Dawn at the greatest show on earth with Bruce Omori and Tom Kuali'i of Extreme Exposure Gallery and Photo Tours
I was recently forwarded an online conversation regarding the tours that Bruce and Tom offer; in particular that they are "overpriced". I so strongly disagree that I felt compelled to offer a counter argument and defense of their business. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinions about how much is an appropriate amount of money to charge for a photo tour. There are certainly no shortage of photography workshops that one can attend in all parts of the world, and they vary wildly in price. Here are several reasons why I feel that Extreme Exposure's pricing model is appropriate for what you receive on their tours. 1) You are getting access to what was hands down the experience of a lifetime. I've been alive a lot longer than I would admit to most people, and I have not experienced anything CLOSE to being as amazing as riding on the edge of an active volcano. You are literally watching the newest land on earth being formed. Because reaching the flow requires a crossing of private land, you need a guide to reach it. There are other options. You can sneak out there with a guide who doesn't have permission to access the area. But if you thought the tour was pricey, check the fine if you get caught! Now THAT'S pricey!!! Or you can go with a general guide who takes tourists out to visit the flow. But if you ask around, you will discover that this will leave you seriously frustrated as a photographer. Access will be limited, and you will be limited to the pace of the group you are with... some of whom will probably be wearing flip-flops. 2) When you pay for a more standard photo tour in, let's say, the Pacific Northwest, you are paying for the photographer to show you some locations, give you some tips, and hopefully help you get some good shots. When you are paying Bruce and Tom, you are literally paying them to risk their lives to get you a good shot. Anyone who tells you that it isn't hazardous being out on the edge of the flow simply doesn't understand the dangers. Nothing is more important to these guys than your safety, and they work very very hard to make sure that you are able to get extreme shots of the flow without, well, dying. While you are merrily shooting away, they are watching everything that is going on, constantly making sure that you are not getting trapped in a position you can't get out of. 3) While photo tours are the part of the business that I'm talking about here, that is only a small part of Extreme Exposure. Bruce and Tom have a gallery in Hilo that needs to be run, and other photo business that needs to be handled. There is a cost to them associated with taking clients out shooting, and it has to be worth their while. 4) Last, but not least, is the personal cost benefit analysis. I have long adhered to the rule that one shouldn't talk about their photography business. I am going to break that rule one time and simply say that I have had more success with the lava shots that Bruce and Tom were able to get me than with the rest of my portfolio combined. I have easily made back all the money that I spent on the photo tour and then some. In other words, it was the best investment I've ever made in my photography business. Enough said.