Develop your visual style and discover the aloha spirit in the tropical paradise of the Big Island of Hawaii with its diverse natural scenery of active volcanoes, lush rain forests, and dramatic ocean shores.
Dates: Feb 19, 2023 - Feb 25, 2023
Advanced, Workshop Fee: $2795
Class Size: 12 (max)
Meg Weston has spent almost 40 years photographing Hawaii’s volcanic landscape and writing about the geological forces that shape this earth. Elizabeth Greenberg has captured the essence of the islands in her photography. Together they will lead your journey through this mythical land including daily excursions focused on image-making, writing, reflection, and the creative process.
The Kilauea Volcano has been almost continuously active since 1983, and activity in 2018 dramatically changed the landscape in the Puna district. Since September 2021, the crater at Halemaumau is filled up with an active lava lake. We don’t know what will be happening in February 2023, but we know that the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele has an endless supply of mysteries to reveal. Our venues on the Big Island are planned to include volcanic landscapes, dramatic ocean vistas, tidal pools, rainforest gardens, and Polynesian culture: sacred Hawaiian sites, hula dancers, and traditional music. You will find daily inspirations to develop your own personal story.
Hawaiian culture is rich with folklore and myths that relate the natural elements to tales of their gods. These tales speak of love, birth and death, passion, and betrayal – throughout the week we’ll work with these myths and folklore as our inspirations, exploring themes of memory and imagination using the landscape and Hawaiian culture as metaphors for developing your own personal myths and stories in words and images.
Tuition includes instruction, first and last night dinner, and admission to parks and locations. We will have two rental cars for carpooling, however, students may opt to rent their own cars. Those traveling with companions are encouraged to rent a car.
This is an ideal workshop to bring along a spouse, son, daughter, or partner. If you are bringing a companion you will want to rent your own vehicle for your companion’s convenience. Non-photographic companions may join the group sessions and for meals but are not involved in the critique or review sessions. Transportation is not provided for companions. The companion supplement is $295.
Accommodations are not included. Meg & Elizabeth will be staying at the Dolphin Bay Hotel, dolphinbayhotel.com a short walk from downtown Hilo and suggest that students book there as well. All units have full kitchens, TVs, and WIFI. Coffee/tea are available each morning at 5:00am, followed by pastries at 6:30am and fresh fruit all day. The grounds around the hotel are beautifully landscaped with exotic orchids, plumeria, wild ginger, bird of paradise, palm trees, and native Hawaiian ferns. There are several paths behind the hotel that lead to a jungle garden.
Note: MMW+C has rooms reserved here for our students to book for a Saturday arrival and Saturday departure. You must book directly with Dolphin Bay to secure your room. BE SURE TO LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE WITH THE MAINE MEDIA GROUP. February is the most popular month to visit Hawaii, so please book your room by October 31 to assure your room in Hilo. Nearby as well, are the Grand Naniloa Hotel and the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.
Highlights of the trip:
Experiencing the Aloha spirit of real Hawaii
Discovering Hawaii off the typical tourist track
Visiting Hawaiian cultural sites, such as Ke‘ekū Heiau (luakini), one of the largest intact heiau in the region
Tropical flowers and dramatic oceanfront vistas
Photographing the glow of Halemaumau Crater or other sculptural volcanic landscapes
Exploring active volcanic landscapes with steaming fumaroles
Writing from daily prompts and learning to “talk story” Hawaiian style
Listening to live Hawaiian music
What you will learn:
Translating landscape into your own personal expression
Writing to complement and deepen your artistic vision
Creative camera settings in a variety of light and weather conditions
Exposure to Hawaiian culture and mythology as a lens to understanding nature
Bringing writing to life by developing imagery, senses, and scenes
As volcanic activity is constantly changing the landscape, we will make adjustments to the itinerary as we get closer to February, and sometimes while we are there. This represents a general idea of what we have planned for our time together. We will plan our photographic journeys out to keep everyone safe and to see the wonders of this magical land.
(Note: so that we are sure to visit spectacular locations with the best possible light, the schedule of daily field trips is subject to change due to varying weather conditions)
We will meet as a group at Dolphin Bay for introductions, pupus, and a relaxing take-out dinner. At this welcome dinner, we will begin the workshop with the Hawaiian tradition of talk story, known in Hawaii as mo’olelo, the tradition of personally sharing important stories as we get to know one another.
The first assignment is for each participant to select 6 images to share with the group on Monday morning.
Early morning risers will enjoy exploring the hotel grounds or taking a walk into downtown Hilo. We will meet after breakfast and begin with individual image-sharing as a way of introducing each other to our styles, interests, sensibilities, and obsessions.
Elizabeth will present a slideshow to get everyone considering creative inspirations for photographing in the landscape and to start thinking about making expressive images. There will also be a brief review to ensure that everyone is familiar with their basic camera functions.
From Hilo, we will head just south of the downtown area to Onekahakaha Beach Park. We will sit together under a picnic shelter to do our first writing exercise, and wander through the beach park.
Lunch on your own in Hilo.
After lunch, we head up to Lapahoehoe Beach Park with our cameras. Struck by a tsunami in 1946, the population of this town was wiped out, and what remains is a dramatic ocean setting, layered with beauty and melancholy. After an afternoon of photographing, the group will return to Hilo.
Everyone is on their own for dinner and may choose from a variety of restaurants in downtown Hilo. An early night is recommended.
EARLY MORNING FIELD TRIP. We’ll head up to Volcano National Park before sunrise to capture the glow of the lava lake at Halemaumau (the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele) and wander through the steam vents rising up from the crater at sunrise.
