About the artist
After visiting Hawaii several times starting in 1984 I moved here for good in 1991. The volcanic eruption was in a transition from Kupainanaha back to Puu Oo vent so the activity was quiet. I took this time to explore as much of the area as I could and learn how the volcano works. My adventures took me everywhere. I decided early on that I would photograph what one could as I explored but, I wouldn't show my images to anyone until I had honed my craft and I could honestly claim to be an expert volcano photographer. After nearly 10 years I finally showed my collection to a few close friends. I stayed out of the publics eye during that long period of time. For me the volcano is a geological wonder. Each and every adventure is spectacular. One has to respect the volcano and I have great respect for its power and beauty.
My photography started as a 10 year old with my Kodak 110 camera and progressed to my first SLR. A Nikon EM. The EM traveled everywhere with me. My trusty 79 Mustang and I visited every state other than Hawaii. 278k miles of driving. This first SLR would last 22 years before finally giving in to the acidic fumes of the volcano. Sadly the Mustang was left in Pennsylvania.
I've been a dedicated Nikon user since 1978. I'm self taught in the art of photography.
I'm a Native American who was born and raised in Michigan. Once I was out of High School I traveled often. At 25 I moved to Pennsylvania for 4 1/2 years and then on to California for nearly 2 years. I worked as a Glazier out of High School until 1993. For me traveling was my education once out of school. You would be amazed what can be learned just by meeting and talking to people as you travel.
About the work
Basically for me its all about patience when shooting a subject like the active lava flows of Hawaii. Most times extreme hikes are needed to reach areas of interest. My pack usually weighs between 60 & 70 lbs. Even as much as 80lbs at times. 25 mile round trip hikes require lots of survival gear as I never no how long I'll be out. Boots wear out quick in the hostile terrain of sharp and hot lava. A comfortable pack is extremely important as many times it will be on my back for several hours at a time. Minimal camera gear is carried most times. On occasion my heavy 300 mm lens has gone on 20 mile hikes but, now that I'm over 50 I'd rather have extra water. Always a sturdy tripod is with me. Light weight ones can't handle Hawaii's strong trades. Most of my images are long exposures in no or low light and rain.
First and foremost I shoot for myself. I love what I do and the fact that I can squeak out a living doing it is great. I'm not out shooting to see how much $ can I make. If people enjoy my work then of course that's even better. There's a term that's often used calling people like me "Lava Junkies". I don't see myself in this way. It's the peacefulness and tranquility while out at the lava flows that I enjoy. Yes, I find the lava very relaxing. Its my escape when I wish to get away from the so called real world. Generally I shoot very few photos while on an adventure. I have many more images in my mind that I hope to capture someday if the volcano cooperates. No previous or current photographer inspired me. I need no human inspiration as nature does it all on its own. I tend to see the world differently than anyone else and hopefully it shows in my images. In my prints you see what I saw and nothing more. As stated before, most of my lava adventures are as extreme as extreme gets. Few go to the physical extremes that I do. I hike everywhere. Many times I've been out for 50 hours without sleep. A few 65 hour stints too. I can sleep when I get home. My motto is "Live to shoot another day". I'm not crazy nor do I have a death wish. I take calculated risk based on my knowledge of the volcano. I'm not into taking chances. If the shot can't be captured safely then it can wait until another day. No image is worth your life!! 20+ years of this and I'm still alive isn't by accident. For anyone reading this and wanting to follow in my footsteps, you need to learn the volcano in baby steps over many years and know that it can kill you if you don't respect its power. Never ever venture out onto new land at the ocean entries!!! Its Russian roulette and sooner or later it will kill you. Just because you see others doing it doesn't make it any safer. Stay out of closed areas. They are closed for a reason. While growing up in Michigan I never dreamed I'd one day be living in Hawaii surfing and hiking all over an active volcano. Especially seeing that I wasn't expected to ever walk due to the severe club feet I was born with. You know the braces that Forest Gump wore in the movie, I wore those same heavy steel and leather ones except they were below the knee. Several years of wearing them left me with very strong legs.
A note to all of the young kids with disabilities, You can do whatever you want.
Never give up and never let anyone say you can't.
The volcano is a special place to me and hopefully my images make it a special place for you too.
Don't Try To Do What I do
I can't stress enough not to try and do the dangerous hikes I do. I have over 20+ years of experience hiking the lava flows. Many areas are often socked in with thick clouds and fog. Zero visibility is common. There are so many things that can and will kill the inexperienced. I know Kilauea volcano very well. Most importantly I know where not to go and when not to go! I always carry the needed gear to survive for several days. Don't think "Oh, if he can do it I can too". I have exceptional natural navigational skills that allow me to know where I am at all times no matter what. Call it a natural GPS if you want. I also have a freakish will power that allows me to overcome any physical and mental obstacles. Need a guide? Check out my Services Page for details on hiring me. If you think you can handle it, contact me.
Copyright Bryan Lowry/lavapix.com
All photographs and text © Bryan Lowry / lavapix.com. Photos may not be reproduced, publicly displayed, distributed, or resold by any means, including electronic without prior written permission from Bryan Lowry. Any such use constitutes a violation of federal and international copyright law.