Imua 'Iolani

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Honolulu, Hawai'i

Looking At Life Through A Lens: Stan Honda

April 16, 2019

     In today’s modern age, cell phones and cameras have allowed more people to reach out and connect with each other, making it is easy to forget that there once was a time when none of these inventions existed and people could rely only on memories. The creation of photography was the first major breakthrough in keeping memories alive, as it captured a moment in a single frame and allowed people to share in the story or memory. This gave rise to photojournalism, the topic shared by 2019 McDermott-Oda Chair of Communications and Journalism Mr. Stan Honda during his one-week residency at `Iolani, from April 1-5.

     Honda worked with faculty and students in U.S. History, Photography, Newsroom, and Race and Social Justice classes, and delivered an engaging talk to the local community. Honda’s talks focused on the power of photojournalism to document and communicate stories about historical and current news events.

Honda’s interest in photography started when he was a teenager.

     “I started [photography] when I was in high school, and I bought a camera. My friend and I started taking pictures for the newspaper,” said Honda, who later continued  at the University of California San Diego where he worked as a photographer for the campus newspaper.

     ”It was fun, so I decided that this would be an interesting career,” said Honda. “It sounded like a great job; you’re not in an office building all day long. I stuck with that after I left college.”

     As the years progressed, so did Honda’s knowledge in the field.  He found himself learning many things on the job.

     “I never took formal classes in photography. I’ve learned quite a bit from other people,” said Honda. A lot of photography is knowing how to tell a story with powerful images and photos, whether it’s one picture or a series of pictures.”

     Honda’s career as a photojournalist spanned 34 years. He is best known for his photos of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, some of which are displayed at the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York. He has photographed the inauguration of President Barack Obama, followed the journey of the space shuttle program for five years, and documented the aftermath of U.S. incarceration of Japanese-Americans in WWII. Honda has a personal connection to these camps; his parents were held in Poston Camp before he was born, and his curiosity about this unjust period in American history led to his research. His interest in these camps also pushed him to publish a book, “Moving Walls: The Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps,” which focuses on the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming.

     Most recently, Honda worked for the Agence France-Presse (AFP), a French news agency, He also has combined his long-time interest in astronomy and photography and is working on a project taking photographs of night sky landscapes in Haleakala and other national parks across the United States.

     It is possible to communicate without the use of words or writing. Using photography as a storytelling medium is viable and effective, as it allows the viewer to focus on a visual aspect of what is truly happening in the world. In essence, the use of photography and writing in journalism are related.  

     “Basically, they’re one in the same,” Honda said, “Writers use words, while photojournalists use pictures and still images to tell their stories. So, the standards and the way you approach it is similar and create a fair portrayal of your subject.”

     For almost two decades, the McDermott-Oda Chair program has brought to `Iolani many distinguished speakers to work with faculty and students in the areas of writing, journalism, and digital communications. Established in 2000 by internationally acclaimed travel writer and author John W.  McDermott and his associate, Stephen Oda ’61, the McDermott-Oda Chair has also enabled journalism faculty and students to travel to the mainland to attend workshops and conventions.

     As his parting gift to `Iolani School, Mr. Honda donated two copies of his book “Moving Walls: The Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps” and an accompanying video to the Upper School library.`Iolani is grateful to the McDermott-Oda Chair program for making possible a memorable visit by an interesting and accomplished guest in 2019!


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