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Volunteer spotlight: behind the lens with Teresa Terrell

Uncle Lloyd, homeowner, shares fond memories with photographer Teresa Terrell.

If you participated in our Veterans Build last December or our Wahine Build this spring, chances are you probably met Teresa. Or more likely, you witnessed her busy at work behind the scenes on a build site, capturing so many of the candid and genuine moments shared between Habitat volunteers and homeowners as they worked together to build homes, community, and hope here in Oahu. This month, we’re taking a closer look at the woman behind the lens.  

Teresa is a skilled photographer, nature enthusiast, bilingual world-traveler, business owner and a truly special Habitat volunteer. She has over 14 years of experience behind the camera and for the past year, she has been sharing those skills and talents with Habitat. Not only does she have an eye for storytelling, but she has a natural knack for connecting with people, and a disarming presence that allows her subjects to feel relaxed and comfortable in front of the camera.  

Raised in a navy family, Teresa often moved from city to city growing up. This exposed her to different cultures and languages and stirred up a curiosity for the world around her. Eventually (and luckily for us), her trajectory brought her to Hawaii, where for the past 3 years she has lived and worked. Teresa has enjoyed cultivating relationships and building a sense of community here, and today you will find her running her own photography business and enjoying life with her adopted dog Boba. We know you will love getting to know her as much as we have!  


Tell us a little about yourself; who is Teresa Terrell? 

I grew up being what is affectionately referred to as a “Navy Brat”. Meaning both of my parents were in the Navy, which gave us an opportunity to live many different places in the US and abroad. The longest place I have lived has been Ohio. I went to high school and college in Ohio, so I will most often say that is where I am from. I grew up being exposed to different languages and cultures. This left me wanting to explore and get to know more of the world on my own. I lived in Taiwan for an accumulation of 2 years and became working proficient in Mandarin Chinese through work and study. I have lived on Oahu for 3 years now and love the sense of community I have been able to build here. I have been able to start my own photography business and have even had the opportunity to adopt my very own dog (her name is Boba – like the tea!) and she is very cute.  

How long have you been practicing photography? 

I have been practicing photography since freshman year of high school. My late uncle was very into photojournalism, and we had a few of his film cameras in storage. My mom let me use the cameras as I started having a growing interest in photography. I learned a lot about cameras through trial and error, as well as having my friends graciously volunteering to model for me. Eventually, I sought out college courses to deepen my knowledge of the art. In total, I have been practicing photography consistently for 14 years.  

What style of photography are you most passionate about? 

I really love a wide variety of genres, but I am most drawn to fashion photography and photojournalism. The two genres require you to flex two very different creative muscles that are both valuable. Fashion photography allows your creativity to run wild. You often start with a blank canvas and everything in the frame is there to serve your creative purpose. You must flex creative control over everything in the shot.   

In the same breath, I also really love photojournalism as well because you must be creative with what you are given. You must be flexible with the things in the environment that you cannot control. You must also be committed to ​portraying the honesty of what is in front of you. I love photojournalism and fashion photography for the juxtaposing creativity both of those styles demand of you.  

What do you do when you’re not behind the camera? 

I feel most recharged being outside. So, in my free time you’ll find me surfing, hiking or walking my dog. 

What inspired you to volunteer with Habitat? 

I have had multiple friends and family members that have either worked for or volunteered for Habitat. I believe in Habitat’s mission. Further, I have learned how prominent of an issue housing is on O’ahu, so working with Habitat felt like a significant and meaningful way to give back. Finally, I am settled enough in my life where I can prioritize giving back to a community that has given so much to me, so volunteering for Habitat was just a natural choice for me. 

What did you enjoy most about your time taking photos on the build site? 

​I love watching volunteers and workers getting to know each other and who they are building for. I think the pandemic might have something to do with me giving greater value to human connection, but it’s just nice seeing these little interactions again.  

To view other fantastic portraits, lifestyle photos, and artistic shots of the natural world, visit Teresa Aubrey Photography. 


Beyond the build site 

Here at Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, volunteers come in many forms. Yes, we rely on the help of hundreds of construction volunteers each year, but did you know that we also depend on the unique skillsets and talents of countless volunteers off the build site too? There are so many ways to get involved, from photography and videography to event planning, grants research and administrative tasks, lending a hand in our ReStore warehouse, joining a committee and even design and tech training! No matter the task at hand, every volunteer is invaluable to helping families in our community build strength and stability through safe and affordable homeownership. 

Are you interested in getting involved in a non-construction way? Do you have a special talent, skillset, or passion you’d like to contribute? Check out our current volunteer opportunities or contact us at today!  


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