Big Island Artists Share Photo Secrets

The Goodrich's Retreat Attracts Top Artists and Budding Shooters Alike

Big Island Artists Share Photo Secrets

On the mysterious and aesthetically provocative grounds at Volcanoes National Park, lives a pair of artists who have teamed to offer one of the most unique educational experiences in Hawaii. Ken and Mary Goodrich are two accomplished photographers that tip the scales of creativity and plunge head first in to what makes every single print a unique work of art.

Every month, the Goodrich's offer seminars and outings that range from "Nudes in Nature" to "Basic Photography" and "Advanced Photographic Vision". They bring in top artists, photographers and technologists in the field to "guest star", and share their own visions with aspiring -- or even accomplished -- shooters.

Read on to hear how the idea developed, who is partaking and how you can make your next snapshot a work of art -- with a little creative insight.

B on Hawaii: How did you move from falling in love with capturing an image, to wanting to help others learn how to do the same"

Ken Goodrich: Loving to teach stems from loving to learn. I find that in the process of preparing a workshop I always learn something that enhances my own work. I also enjoy seeing the "Aha" moment when a concept or connection clicks into place for someone. Photography has been a passion for my wife Mary and me for over 20 years. It's always fun to share this excitement with others.

B: What is your technical training?

KG: I created the Technical Services Department at InVision Communications, the largest corporate production company on the West Coast. One of my responsibilities for over ten years was to teach production technology (video, projection, audio and stagecraft) to the staff and clients of InVision). When I moved to Hawaii I decided to marry two of my passions; teaching and photography. I now continue my own learning in photography by constantly reading industry books and magazines as well as attending workshops and seminars.

B: How long have you lived in Hawaii? In Volcano Village?

KG: Mary has been living in Volcano Village off and on since 1980. When we got together, I whisked her off to the Bay Area for 10 years. We always knew that we would settle in Volcano and we made the move in April 2006. Since then, we have been exploring and photographing the beauty of Hawaii Island non-stop. Nature here is in constant change. We are blessed to have such a diverse and spectacular environment at our doorstep!

B: What are a few of the most common misconceptions with photography that most people are guilty of adhering to?

KG: Most people are disappointed that their pictures don't turn out like what they saw. A common misconception is that the camera "sees" just like our eyes see. Actually, our eyes can see details in the shadows and in the highlights of a scene that neither film or digital sensor can capture fully. Add to this, the fact that a picture isolates the subject from its surroundings and freezes it in time. It is not surprising that the final image lacks the emotional impact of the event that captured our imagination in the first place. The greater part of Basic and Intermediate Photography Workshops is learning how the camera "sees". Once we understand that, we can better imbue our images with the power and feeling that moved us to capture the scene in the first place.

B: What is the most spectacular location you have shot in?

KG: Let's see... would it be the steaming lava fields of Kilauea, or the gardens and waterfalls of Hamakua, or the Kau Desert? Or maybe the Ancient Koa trees on the slopes of Mauna Loa, or Waipio Valley or a Kona sunset... Actually, my greatest satisfaction in photography is weaving the images from all of these spectacular locations into a multi-image experience -- one image dissolving into another, projected on a big screen and programmed to powerful, evocative music. This is an art form that both Mary and myself have been refining since the 1970's and we love to share these shows with audiences in theaters, museums and informal gatherings.

B: The question on everyone's mind: How much of a "great pic" lies in the equipment? Is it possible to consistently take great pics with simple technology?

KG: Yes it is possible to create great photography with simple technology. Cameras, and lenses (and now computers and software) are my tools, just as oils and brushes are the tools of a painter. However, expensive equipment does not always equal better photographs. Nor will it make a person a better photographer. A larger component in creating great pictures is the photographer's personal vision and awareness. We first take the photograph with our mind before ever releasing the shutter. We need the right tools and sufficient technique to bring our vision to life, but for many photographic artists, simple is better.

B: Who are your greatest influences"

KG: My greatest inspiration is my wife Mary. I think that she was born with an unfailing eye for great composition. I can work for hours on a picture and she can see in seconds exactly what will make it a stronger image. This has been an inestimable gift to me (and to the participants in our workshops). She is simply the best photographer I know. Early on, I was influenced by the photographer Minor White. His work showed me that photography could transcend the literal and become abstract art. And that the quest to create art can be a journey of self-awareness. A little known filmmaker, Jordan Belson, influenced my multi-image work. Jordon was a celluloid alchemist who transmuted the lead of mundane imagery into the gold of transformative visual art. I have no idea how he did what he did, but his transcendent films ignited my imagination and challenged me to create imagery that reflects worlds within.

To find out more about the workshops at Hawaii Photo Retreat, go to or call Ken and Mary at (808) 985-7487.

"A common misconception is that the camera "sees" just like our eyes see... Once we understand that, we can better imbue our images with the power and feeling that moved us to capture the scene in the first place."