Beau Davidson, photographer from Hawaii, dies at 88
Posted September 28, 2018 12:25:32A man who captured the lives of the men and women of Maui during the 2011 eruption of Mount St. Helens and then went on to create images of the devastation in Hawaii is one of the most photographed people to ever live on the Big Island.
“My dad used to say, ‘If you’re lucky, you get to do it a thousand times,'” Beau Davidson told News24.
“So it was pretty exciting, really, to see it happen and then see it get all the way back to you.”
Davidson was born in Maui, Hawaii, on November 14, 1923.
He worked in the Maui Post Office for nearly 25 years before moving to Hawaii to attend college in Honolulu in the 1950s.
He graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1952 with a degree in photography.
Davidson also worked in film production for several years, as well as teaching at a local community college.
In 1954, he and his wife took a vacation to Maui and were there to document the volcanic eruption.
The couple had been hiking the volcano’s northern side and were heading back to their home in Hilo, when they saw the destruction on the west side of the volcano.
“The first thing I did was to shoot the west end of the crater, which is where we found the lava,” Davidson said.
“I took a picture of that and I wrote it down, ‘There’s a house there.'”
The couple eventually moved to the Big Bend, which was home to the famous Haleakala volcano, and stayed there for more than 30 years.
The couple went on many trips and made numerous trips to Hawaii.
Davidson was a photographer for the local newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and his images captured the destruction from a variety of angles.
“It’s not as if I was just trying to photograph a photo, but I was trying to document a situation,” Davidson recalled.
“It was kind of like a ‘whirlwind trip,’ a little bit.”
When the pair returned to Mauu, they began working on a series of photographs and prints.
Davidson spent several months photographing the destruction before deciding to take on a more dramatic project, which became “The Big Bend,” which was published in 1956.
The photographs were later exhibited in the Hawaii Museum of Art in Honolulu and were published in Hawaii Press.
In the years following the eruption, Davidson would travel throughout the islands to photograph the damage and capture the people who helped clean up.
Davidson said the exposure on the negatives made him feel like he was “really there.”
“It was really emotional,” he said.
“I was there and I saw what was going on.
It was like I was there, and I was on the same boat as the people that were cleaning it up.
I had this feeling that I was watching my family.”
The photographs have become iconic, and Davidson is one who has inspired others to follow his lead.
“A lot of people are very excited to see that I’ve got a name on the back of them, and that they have seen a photo of me that has inspired them to do something,” he joked.
“People see me as somebody who took an incredible picture of what was happening,” he continued.
“They’re just looking for somebody to do that, and it’s been a great honor.”
Davidons mother, Patricia Davidson, was also a photographer.
She died in 2010 at the age of 90.
He said she was a very kind and caring person who was always trying to do the right thing.
“She was always a kind person, but her main passion was to help people and to do things the right way,” he added.