"They say good things take time, but really great things happen in the blink of an eye," said Velveteen Rabbit author Margery Williams.
"Agreed," said emerging Valley Island nature photographer Kenneth D. Yanos.
In three short years, the 30-something, Maui born-and-raised Yanos transformed his lifelong passion for photography--once a hobby--into a successful professional career.
Kenneth D. Yanos has stretched himself beyond what he calls his “comfort zones” by becoming a “witty philosopher” and an accomplished, professional nature photographer.
After graduating in 1996 from Maui High School, Yanos said he picked up jobs for money "because the family and society expect you to work."
But when he took a chance to start the career he loved, he now wakes up leaping out of bed with visions of "photo shoots" dancing in his head.
His 2014 "Maui Photo and Inspiration Calendar" is a testament that with determination and perseverance, great things can happen quickly. It's a personal triumph for Yanos as he accomplishes all the little things it takes to gain skills and hone talents into a professional career.
Yanos' big break came when he began reading encouraging quotes to help him face his fears. His personal search for courage and self expression led to his a "big idea" to create his 13-month calendar with an emphasis on "Pidgin Wit and Wisdom" that matched his Maui landscape photos with famous quotes by famous people that motivated him.
"In oddah words pickchas wit' scripchas," he said, which is also the subtitle for his calendar.
Before he became committed, Yanos was casually notorious among his friends and family for snapping and sending amazing mini-photos from his tiny smart phone. He got a lot of encouragement to pursue his dream of becoming a nature photographer.
Finally, he took his friends' advice and signed up for course at the University of Hawai'i (UH) on how to start a microenterprise. The course, titled, "Discovering Genius," making self-employment work for individuals with disabilities," is a the self-paced, exploration that maps out small business pathways one person at a time. It's a partnership between UH and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
During the course, he built his portfolio online, learning as he went. Twice, he attended the Maui Photo Festival, volunteered for freelance "First Friday" gigs and mall events. And, he went "holoholo, solo, lots and lots of days and nights," to his favorite spots on the Valley Isle, photographing views of "hidden" Maui that only a local boy truly knows.
The individualized pathway style of supported self-employment suited Yanos' needs to further sharpen his technical and design skills, and gain courage and confidence in his talent. He also needed a very flexible work schedule to meet with his doctors in managing daily symptoms related to kidney failure.
Given the ups and downs of his health status, he readily admits that at first he was "full-on" scared to believe he could actually have a career as a photographer. But as he built his creative body of work, his self-esteem began emerging, which, he said, was his biggest challenge.
"He began to understand we're all living our lives one day at a time, and that the future is an unknown for everyone," said the UH self-employment course Instructor Susan Miller, who is a faculty member at the UH College of Education, Center on Disability Studies. "He's worked hard to push himself to believe he could do things that made him feel uncomfortable."
"Kenneth has developed his identity as an talented artist and witty philosopher of sorts," said Yanos' mentor, Maui visual artist Kathleen O'Bryan.
Together with O'Bryan, Yanos stretched himself beyond what he calls his "comfort zones" and has made himself more visible as an artist. He's now running his very own commercial photography business.
"His calendar is great--and he's great," O'Bryan added. "He can do what he puts his mind to. He's very proud of himself. We are, too."
Find his 2014 creative work and sales prices at kennethdyanosphotography.com.