The Pacific Ocean swelled in the early morning light as the water was already dotted with people. It was after 7 a.m. on Waikiki Beach when I walked from our hotel a block away. I was there to cover the Boise State vs. Hawaii football game last November.
The smell of the ocean and the touch of the sand were familiar to me. Forty-seven years prior I was born at Hickam Air Force Base near Pearl Harbor. My father was in the military, and Hawaii was one of many stops for our family.
The assignment to the islands was undoubtedly one of the most exotic places I was ever sent for the Statesman in my 20-year career. Each morning I would get up early and walk to the beach to watch the horizon slip into infinity and feel the warm sun on my skin. Watching the water ebb and flow has a way of calming you. You begin to think more clearly and with more perspective. It was during one of these early morning walks that I had the overwhelming sense it might be my last trip for the Idaho Statesman.
For the past few years I've been interested in the Web and how pages are designed. I took online classes, read dozens of books and constantly looked at websites. In my spare time I began building websites using basic Web languages like HTML, CSS and jQuery.
I soon realized I enjoyed building Web pages as much as taking photographs, and I began looking at the possibility of making a career change. When I had the chance to join the largest online sports nutrition company in the world - bodybuilding.com - I took it.
It wasn't an easy decision. I'm leaving behind not only a long career, but more than two decades of relationships. I've taken pictures of thousands of people here in Idaho over the last 20 years. It's not uncommon to walk down the street in Boise and recognize a person I had photographed years before. It's rare, but I have even photographed the sons or daughters of some of the same people.
While I may have photographed my last Boise State football game for the Statesman, my wife and I will be going back to Hawaii in a couple of years to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.
We'll get up early and walk along the beach in our bare feet. Feel the sand and the warm tropical breeze. Later we might enjoy a Hawaiian tradition - watching the sun set below the Pacific.
I might even take my camera on this trip.
Chris Butler: 377-6434