“Inspiring Photographers with Aloha and light”
-An authentic Cultural experience.

Hula and Hawaiian Culture Photojournalistic Ethnography

Map of Hilo, Hawaii
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“I learned to view nature in a new light and hope to continue practicing the great photography techniques that I learned.”

- Sara Jenkins

Hula is the timeless soulful expression of the Hawaiian culture, it is the means to share the cultural stories passed down from older generations to younger. It’s gracefulness and beauty is world renown. This photography workshop offers a rare glimpse into the behind the scenes preparation of one of Hawaii’s most successful hula halaus (school) while they prepare for the prestigious Merrie Monarch festival, a hula competition created by the Merrie Monarch himself, King David Kalakaua to preserve the culture and showcase the talent of Halau’s throughout the islands. We have been adopted by Hula Halau O’kahiki Laulani to join them as partners in Aloha for this very special week. Follow a hula halau during the week of the international Merrie Monarch Hula competition as they head into their natural surroundings and collect elements for their ritual costumes. This is a unique opportunity to photograph them making their costumes and in rehearsals. You will be able to photograph hula practitioners on location in nature areas both as soloists and in a group. This is a unique opportunity for photographers as well as videographers. We will be staying at a beautiful retreat center in the rainforest along the Puna coast. This lush tropical location is one of our favorite spots in the state of Hawaii for its dramatic coastline panoramas black sand beaches and native forests. The workshop environment will be a beautiful setting to contemplate the photojournalistic ethnography process. In the evenings we will be able to offer photo guidance and peer reviews. This workshop has been engineered to create a portfolio of diverse and dynamic images in a variety of shooting locations and subjects.


  • Day 1 – Saturday, April 19, 2014 Arrive in Hilo. Grab lunch in Hilo. Hula orientation with Eden at the beautiful Kalani retreat center.
  • Day 2 – Sunday, April 20, 2014 9AM Ho’olaulea Celebration Afternoon Volcano excursion
  • Day 3 – Monday, April 21, 2014 Introduced to Halau members and assigned to Halau partners Evening sunset beach location rehearsal shoot
  • Day 4 – Tuesday, April 22, 2014 Rehearsal and preparation at the Halau studio
  • Day 5 – Wednesday, April 23, 2014 Rehearsal coverage and shoot 6PM ho’oike
  • Day 6 – Thursday, April 24, 2014 Individual shoots with Halau members 6PM Miss Aloha Hula – Kahikio, Auana + ole
  • Day 7 – Friday, April 25, 2014 Group Competition
  • Day 8 – Saturday, April 26, 2014 10:30 parade Departure

Trip Highlights

  • Meet and follow a professional Hula dancer during the week of the biggest Hula competition of the year.
  • Learn and understand the various types of Hula and it’s rich history.
  • Shoot with a full Hula Halau on location.
  • Be a part of the Merrie Monarch festival!

Tour Details

Dates – April 19-26,2014 Fee – $XXXX.00

  • Includes Room and Board for 6 days and 5 nights
  • Based on Double occupancy
  • Includes Meals
*Does not include airfare to and from Hawaii Island Deposit – $1500.00 by February 1, 2014 Limit – 12 people (6 spots left) Special terms and conditions may apply.

Workshop Leaders

Pic of Brian Brian Ross has been shooting for over 25 years, and his work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, the Broadway Gallery in NYC, & the Hui No’eau in Hawaii. He has a degree in Communications & Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, and has done graduate work in Filmmaking at NYU. Brian has photographed noble laureates: HH the Dalai Lama XIV, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and has explored contemporary expressions of spirituality and art. He has created successful fundraising art events to benefit the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund & the Tibetan Children’s Village in India. He is the author of “Lunch with Krishna”, a work of fiction examining spirituality and culture in contemporary society. Over the last decade Brian has been photographing and exploring Hawaii’s most scenic locations. Brian Ross Pic of Sian Sian Olsen Pic of Matthew Mauicreativephotography.com Matthew Nall Pic of Madelynne Mauicreativephotography.com Madelynne Nehl Pic of Eden Expert Hula leader Eden Patino