I first met Molly Kirk (@mollykirky) a decade ago.
I was working on a multimedia for Sports Illustrated for Kids on Kona Skatepark, a famed local establishment. Molly became the opening shot of the video, a small child skating across a “Kona USA” logo.
Cason, Molly’s older brother, was our 12-year-old focus of the video around the park. He was a local kid who grew up on the beach with his local parents.
The Kirk’s are my definition of beach people. Artistic in form and practice. They are heavily vested in education, but love to surf, fish, and skate. They live close to the beach and are in lines of work that allow them time to enjoy life’s finer things, and for me as for them most of those things involve an integration with the ocean.
Molly and Cason’s dad, Bob, is a ceramics teacher and artist. He was my brother’s favorite teacher in high school, and my brother was never one to rave about teachers.
Their mom, Christine, has become a friend over the years. Through a decade of photo shoots she has been there, bringing the kids when they couldn't drive and coming to visit with us after they could. She has kept us up to date on the kid’s whereabouts and activities.
It’s no surprise that Cason - who is now 22 - is a student at FAU and an EMT. He works as a lifeguard in south Florida.
Molly, who recently turned 18 and graduated high school, began focusing on surfing a few years ago. For now travel is her education as she spends more time in the water and on the road. The shy but smiling 8-year-old with skate pads covering every extremity of her tiny body is now a professional model, surfer, and charming young adult.
When I had some down time before Christmas I got back in touch with the Kirk's to see if Molly would be in town. She was and was happy to pose. She needed photos for a modeling portfolio, I needed pictures for my photography portfolio. It was a match made in Heaven, also known as Atlantic Beach, FL.
She brought a surfboard and a change of clothes. I brought a Nikon D810, Hensel Expert D 500, Power Max L battery pack, and beauty dish. The north Florida weather did the rest.
The simplicity of the Hensel gear allowed me to bring a studio to the beach. The Power Max L battery pack allowed me to use the Expert D 500 unit - a unit usually plugged into a wall - on location, allowing incredibly fast recycle times and easily mobility to move with the ambient light.
Seeing her again after so many years was odd. Some people are forever young in our minds; a baby brother, the youngest cousin, our childhood best friend. Molly is one of those people for me. Seeing her as anything other than an 8-year-old was strange. It was a reminder that in the last decade I have also gotten older, though probably not as dramatically and gracefully as she has.
After shooting on the beach, I laughed with her mom about how much Molly has changed and how she and I are both just glad to look the same.
Once we finished on the beach, I had to go back to where it all began. We had to go back to Kona.
As much as anything, I wanted to recreate the opening shot of her from the Kona Skatepark video that is now ten years old. The light wasn’t the same - a winter storm was blowing in - but the same smiling kid cut quickly across the Kona USA logo in the middle of the park.
Things change as we grow older, but some things remain the same.