Five, a Demented Domestic Goddess, Wife of Hot Man, Long-Time-Ago-English Teacher, Dancer Only When Nobody’s Looking, and Baker of Too Many Desserts…”
Towards the end of 2011 Lani had just released her Young Adult contemporary romance series, Telesa, based on Samoan mythology. About the same time I was putting together the 2 features I did on Ezra Taylor (which you can read here and here). It worked out really well because Ezra had become the ‘face’ (and body) of one of the main characters in Lanis series so we’d corresponded a couple of times about different things to do with the Telesa promo shots by Jordan Kwan & Tim Rasmussen that I was using for the post on him. I had actually gone out to the launch of Lani’s first book in Otara by accident looking for Jordan Kwans Sexy Samoan Mens Calendar and a copy of the SUGA magazine which I’d been asked to review lol! SUGA magazines first issue also featured an interview with Lani and a special section dedicated to the Telesa series.
Earlier this year Lani had approached my sister Talia to help her out with a new look for her website and she also wanted to re-release the Telesa series as a set to coincide with the launch of her 3rd book in the series “The Bone Bearer” and so needed the book covers re-done. She also needed to find both a guy and a girl who had the traditional Samoan tattoos and so Talia asked me if I knew anyone. My friend Stacie Ah-Chong-Levi that I used to work with back at GO Holidays had, had her malu done just after her wedding in Samoa and I knew her husband Alesana had the pe’a so asked if they’d be interested in being the models. They were keen so a shoot was set-up in my parents garage in South Auckland.
Guess who the photographer was? Haha! Maaaaan I gotta say I was nervous because A/ I’m not a professional. B/ I’ve only done a couple of shoots using professional lighting with The Society guys (shouts to Rimoni & the boys) and I didn’t really know what I was doing – I just followed their lead and C/ I know how popular these books are and I think Jordan Kwan & Tim Rasmussen did an amazing job with the other Telesa shoots so yeah, big shoes to fill – no pressure or anything ……… and did I mention I’m not a professional? lol!
BUT! I’m REALLY grateful for the opportunity, it was an awesome experience meeting Lani and working with her on the covers. My sister Talia is incredibly talented and both her and Lani already had a clear vision for what they wanted the covers to look like (Talia even had a storyboard all planned out and everything) so I basically just shot whatever they told me to shoot and yes, I’m pretty stoked with how the photos came out! So, once again thank you Lani for taking a chance on an amateur and for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Telesa series and part of Samoan history ha!
Talia did all the graphics for the covers so I’ve included my original photos from the shoot and then Talias final edit/versions for the book cover or Lanis website. As you can see my sister makes my photographs look REALLY good lol! Check the pics out after the drop.
Another side-note to the shoot is that Lani used to teach high-school English back in Samoa and it turned out she’d been both Stacie & Alesanas high school teacher at Robert Louis Stevenson High in Samoa. Such a small world right? You can read a bit more of Stacie and Alesanas story here and look out for their feature in my Ink Series which will be coming up soon.
On Saturday the 17th of August, Lani kicked off her book launch & tour for the last book in the Telesa trilogy ‘The Bone Bearer’ where she signed books, talked to & had photographs with fans at the Manukau BNZ. The lovely Yolande Ah-Chong was the MC & the South Auckland crowd was treated to performances by Rosita Vai, Marina Davis, The Tatau Dance Group and more.
There were lots of local Polynesian businesses out in support. Shop Samoa, Mailelani, Radio 531PI & Plantation House as well as food & clothing stalls. To check out photos from the day click here
Lani goes to Brisbane next so check out her schedule here so you’ll be sure to catch her on her promo tour in a city near you!
I also got to IV Lani for MY Lanis (my sister Leilani) Lani Says site so you can head over there to check that out. Shouts to my little cuz Destiny (who is a huge fan of the Telesa series) for her input on the questions as well.
Pics from the Telesa shoot as promised:
WHEN WATER BURNS
THE BONE BEARER
I’ve also included a couple of shots that are personal faves & you can click here for some more more from the shoot that have not previously been seen.