Colby Takeda

Photo courtesy The Plaza Assisted Living

Photo courtesy The Plaza Assisted Living

Colby Takeda has been sharing his love of photography with kupuna at The Plaza at Mililani, where he is administrator-in-training. He enjoys finding ways to integrate photography into whatever he’s doing, and he admits he carries around his camera at work.

“Residents would ask about it,” he says. “They would be amazed at what great photos I took, and they would ask me questions about photography.”

That interest in his hobby encouraged Takeda to add photography to The Plaza at Mililani’s senior programming. His goal was to make it not only fun, but also educational.

In the classes, Takeda covers photography basics and explains that photography is all around us. He delves into the inner workings of cameras, shows seniors how to properly hold a camera while taking photos, and discusses the ethics and power of photography.

“We teach them about the technical principles; we talk about light, color, composition, movement, perspective, empty space and show them examples of each,” he explains.

So far, nearly 40 seniors have participated in the class, and the excitement they feel compels them to want to learn more. Takeda couldn’t be happier.

“It’s fascinating to see,” he says. “One of the residents said it’s a new hobby she never thought she’d do in her life, especially at her age. There’s a study that (revealed) putting seniors through mentally demanding activities … (It) tested digital photography and found it is likely to improve cognitive functioning. Whereas the less demanding activities had no noticeable benefits.”

The art of taking photos, while simple for people familiar with DSLR cameras and smartphones, can be difficult for seniors to comprehend and execute, but it’s that outside-the-box thinking that challenges them in a good way. As a result of numerous photos shot by Hawaii’s kupuna, The Photovoice Project came to fruition.

Mililani Plaza residents had their works on display at The Plaza at Mililani, and photos from all Plaza members will be shown at Hawaii State Library. Visitors to the library have responded so well to the exhibition that the library has decided to keep up the display through Dec. 15. Those unable to make it to the library can look forward to another showcase at the state Capitol Jan. 2-30 in the chamber-level foyer.

“My dad gave me my camera when I was in the fifth grade,” Takeda explains. “I always carried around a camera with me, and it’s great that I took that education from high school and college and can give back to the residents. Everyone is looking toward technology, and we’re integrating that into our generational seniors.”