The Big Island of Hawaii


Hawaii’s Big Island is one of the most photographically interesting and strangely beautiful locations on Earth. Situated across the Pacific Ocean in the most remote and isolated archipelago in the world, this young volcanic island teems with life and beckons to be explored. Hawaii Island is an ecological wonder with life zones varying from lush rainforests, warm pacific beaches to snow-capped mountain peaks over 13,000 feet in elevation. The micro-climates as well as the sheer volume of rare flora and fauna species of this place are staggering – it’s hard to put down the camera!

We run our Hawaii Volcanoes, Wildlife & Waterfalls workshop in the winter months when temperatures are slightly cooler and Humpback whales arrive in the islands to breed. Russ has extensive experience guiding, hiking and photographing the Big Island including having lived there for an entire year.

Our Big Island Photographic Workshop will take you to the fiery slopes of Mauna Loa and Volcanoes National Park. If conditions permit and lava is visible we’ll have the opportunity to photograph lava as it enters the ocean. Kilauea Volcanoe is one of the world’s most active Volcanoes – it’s been erupting continuously since 1983 creating new land on the Big Island and even the beginnings of a young Hawaiian Island, Lo’ihi still far below the ocean surface.

We’ll photograph lush jungle waterfalls such as Akaka & Rainbow Falls as well as the rugged & rural tropical coastlines of Hamakua and Waipio Valley. The beaches on Big Island are small oasis between hardened black lava flows but they are spectacular! We’re photograph sunsets at some of Hawaii’s most stunning stretches of sand including a Black Sand Beach known as a Sea Turtle nesting ground.

One of the highlights of this excursion will be a journey to the summit of Mauna Kea to view and photograph the powerful sunset on Hawaii’s highest peak – usually snow covered in the winter months. The views from Mauna Kea out over the Pacific Ocean and above the clouds are otherworldly – as are the opportunities to photograph the Milky Way from its lofty summit.

Join us this year for our annual Photographic Tour of Hawaii’s Big Island! Our itinerary will show you the best Hawaii has to offer and you’ll leave with a stunning collection of new photographs for your portfolio. Need a vacation? Why not tack on a few extra nights after the trip and relax by the island’s world class beaches?


Day 1

Arrive in Hilo, Hawaii and check into our hotel. We’ll have orientation and group dinner.

Day 2

We’ll rise early this morning to catch a Hilo Sunrise along the craggy Hamakua Coast. We’ll have the opportunity to photograph several stunning waterfalls as we hike through bamboo and tropical forests. We’ll also board a private charter to photograph Hawaii’s stunning waterfalls as they crash into the pacific ocean!

Day 3

If the lava is flowing into the ocean our private charter will take us down the coast at sunrise to photograph the flowing lava is it pours into the ocean. If possible we’ll take a hike with our knowledgeable lava guide to get up close & personal photographs of the lava is it slowly creeps along. We’ll have lunch on the trail with our goal being to reach Volcanoes National Park in the evening. We’ll watch the sunset at the Halemaumau overlook and photograph the lava lake within the crater from afar. We’ll also have time for some night photography including long exposures and star trails. Tonight we’re staying in the quaint, mountain village of Volcano right outside the park.

Day 4

We’ll be up early to catch the rising sun over Halemaumau Crater. We’ll spend the morning hiking and exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We’ll photograph native Hawaiian bird & tree species as we walk though forests of Ohia and check out the strange and otherworldly lava tubes. Late in the afternoon we’ll photograph the sinking sun on a stunning black sand known for its nesting sea turtles. This evening we’ll head for the Northwest corner of the island of check-in to the fabulous Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel!

Day 5

Our morning shoot will take out on a private charter to look for and photograph Humpback Wales along the Northern Kohala Coast. Humpbacks winter in Hawaii and our experienced captain will take us right to them! We’ll spend the morning and early afternoon photographing the wales as they breach, fin slap and play in the warm Hawaiian waters. We’ll also have the opportunity to photograph other marine life such as dolphins and green sea turtles. After lunch we’ll make our way up to the summit of Mauna Kea – Hawaii’s highest peak at 13,796 feet. The grand finale of our Hawaii Photography Workshop will be photographing the sunset from Mauna Kea’s lofty summit. Often in winter there is snow on the ground at this elevation. We’ll photograph the spectacular sunset, mabye even glimpse Maui in the distance and then stick around to photograph the night sky and possibly the Milky Way. Tonight we’ll return to our fantastic Hotel in Kohala.

