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The Photography of Andrew Richard Hara

Photo by Andrew Richard Hara - Lava Tube

Andrew Richard Hara is a local Hawaii photographer based in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. Here he is standing in a lava tube.


Here he is standing above the glow at Halemaumau in Volcanoes National Park, also on Hawaii’s Big Island. It’s another self portrait. This photo was featured as’s “Photo of the Day” and went a bit viral.

This is not a photo anyone can get by the way. Andrew was only able to access this area while volunteering for the United States Geological Survey. With thorough knowledge of the area, Andrew knew which edge of the crater was most stable and had the most breathable air. He also had a respirator. Basically, what I’m saying is, this is one of those images that we should all admire and enjoy but probably not try to recreate ourselves.

Photo by Andrew Richard Hara - Mauna Kea Milky Way

Living in Hilo has many perks. For Hawaii photographers like Andrew, one such perk would be being able to access the summit of Mauna Kea on a whim. Like when you know it’s a clear night and want to get a self portrait holding a red flashlight with the Milky Way in the sky and Mauna Loa and the Pu’u O’o lava flow in the background. On the downside though, it rains a lot in Hilo.

Photo by Andrew Richard Hara - Pu'u O'o

Andrew doesn’t just take self-portraits. Those are his personal art projects. He’s worked as a professional photographer for National Geographic, the Keck Observatory (at the top of Mauna Kea) and the United States Geographica Survey (USGS). He’s also worked on commercial photography projects on the mainland.

The stunning image quality you see in his work comes from the combination of this local roots (born and raised in Hilo, HI) and his schooling at Pasadena Art Center, one of the top art and design schools in the country. He holds a degree in photography and digital imaging. The digital imaging education (which is post processing and compositing) really shows through in Andrew’s work.

In this story I’d like to introduce you to Andrew and share his work with you.


So now here’s a photo, taken by me, of Andrew Richard Hara. We’re in his office.

I got a friendly email from Andrew sometime last year inviting me to check out his online portfolio ( I remember seeing his photos and thinking to myself, next time I go Big Island, I need to meet this guy. So, last weekend (just a year and a half after getting that email) I found myself on a mini vacation in Hilo and I asked if he could meet.


Andrew and I have a lot in common. We both like to explore the islands, we take photos and we both are partners at small creative agencies. We’re also both Asian, have black hair and enjoy pizza. It’s like we’re brothers.

Cruise down Ponahawai Street in Hilo and you’ll see the offices of ‘Ena Media Hawaii. They are currently a four person creative agency where Andrew serves as partner and art director.


Their space is actually a house they converted into an office. I love it.


Walking inside I could see Andrew’s prints up on the walls throughout the office.


If you’re a photographer, I’m sure you can relate to how his desk looks. MacBook, gigantic monitor, hard drives all over the place. All standard characteristics of a digital workshop.


We talked about one of Andrew’s current projects. He’s been volunteering his time to help document the lava flow that’s encroaching into the town of Pahoa in the southeast part of Hawaii’s Big Island.


Blue Hawaii Helicopters have donated their time and feul to help Andrew get these photos. Andrew then donates the usage of the photos to any media outlet that would like to run them.

I’ve noticed other helicopter companies and professional photographers have teamed up to document the lava flow for posterity sake. That’s good to see as much of the photo and video I’ve seen on the local news was shot with a smart phone.


What we’re seeing here is the slow yet unstoppable force of the lava flow (bottom of photo) moving toward the town of Pahoa. It’s a thin flow that’s spilling out from a vent in the volcano called Pu’u O’o higher up on the mountain. You can learn more about the lava flow on one of the Hawaii news sites like Civil Beat or KITV News.

The lava flow could stop tomorrow or continue for years. The last time an event like this occurred, lava covered the town of Kalapana. Years later, that lava continued to flow and became a popular destination where people could take a tour and safely (relatively speaking) walk right up to flowing lava. (See Lava Hike on Hawaii’s Big Island.)


Andrew and I then talked in depth about his fine art photography. What was awesome was getting to see the before and after view of his photos. I’m not going to reveal any of his secrets here but I can say that the photo of Iao Needle on his monitor there did not look anything like that. It was pretty much just a dark mountain. But if you have a RAW photo, you can pull out all sorts of light and color from an image. And if you have the right artistic eye, you can create a stunning image.

And now, I’d like to present to you more eye candy from Hawaii photographer Andrew Richard Hara. I love the surreal and dramatic look of Andrew’s images. They seem to grab you and suck you in.

As he is based on the Big Island, all of the photos you see below are from there.


This is the glow from Halemaumau crater under the glow of the moon in Volcanoes National Park.


Here’s the Kohala Coast on the northwest tip of Hawaii’s Big Island. There’s so much to look at in this photo. It would probably look amazing printed huge.


A campsite under the stars.


A squal passes by the southeast part of the island.


Here’s a view of Punalu’u Falls from the air along the stunning Kohala Coast.

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This is the road to W.M. Keck Observatory at the top of Mauna Kea.


One of the perks of doing a commercial shoot for the observatory is that they will turn the laser on for you.

Stitched Panorama

If you like this type of photography, you’ve gotta check out Andrews “Space and Sky” gallery on his site. (Prints are available for purchase.)

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I’m not sure how many people get to see the laser in action but if Andrew ever does another photoshoot for W.M. Keck, I think I might volunteer to help out just to see that laser in action.


This photo is from a lunar eclipse back in April. The eclipse makes the moon glow red and it’s called a “blood moon.” In the background you can see the lava flow.

Photo of Andrew Richard Hara at his office.

Good to meet you Andrew. See you next time I’m in Hilo.

Prints of Andrew’s work are available to purchase at:

Find more from Andrew Richard Hara, at:

Editor’s Note: I do posts like these to share the creativity I’ve seen in Hawaii with my readers. Photographers don’t pay me to be featured. I just find it inspiring to meet talented people and I like sharing their work. You can see more Hawaii photographer’s featured in Inspiration section. 

This story was last modified on November 2, 2014. (Originally published in November 2014.)

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