After a magical morning of making images, we’ll have a hearty breakfast at the beautiful Kilauea Lodge.
After breakfast we’ll head back into the park and down the chain of craters road, photographing along the way down. Chain of Craters road descends 3,700 feet in 20 miles winding through powerful and exotic lava fields, ending at magnificent cliffs overlooking the ocean.
Lunch will be back up at Volcano village at the Café Ono with its fascinating gardens and open-air dining.
a relaxing afternoon to download and process images, and take a nap if needed!
Dinner/music Tuesday night at Hilo Town Tavern to hear local musicians play kani ka pila – if we’re lucky we’ll see some hula dance.
In the morning, we will gather at Dolphin Bay for a writing exercise, and then head south to Kawa in the Ka’u district to explore and photograph a sacred area. We will head to Pahoa for lunch, then out to the Puna district. The afternoon will be spent exploring the Kalapana lava fields, Lava Trees State Park, Mackenzie, and Isaac Hale beach areas, and other points of interest before heading returning to Hilo for dinner.
We’ll head north up the coast to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, located several miles north of Hilo and the Hamakua Coast’s 4 Mile Scenic Drive. Our morning will be spent photographing these tropical gardens in a dramatic oceanfront setting.
After lunch at a local café, and an outdoor writing time, we’ll continue up the Hamakua coast towards the small town of Honokaa, stopping in the historic downtown district and photographing at Akaka Falls.
This morning we will meet in the classroom. Meg and Elizabeth will meet individually with participants to review and help select images for a final slideshow of the week’s work. Everyone will have some time to work on the writing – story, myth, or poem – that will accompany their 6-image slideshow.
For lunch, we will head into Hilo and explore the Farmer’s Market. In the early afternoon, we will head over to the nearby Liliuokalani Gardens and Coconut Island for our final photography session.
We will meet late afternoon for wine, pupos, our slideshows of the week’s work, and a relaxing take-out dinner together to cap off our week.
What to bring / How to prepare:
We will be using digital camera devices for this workshop. Students may work with high-end SLRs, mirrorless cameras, high-end point–and–shoot cameras (with manual controls), or mobile phone cameras. The image capture device doesn’t matter, it’s all about your eye! Students are also encouraged to bring their own laptop and external hard drives for editing and backing up their work. Participants do need to be comfortable with their digital workflow and able to download their own images and prepare them for sharing with the group. Meg and Elizabeth will be available to meet with participants daily.
Since we will be photographing at night, you will want to bring a tripod and cable release.
The weather in Hawaii is nearly idyllic and should be warm while we are there. However, when we are up in Volcano National Park, the temperature can vary greatly from the crater to the coast so participants will want to have extra layers for warmth. Hiking shoes, a rain jacket, and a hat are also recommended.
Below: Photographs by Elizabeth Greenberg & Meg Weston
Terms and Conditions for Travel Workshops
1. Reservations & Payments
A deposit as indicated on the registration page is required to confirm your reservation for the workshop. Final payment in full is due 45 days prior to the start date of your workshop unless stated differently in the course description. Maine Media Workshops + College (“Maine Media”) reserves the right to cancel a reservation if full payment has not been received by the due date.
All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars; all payments must be made in U.S. dollars.
It is strongly advised that you purchase Trip Cancellation, Baggage, Emergency Medical Evacuation, and/or Accident and Sickness Insurance Protection. Camera equipment, computers, and baggage are carried entirely at the owner’s risk. Maine Media shall have no responsibility for any lost, damaged, or delayed property, or for an individual student’s medical needs, accidents, injuries or illnesses. You can find our travel insurance recommendations here.
5. Itinerary Changes
The itinerary for your workshop is subject to change without prior notification.
6. Passports and Visas
A valid passport is required for all international travel. You are required to notify Maine Media as to the nationality under which your passport is registered. Participants are responsible for obtaining their passports and visas. To participate in the workshop, you must have a passport that is valid until at least six months after the date on which your trip is scheduled to be completed.
7. Medical Issues
All participants must be in good health. You must advise Maine Media of any health condition, physical condition, or emotional or mental condition that may require special attention or that may adversely impact the other participants in your workshop. All students are required to complete a “Waiver of Liability” form and submit it at the time of registration. This document may be found on the course description page.
8. Liability Waiver
Every participant is required to sign Maine Media’s Waiver of Liability before departure for their workshop. Click here to download.
9. Responsibility & Photography
To ensure a safe experience, you are required to obey local customs and be considerate when photographing people or sensitive locations. The faculty member for your workshop has the right to expel any person from the workshop for behavior that is in violation of the law; that is disruptive; or that compromises the group’s safety or enjoyment. No refunds will be made to any person expelled from a workshop. Maine Media shall have no obligation to pay any costs incurred by a person as a result of that person being expelled from a workshop.
Instructor: Meg Weston
Margaret A. (Meg) Weston earned an MFA degree in Creative Writing at Lesley University in 2008, and has completed training in the Amherst Writers and Artists method for facilitating writing groups. Her memoir, The Volcano Tourist, follows her geologic journey as she pursues a passion that’s been with her since childhood. Her passion for volcanoes and geological hot spots around the world, as well as themes of memory, family, and self-discovery are the subjects of her writing. As a member of the core faculty of the Maine Media she mentors students in their creative writing projects.
Elizabeth Greenberg is an artist and educator living on the coast of Maine. She is an explorer of places and memories of that which has never been seen. Elizabeth’s passion for photography is her guide for living a life and career immersed in a daily conversation about looking at and making pictures. She is Provost at MMW + C and teaches in all programs at Maine Media, including a workshop in Hawaii.