Day 6 

We’ll do one last shoot as a group along the coast before saying goodbye. Flights home can be booked anytime after 12pm.


Physical Requirements
All participants must be in good physical condition and have the ability to hike with a daypack.

Group Size
We keep groups small to maximize your one on one time with the guide / instructor.

We will be staying in comfortable lodging on the Big Island of Hawaii.


All meals are included during the trip dates and we typically eat at lodges in the evening as well as a hand picked local restaurants. We often do snacks on the trail and then return for a late breakfast during photography trips as we are often out early to capture the morning light.

The weather in Hawaii is variable but arguably pretty fantastic most of the time! The lower elevations of the Island are tropical & balmy. Volcanoes National Park at 4000 feet can be chilly and at the Summit of Mauna Kea it will be winter – as in you will need a down jacket, hat and gloves! There is no such thing as bad weather just poor layering and gear choices – please plan accordingly!

Price Includes
Meals, private chartered boats, ground transportation, accommodation during the trip dates, professional photography instruction, medically certified wilderness guide.

Price Does Not Include
Airfare, alcoholic beverages, accommodations before or after the trip dates, guide & staff gratuities

Travel Details
Departure city is Hilo, Hawaii

What to Bring

Photo & Field Gear for Volcanoes, Beaches & Waterfalls of Hawaii

Required Camera Gear:

  • DSLR or Mirrorless Camera. (Nikon, Canon, Sony, Panasonic etc.)
  • Long fixed telephoto lens: 500mm (only required for wildlife focused trips)
  • Medium telephoto zoom lens (100–400mm zoom or equivalent)
  • Normal Lens (50mm or equivalent zoom)
  • Wide-angle lens (10-20mm, 16-35mm or equivalent zoom)
  • Sturdy but lightweight Tripod (must be able to carry this for hikes)
  • Memory Cards
  • Batteries, batteries, batteries (enough said?)
  • Battery Chargers
  • Filters such as a circular polarizer and neutral density are a must.
  • Lens cleaning pen & cloth
  • Camera Day Pack (this should appropriately carry all your camera & hiking gear)
  • Camera Rain Sleeve

Optional (but recommended) Camera Gear:

  • Back-Up Camera Body
  • Macro-capable lens
  • 1.4x tele converter
  • Extension tubes
  • Laptop Computer with Lightroom / Photoshop Pre-Installed
  • External Hard Drives
  • Bean bag
  • Remote Shutter Trigger
  • TTL Flash Unit
  • Camera’s Instruction Manual
  • Panorama Gear

Suggested Field Gear & Clothing:

  • Personal Field Clothing (think layers)
  • Warm top, such as a long-sleeved sweater or fleece jacket
  • Shorts & T-Shirts (it’s Hawaii!)
  • Long pants, one pair of leggings or lightweight trousers to block sun and give warmth at night
  • Warm Hat & Gloves
  • Down Jacket
  • Hiking Socks (Smartwool, Darn Tough etc.)
  • Brimmed Sun Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Sturdy Hiking Boots
  • Sport Sandals
  • Casual wear, for your evenings off the trail
  • Water Bottle or Hydration System
  • Rain shell, waterproof/breathable jacket
  • Bathing Suit/Board Shorts
  • Shooting Gloves
  • Pocket knife
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Knee pads (for low-angle shooting)
This is a general list. Before we actually depart let’s have a quick chat or email about what you are planning to bring!


  • Visit the Big Island of Hawaii
  • Photograph Humpback Whales, Dolphins & Green Sea Turtles
  • Breathtaking Waterfalls, Tropical Hikes and World-Class Beaches
  • Photograph Kilauea the world’s most active volcano.
  • Small Groups
  • Cozy Island-Style Lodging
  • All-Inclusive Trip, including top-notch local meals
  • Learn from & shoot alongside a seasoned pro

The Big Island of Hawaii

6 Days


Deposit: $1500

+$800 Single Occupancy

Fly-In: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii


2018 dates

January 14th to 19th, 2018

2019 dates

January 27th to February 1st, 2019

“Russ knows the island like the back of his hand. Having spent an entire year living on the Big Island he has a deep understanding of it’s intricacies. A very well though-out and put together trip. We got some incredible images of Humpback Wales!”

Russ MasonGalveston, Texas