Social Photography Builds Community Around Capturing Hawaiʻi's Natural Beauty

Jul 26, 2017

Amateur photographer Johann Hepner joined the Sunset Photo Walk. Here is his favorite shot.
Credit Johann Hepner

Hawaiian sunsets are heaven for any photographer…if you can capture it. Learning how to photograph Hawaiʻiʻs natural beauty doesn’t have to take place in a classroom either.

Social photography events are a popular way for amateur photographers to polish their skills and socialize at the same time. HPR’s Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi met up with local photographers for a Sunset Photo Walk.

Michelle Ebalaroza joined a group of amateur photographers taking part in a Sunset Photo Walk led by professional photographer Philip Kitamura.

Philip Kitamura goes over camera settings with amateur photographer Michelle Ebalaroza.
Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

“For today we are trying to capture a nice and beautiful Hawaiian sunset out in Magic Island,” says Kitamura, “A lot of people don’t expose for the actual subjects so either they think they’re taking a portrait of their subjects with the sunset in the background but they might not get any detail on their face at all. Or vice versa and they’ll just blow out the entire sunset.

Ebalaroza was in the latter group.

“Well, he showed me how to change the, see I don’t even know, the shutter and the aperture I guess,” says Ebalaroza, “So the shutter stayed open longer and you get better details in the waves.”

Without washing out that sunset in the background. Trevor Spring organized the free photo walk on behalf of Hawaiʻi Camera, a Kaimukī camera rental company.

Sunset Photo Walk participants set up to capture that Magic Island sunset.
Credit Ku'uwehi Hiraishi

“We wanna get real photography into the hands of people who haven’t had the guidance in the past because it’s amazing what you can do with a real camera just a little bit of guidance,” says Spring.

Here’s Kitamura on capturing that perfect sunset photo.

“You can take an empty sunset photo and it would be great and all, but I really think that a photo comes to life when you place subjects into that and if you can get them to give you kind of like a perspective or a sense of feeling and emotion that makes it so much better,” says Kitamura.

Philip Kitamura captured this shot at the Sunset Photo Walk.
Credit Philip Kitamura


Photo walks are offered once or twice a month, covering topics like sunrises and seascapes, nights and city lights, or wildlife photography with Kaimana’s latest monk-seal-in-residence.

Amateur photographer Brian Chow captures his perfect sunset shot.
Credit Philip Kitamura

“I mean it’s just good for people to come out to beautiful places, get together and watching other people doing it at an event like this and get to be supported by the community aspect of it. It sort of just opens up a whole new world,” says Spring.