COURTESY KEN GOODRICH
Examples of fine-art photography by Mary and Ken Goodrich. "Like painting and sculpture, photography is a form of artistic expression," they say.
Big Isle offers photographers infinite opportunity
Within a half-hour drive of their home in Volcano on the Big Island, Ken Goodrich and his wife, Mary, can be at the edge of smoldering volcanic calderas, vast expanses of ebony lava, pristine rain forests with waterfalls and coastlines fringed by the cobalt-blue Pacific.
Hawaii Photo Retreat
Offers workshops and personalized tours on the Big Island:
» Address: P.O. Box 412, Volcano, HI 96785
» Cost: Tour prices are $250 for one day, $450 for two days and $675 for three. (If desired, instruction in Photoshop, photography techniques and camera operation is included in the cost.) Participants are responsible for their own airfare, meals, lodging and transportation.
» Call: 985-7487
» E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
» Web site: www.hawaiiphotoretreat.com
» Note: Some locations might require hikes of a mile or so, and weather conditions can range from hot and dry to cold and wet in the same day. Wear proper clothing and sunscreen and bring plenty of water.
Web site contains a complete list of workshops; here are the next three. Photographers of all skill levels are welcome. Accommodations are for a minimum of six people and a maximum of 12. Receive a 20 percent discount if you refer a friend who also signs up. Unless noted, transportation, food, lodging and park admission fees are extra.
» Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hamakua Coast: Runs May 12 to 16. Costs $995 per person.
» Creativity and Spirit at Wood Valley Temple: June 15 to 21. Costs $1,795 per person, double occupancy, and $1,995 per person, single occupancy. Meals and six nights lodging in a Buddhist temple included.
» Women's Photography: July 6 to 12; $1,195 per person.
Such extraordinary scenes provide constant sources of inspiration for the two fine-art photographers, who founded Hawaii Photo Retreat in March 2007 to help others nurture their creativity through photo workshops and tours.
"Like painting and sculpture, photography is a form of artistic expression," said Goodrich. "We've found creative energy flourishes when guided by focused, relaxed instruction in a beautiful natural setting."
The Goodriches' careers in photography span 38 years. They've exhibited their work across the U.S. and in exotic locales such as Bali, Monte Carlo and Nice. Although they both specialize in landscape and nature photography using natural light, their styles are different.
"Mary's work can be described as romantic and ethereal, and it always displays a classic sense of composition," Goodrich said. "My photos are powerful, dramatic and sometimes abstract and surrealistic."
In 1970, camera in hand, he documented the vanishing culture of the Otomi Indians of Tlacotlapilco, Mexico. Even without formal training, he was amazed by the quality of images he produced. Interest piqued, he became adept at special-effects films and processes, image compositing, macro-photography and digital photography, often incorporating his images in multimedia presentations with live music and dance.
Mary, who studied drawing and painting, found it easy to transfer her eye for color, light, shapes and textures to photography. On an afternoon visit to the Berkeley Rose Garden in 1970, she was entranced by the luminous glow of the sun's rays on delicate petals and knew that she wanted to capture that subtle light with a camera.
Black-and-white film is her favorite medium. She develops it herself in her darkroom at home, then hand-colors prints with a rich palette of oils and colored pencils.
The Big Island provides the talented couple with endless subject matter. "In terms of scenery and climatic conditions, this island offers more diversity than just about any place in the world," Goodrich said. "Within 50 miles we can go from desert to jungle and everything in between."
They tailor their scenic tours to the special interests of their students.
Goodrich recalled Michelle, a young math teacher from Bermuda who dreamed of becoming a professional photographer. After perusing Hawaii Photo Retreat's Web site, she arranged a photography "boot camp" during her two-week visit to the Big Island last July.
"She wanted to learn about landscape photography, portraiture and event photography," Goodrich said. "Her itinerary included a fashion shoot, three Fourth of July celebrations in Hilo and stops at black-sand beaches, botanical gardens, rain forests, deserts, lava fields and waterfalls. She had a fantastic time, and went home with several publishable images and the confidence to start a new career."
HAWAII PHOTO RETREAT'S workshops delve deeper into the personal aspects of photography and revolve around a specific theme (landscapes, portraits and abstract photography are among the topics that have been examined in the past). Several times a year, well-known guest instructors from the mainland lead the sessions.
"We live for a week as a family of photographers, sharing images and insights about what it is that moves and excites us," Goodrich said. "We talk about our methods, our favorite places and the equipment that we use. As travelers on the same path, it's very satisfying to spend quality time in the company of others who share a passion for image-making."
Mornings are devoted to lessons on composition, light, camera functions, refining images with Photoshop, and other skills and techniques. Examples of photos that illustrate each concept are shown. After lunch the group reinforces what they've learned by shooting pictures at various sites.
"Our intention is to provide a place where people can escape from their everyday pressures and immerse themselves in their favorite pastime with the support of like-minded souls," Goodrich said. "A wonderful sense of community results from sharing ideas, experiences and creative energy, and many lasting friendships are forged."
Another benefit is the relationship participants develop with nature as they express their individuality through photography.
"Their work is an exploration of who they are and their connection with nature," Goodrich said. "Our day trips proceed at a leisurely pace, so they not only get to see incredible places on the Big Island, they get to really experience them using all of their senses. Their photos are valuable records of that amazing journey of discovery."
COURTESY LAURA COTRILL
Mary Goodrich at work during a nature workshop.
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.